Staying organized and managing priorities are key factors in making your business as efficient and profitable as possible. It’s easy to get distracted by minor, less important tasks and lose focus on getting the things done that really count. Here are some tips to help you in setting priorities and sticking to them to make sure your time at work is spent wisely.
Set Overall Business Priorities First
Put the job of establishing the overall priorities for moving your business forward ahead of making out daily to-do lists. Take the time to stop and think about the things you can do to generate the maximum return in growing your business.
As a small business owner, especially in the startup phase of your business, your potential list of tasks is virtually endless. But at any point in the development of your business, there are always going to be areas that need to be the main focus. For example, during different phases of the development of your business, your number one priority can shift from raising startup capital to advertising your business to improving customer service.
While there are always day-to-day tasks you have to attend to, make sure that you and your team are putting most of the time and effort toward working on the current major priorities that can significantly advance your business. Regularly review the state of your business to re-evaluate major priorities for growth.
Use To-Do Lists Properly
Writing out daily to-do lists is a proven tool for helping you stay focused and accomplish things in each workday. There are ways to increase the effectiveness of using this tool. Many entrepreneurs advise putting the toughest jobs at the top of the list so you can jump on them at the start of the day when you’re freshest, rather than facing them near the end of the day when you’re tired. It can also be helpful to write out the next day’s to-do list at the end of every day. That way you’re ready to get right to work on getting things done as soon as you’re in your office.
Using separate “master” lists and “today” lists also increases your efficiency. Your master list is a properly prioritized list of all the things you need to work on in relation to growing your business, while your today list is your list of immediately urgent or important things that you can actually address today. Following this practice helps you avoid getting distracted with worrying about things that need to get done “someday” and keeps you focused on accomplishing everything you can right now, today.
Keep Tasks Manageable
You can become overwhelmed by looking at a large task such as “create an advertising campaign.” Make things easier by breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps, such as “determine advertising campaign budget,” “decide on a theme for the advertising campaign,” and “choose the most appropriate media to use.”
Another part of keeping your workday manageable and properly prioritizing your efforts is learning to delegate. Your job as a small business owner is handling the major management and direction of your business. Delegate tasks that fall outside of that focus area to one of your team members. For example, it may be a priority to find a good location for opening a new store, but you can have someone else scout out and compile a list of possible locations before you step in to make the final decision.
Continually prioritizing the things you need to do to most effectively advances your small business and increases your profitability as fast as possible.