If you met 18-year-old Jade, right after she graduated from high school, you would meet a girl who was delusional about her to-do list. I distinctly remember thinking that once I wrapped up a few projects to prepare for college, I would be FREE from my to do list. But as you might guess.. that’s not exactly the way things played out that summer.
As business owners, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to get as many things done as possible – with the naive hope that someday we’ll be free from our to-do lists. But this goes against everything I believe about productivity. It’s not about how many things you get done. It’s about making space for the right things. It’s about learning to live a life marked by freedom and intention while also making progress on your to-do list.
By the time you’re done listening to this episode, you’ll have several helpful strategies for tackling your to-do list with intention. I’m going to share five common mistakes entrepreneurs make when tackling their to-do lists, and my top productivity tips for small business owners.
Mistake #1: Multi-Tasking
I’ve talked about the dangers of multi-tasking on the podcast before, but it’s still the number one mistake I see entrepreneurs making on a day to day basis. Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When tackling your to-do list, allow yourself to focus on one thing at a time so you can increase your accuracy, efficiency, and sanity! Download my task batching workbook to start single tasking today.
Mistake #2: Allowing Anything and Everything onto your To-Do List
When’s the last time you questioned whether or not the items on your to-do list needed to get done at all? When’s the last time you delegated something instead of doing it yourself? My guess is that many things are only on your to do list because they’ve always been there! The first step to getting through your to do should be to filter out the tasks that shouldn’t be there at all. Figure out what drives real results in your business and eliminate the busy work that doesn’t contribute to your results.
Mistake #3: Ignoring your Constraints
As humans, we like to believe that we’re not limited in what we can do, but there’s nothing further from the truth. We all have constraints on our time, energy, and focus. Recognizing what your constraints are will help you be more realistic about what you can accomplish on any given week. You don’t have unlimited time, energy, or focus, so you can’t have an unlimited to-do list. Acknowledging your constraints can also help you get creative on how you can increase the amount of time, energy and focus you have to dedicate to your to-do list.
Mistake #4 Not Prioritizing Growth Tasks
If you took a blank piece of paper and wrote down everything on your to-do list, you could draw a line down the middle and place every task in one of two categories: 1) growth tasks and 2) maintenance tasks. A lot of entrepreneurs get caught up in the day to day tasks that keep the doors open, but don’t allow themselves enough time to work on the things that will get them to the next level in business. Maintenance tasks simply keep the engine running, but growth tasks will get you to the next level. Usually growth tasks like hiring an employee, investing in your personal development, improving your processes, or finishing a business development project aren’t urgent. And when things aren’t urgent, it’s easier to procrastinate. If you don’t make time and space for growth tasks, it’s easy to get stuck in the day to day.
When you plan out your to-do list each week, figure out how to make time for growth tasks. Even an hour or two each week could make a huge difference over time.
Mistake #5: Not Separating the Strategy from the Execution
There’s a time for creating your to do list and strategizing which projects take priority and how to invest your time. And there’s time to get things done. When you don’t make a plan for how to tackle your to-do list, you’ll be relying on yourself moment by moment to make the right decisions on how to invest your time, energy, and focus. The problem is that, in the moment, your brain will find any distraction to get you out of doing your most important work.
You need to separate the strategy from the execution in order to make clear decisions. When it comes time to execute, you’ll be crystal clear on what’s important and what’s not.
Need Help to Be More Productive as a Business Owner?
If you want to make real progress on your business goals but are feeling stuck in the day to day, apply for the Business Edit Coaching Program today. My coaching program is a good fit for service providers who want to scale but are feeling overwhelmed by the day to day operations in their business. I can help you create a clear business strategy and develop the systems that will allow you to execute without the overwhelm. Apply today to see if this is a good fit for you and your business!
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Episode 008: Task Batching vs. Multi-Tasking
- Episode 004: The One Routine that Keeps Me Productive
- Apply for my 1:1 Coaching Program
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