As a small business owner, your to-do list can be a productivity tool that lets you accomplish tasks deliberately each day rather than bouncing from one mini crisis to the next. While apps can be seductive, don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten list.
Your to-do list is only as good as the time you spend considering it. Take a moment each day, either at the start of the work day or the night before, to set your priorities. Be strategic about what you hope to accomplish on a day-to-day basis, and plan to cut things off your list each day. Your to-do list is a tool to put you in control of your time, so don’t give up that control by trying to squeeze everything onto your list.
Empower your to-do list by transferring items straight to your calendar. When you pair your calendar with your to-do list, you’re forced to make specific choices about where and when you’ll accomplish each item. You can see whether you’re trying to cram more items into the day than a typical day can realistically hold. Slotting to-do items into an hour-by-hour calendar first thing in the morning can greatly increase your chances of accomplishing something important during the day.
To truly master your to-do list and spend each day productively, be aware of the things on your “not-to-do” list. These are the items that eat up your day so you don’t accomplish much at all. Keep this not-to-do list in mind when making your daily task list:
- Don’t take on tasks your assistant should be doing.
- Don’t be a perfectionist, wasting time redoing tasks that are already done or taking over others’ work.
- Don’t spend time micromanaging other employees’ work.
- Don’t hover over your email, but set aside a dedicated slot to deal with it each day.
Your handwritten to-do list puts you back in control of your time. Enjoy the little thrill that comes when you cross an item off the list as you empower yourself to focus on what’s important.