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One of the biggest things entrepreneurs struggle with is seeing a massive to do list and not knowing what to work on first.
You’re constantly being pulled in multiple directions all day, every day. You’ve got clients communicating with you on multiple platforms, notifications about the latest comment on your Instagram post, calls from your mom (despite the fact you’ve told her that owning your own business doesn’t mean you’re available to chat 24/7), and so much more. On top of all that, you have a never-ending to-do list that gets longer with every new notification.
The daily struggle then is determining what tasks you actually have to get done today.
The key to a productive day happens in just 2 easy steps. By doing these two steps you’re going to learn how to prioritize your tasks and give yourself permission to focus only on those tasks.
01. Write down all of your tasks for today
On a piece of paper (or planner if you use one), write down ALL of the tasks that need to get done TODAY. This can include tasks that literally have a deadline of today, but also things you would like to get done today.
Go crazy and add everything that you can think of. This will act like a brain dump to get it out of your head and onto paper.
Stay calm, this list is just to help you see everything that you think you need to get done today and everything you actually need to get done today.
To find these tasks go through your email, Asana and any other place you communicate with clients or store your tasks.
02. Pick the Big 3
Look through your list and choose 3 of the most important tasks from that list. You’re going to look for 2 things when choosing your Big 3 for the day.
- Tasks that have an immediate deadline, such as presenting a proof to your client.
Tasks that are going to move your business forward and help you hit your goals, like writing a blog post or updating your SEO so that you can start getting more traffic to your website.
Now that you’ve reviewed your big list, highlight the top 3 tasks that you want to get done today and write them next to your list. These are the 3 things you’re going to focus on RIGHT NOW, they are the 3 things that MUST get done today.
Look at your Big 3 and start with ONE of them. I recommend starting with the task that has the most immediate deadline. Once you’ve completed that task, pick the next most important one from the remaining 2 tasks on your Big 3 list.
The key to the Big 3 is prioritizing 3 things on your to-do list. If you don’t prioritize your list then you’re most likely not going to get done the tasks that actually need to get done that day.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your prioritiesStephen Covey
Essentially what you’re doing is choosing 3 tasks out of the dozens on your list that will move your business forward, help you hit your goals, or meet your required deadlines.
After you complete your Big 3, any other task you complete is just a bonus, and one less thing to do tomorrow.
What do I do after I complete the Big 3?
Once you’ve completed your Big 3 (yay you!) it’s time to revisit your main task list.
Now that you’ve gotten your Big 3 done, you’re going to focus on quick wins.
Start by looking at any time-sensitive tasks that you have on your list. Choose a task that will take you the least amount of time to complete and is the most time-sensitive. Continue doing this until you’re done working for the day.
At the end of the day, you’re going to feel accomplished knowing that you got 3 big rocks off your plate AND you got other time-sensitive tasks done.
If you don’t have any time-sensitive tasks on your list, then choose the tasks that will take the least amount of time to complete.
By doing this you’re going to feel ridiculously productive because you’re going to be checking a lot of tasks off your plate—giving you more endorphins aka feeling more productive.
When writing down tasks, avoid writing down items like “complete website,” because that’s a project, not a task. A task is a single item that may or may not be part of a larger project. Instead, write down a task like “complete home page design” or “write about page copy.”
It may seem counterintuitive to see more things on your list, but consider this, the reason you’re overwhelmed with your task list is because you’re actually writing projects down and not tasks.
By breaking down your list into manageable bites, you’re going to be able to fly through those tasks and see more things checked off, making you feel like you accomplished so much more than seeing that project get added to tomorrow’s list. Again.
Wrapping it up
At the start of every day, I write down my task list and choose my Big 3 for the day. Doing this simple exercise has made a world of difference in my role as an OBM.
While it doesn’t matter what you use to do this exercise, you can use a piece of paper + pen, I use the Full Focus Planner because of the layout it provides. Each of the daily pages has space for you to list your Big 3, your other tasks, an hourly breakdown of the day, and an entire page just for notes.
It also has a small key that shows you how to mark your tasks off. At the end of each day I go through my list and review what I did or didn’t get done. I use the key to either mark tasks as completed, waiting for, deferred or deleted. That way in the morning when I go to write my task list for that day I can see what from yesterday needs to get moved over to today.
Curious about how to use both a digital planning system and a paper planner? Check out this post on utilizing both types together.
If you want to try the Full Focus Planner out and get $10 off, click here to grab it!