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Are you tired of those never-ending tasks on your to-do list? You know, the ones that seem to multiply even when you’re crossing off items left and right? Well, my friend, you might just be caught in the growth task vs. maintenance task trap. Let me explain… Every task on your to-do list falls into one of two categories—maintenance or growth. And here’s the thing: both types are crucial for reaching your goals. So today, I’m going to equip you with a simple strategy to keep up with your maintenance tasks while also making time for the exciting growth projects that will propel you and your business forward. Say goodbye to the overwhelm and hello to a harmonious to-do list that keeps you on track to achieve your goals.
WHAT IS A MAINTENANCE TASK?
Imagine you have a blank piece of paper, and you draw a line straight down the middle. On the left side you write, “growth” and on the right side, you write “maintenance.” Every task you do for your business, home, or family, will fall into one of these two categories.
Growth tasks help you get to the next level. They’re usually one-time projects, tasks, or opportunities.
Maintenance tasks, on the other hand, help you maintain your current level. They’re by nature, recurring or ongoing projects and tasks. Even if you cross them off your list, they’re going to pop back up again.
Let’s do a little exercise to bring this concept to life. Go find a blank piece of paper, grab a pen, and draw a line straight down the middle. On the left side, jot down the word “growth,” and on the right side, write down “maintenance.” Every single task you encounter, whether it’s for your business, home, or family, can be neatly categorized into one of these two sections.
The left side, labeled “growth,” is all about those exciting projects that propel you to the next level. We’re talking about those one-time projects, tasks, or opportunities that have the potential to transform your life or business. They’re like stepping stones to your dreams.
Now, let’s shift our focus to the right side—our dear friend, “maintenance.” These tasks are quite different. They’re the ones that help you maintain your current level of success and prevent you from moving backwards. They have a recurring nature, constantly popping up on your to-do list no matter how hard you try to cross them off. They’re the sneaky ones that require ongoing attention and effort.
Whether we like it or not, maintenance tasks are an integral part of our lives. Even if we manage to cross them off momentarily, they always find a way to resurface. Let’s look at some examples together, so you can see exactly what I mean.
EXAMPLES OF GROWTH TASKS AND MAINTENANCE TASKS
In the chart below, you’ll find some examples of how you can differentiate between growth tasks and maintenance tasks in your business and personal life.
The Growth Task vs. Maintenance Task Battle
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of despising maintenance work. It can feel futile, menial, or even beneath you. But whether you like it or not, your business, your home, your relationships, and your goals will require a lot of maintenance. It’s inescapable!
Growth tasks often get the hype because they can often look impressing and flashy. Launching a podcast, hiring a business coach, having a baby, or renovating your kitchen are all big moments you’ll want to talk about (and certainly celebrate)! But equally important are the smaller moments and less impressive work of recording podcast episodes, showing up to coaching calls, waking up in the middle of the night, and cooking dinner for your family.
Maintenance tasks help you pursue your goals and create a meaningful and purposeful life too. So why not romanticize your maintenance routine a little bit? Why not have fun with it instead of resenting it?
- Categorizing your transactions every week helps you make better financial decisions throughout the month.
- Intentionally scheduling coffee dates to maintain friendships (personal or professional) helps you feel known, supported, and needed.
- Cleaning out your inbox regularly helps you meet deadlines and provide a great client experience.
- Meal planning healthy recipes weekly helps you show up energized and focussed throughout the week.
- Making a meal that gathers your family around your table helps you build a lifelong relationship with them.
In order to maximize your productivity and achieve your goals as a business owner, you’ll need to figure out how to make time for growth tasks AND maintenance tasks.
HOW TO DEAL WITH BUSY WORK AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER
I have a 6-step framework that I use to help my clients declutter their to-do lists. Each step in the process helps you focus more and more in your zone of genius and on the tasks that only you can and should be doing in your business.
- Scrub (Eliminate your nonessential tasks.)
- Streamline (Systemize or batch your tasks.)
- Automate (Automate your tasks.)
- Assign (Delegate or outsource your tasks.)
- Stall (Postpone projects and tasks until the right time.)
- Succeed (You achieve your goals faster when you’re focussed on the right tasks.)
In this post, we’re focusing on step number two. More specifically, I’m sharing strategies for how you can batch your maintenance tasks to that you can complete them more quickly and efficiently.
HOW I BATCH MY MAINTENANCE TASKS AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER
When it comes to batching the busy work and freeing up more time for your goal tasks, I like using time horizons. What gets scheduled gets done! Here is how I batch my maintenance tasks on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
DAILY MAINTENANCE TASKS
I batch many of my daily maintenance tasks during my lunch block. After I eat lunch, around 12:30 each day, I respond to emails, texts, and Voxer messages from clients, post to my Instagram stories, switch laundry loads, and finish my Duo Lingo lesson. How do I remember to do a million maintenance tasks a day? I set up intentional routines in my ideal week schedule that I reference each and every day. You can learn more about how to set up your ideal week in this episode.
WEEKLY MAINTENANCE TASKS
Each week, as I complete my weekly review, I also batch all of my weekly maintenance tasks like getting to inbox zero, cleaning out my downloads folder, putting random notes into my task management system in ClickUp, paying myself, or creating a meal plan for the week. Whenever I put administrative maintenance tasks into my ClickUp system, I schedule them for Fridays so I can batch them during my weekly review. You can grab my exact system for managing my tasks here.
MONTHLY MAINTENANCE TASKS
Once a month, when I’m doing my CEO day, I’ll also batch my monthly, quarterly, and annual maintenance tasks like backing up my laptop, dusting my plants, checking my PO box, or updating my website.
TASK BATCHING HACK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS
At this point, you may have noticed that I combine all of my business and personal maintenance tasks when I’m batching. I’ve found that it’s easier to get through these tasks quickly when I’m not trying to segment my to-do list into business vs personal tasks. I can make the best use of my time and energy when I batch low-focus tasks (whether business or personal) during the times of the day or week when I’m at my lowest energy levels.
BENEFITS OF BATCHING YOUR MAINTENANCE TASKS
If you start batching your maintenance tasks, there are a few things you will immediately see happen! First, you’ll become much more aware of how much time you’re actually spending on maintenance tasks. Those small tasks add up quickly. If you need to free up more time to work on growth tasks, then you can make an informed decision about how to reduce your maintenance workflow.
Second, you’ll notice that tasks won’t be hanging over your head anymore. You might think, “I should backup my laptop” or your computer might even remind you, “Hey, it’s been a long time since you backed up your files” and it could easily stress you out every single day. But when you have a system for maintaining your business and every task has a place, you can rest easy at night or the next time that notification pops up.
Third, you will save time when you’re batching your tasks, which means overall, you’ll spend less time on maintenance work. That extra time in your calendar could mean more time to work on your growth projects or more time to spend with your family. It’s your choice!
If you’re looking for a complete system for organizing your tasks and put everything you learned today into practice, check out my Organize your Business course! This course includes all the resources you need to track, manage, and BATCH your business tasks and know exactly what to work on each day. You can steal the exact system I use to manage my business by going to www.jadeboyd.co/organizeyourbusiness.
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