Learn How to Prioritize Your Day for Maximum Results
The entrepreneurial culture is infectious, isn’t it?!? When you walk into a room full of entrepreneurs, you can feel the excitement and feed off of the energy. It’s full speed ahead every day! We are making dreams come true one activity at a time, albeit at a highly frenetic pace. We know that hard work and determination go a long way in determining our success as business builders. So, does our day-to-day commitment, and of course the defendable differentiators (click here to read Are Your Differentiators Defendable?) cemented in place for our products and services that help us to sustain our profitable growth for both the short and long-term.
When 6:00, 7:00 or 8:00 PM rolls around and your workday at the office (or remotely) is done, how do you measure the success of the day? How do you feel when you finally get your day’s goals done and have a chance to put your feet up (okay, realistically, prop your feet up and probably start sending e-mails again from your phone) …do you feel it was busy or productive today?
Around late afternoon something happens to a lot of us, we look at our To Do list for the day and realize that not only is it not empty, but somehow it has grown. So much to do to grow a sustainable company! So, we make a mistake. We look at the list and ask ourselves, “What can I do to get all this knocked out in the next 1-2 hours,” we feel like we have accomplished more. The list is long, for most; it includes sticky notes in multiple locations and probably a few different sheets of things we need to accomplish. Lots of stuff is written down, but for many of us, not necessarily in any order of priority.
And what do we knock out from the list? What items can be done in a shorter period of time (and ideally it’s lots of them), so we get that list down to a manageable amount for tomorrow? But unfortunately, for a lot of us, we work on the wrong stuff. And when we get home and our significant other asks how our day went, we tell them…”I am worn out, I was busy all day!”
It is time to think and act differently…to outlaw the word BUSY!
To help in the transition to productive days, think must, should and could. Focus on the musts first (these are your top priorities) because they are what really make the difference and drive productivity. Busy days are made up of lots of shoulds and coulds. Productive days are made up of musts first, followed by shoulds. Today my #1 must was to write this column. So, that is what I did first thing this morning. I was not good at this type of prioritization early on in my career, because I thought all activity was good…just keep me in fast forward motion and all will end well. Nope.
Take a look at your to do list. Do it over, segmenting the list into MUST, SHOULD and COULD to-do items. Then go after the musts first.
It is perfectly okay to end the workday with lots of coulds and some shoulds still to do (in fact I encourage it!). It is not fine to leave all the musts for tomorrow, because tomorrow the same will happen, busy will take priority over productivity. Replace activity with smart activity. When we can go really fast doing the right things every day, watch out!