Recently I connected with a young woman (anyone south of 69 is young to me) who is a sales consultant, speaker, and coach. She seems dynamic an individual as anyone I’ve ever come across, which is why I wanted to get to know her.
In one of her emails she said, “I am busy, but working on a plan to get a shared resource, and very hopeful that will be fruitful. I am in full-on fun, love my work, but physically tapped and really disliking being behind on messages and other admin tasks. I will be working on streamlining processes and figuring out what to do less of/more of, so I’m excited for that shift.”
The First List
I immediately spotted an opportunity. What the issue comes down to is prioritizing the tasks in front of you. Here is the action I suggested she take:
Make a list of the next day’s tasks and prioritize them in numerical order.
Now I know that sounds deceptively simple, but the beauty is in the execution and the routine of it. The most vital things to accomplish are far more likely to get done, and the items at the bottom of the priority list bump to the next day’s list. You’ll be able to see actual priorities in short order as tasks either get accomplished or bumped.
When you don’t assign a priority to any task, you’ll end up multitasking. Multitaskers think they’re working well, but study after study proves them wrong. If you don’t focus and pinpoint your important tasks your attention will be divided. You’ll be … attempting to do A while your mind wanders off to B and C … putting pressure on yourself … berating yourself for not being the completely-capable person you demand of yourself … or even worse, getting so overwhelmed that you throw your hands up in the air and say the hell with it and go watch television. If you have this list, however, your mind will be at peace as you check off the items that are truly important and come to see the others as less urgent.
The Second List
It was a simple idea, just a list. It started me thinking about my own business priorities.
This is the exercise: Make a list of every business activity you engage in. Prioritize, then choose the five points (if need be, you may increase the number, but be careful you don’t overdo it) that are the most important to you and circle them in red. These are the things you need to spend the majority of your time on—they are your priorities.
I made a list of my top five candidates:
- Writing and marketing my book(s)
- Writing for my blog and writing guest blogs
- Learning new skills, especially technical skills
- Speaking engagements
Some things are simple and clear. If you’re not focused on your top priorities, chaos will reign. You’ll be approaching every day of your business life in a scattershot manner—a little of this, a little of that, trying to cover it all—instead of taking careful aim and pulling the trigger on what counts, what really matters.
If you’ll do this exercise and follow through every day of your working life, your level of efficiency will soar into the stratosphere. You’ll become that ordinary man or woman who accomplishes extraordinary things.