Business can be overwhelming. With our monumental to-do lists, we can be left wondering how we’re ever going to complete everything, and that’s before adding 5 more tasks before Monday morning has even begun!
All of these demands can lead to information paralysis. But with a little strategy and prior planning, you can tackle your to-do list, and have your top priorities completed and out the door.
1. Prior planning is everything!
Without strategising and planning what to work on and when, you’ll find yourself engulfed by your constant demands, email pings, and checking your Facebook feed. It’s important to plan your week as a whole, and do so in advance. Create a snapshot of any appointments, client meetings, and personal requirements such as school pick ups and exercise. From here, you’ll block out the time you have left to work on the most important tasks — taking into consideration your normal energy peaks and troughs, and lunch and coffee breaks. Your calendar is your friend!
2. Prioritise what’s important
We can almost guarantee that more than 50% of the tasks on your to-do list don’t NEED to be completed right away. It’s important to be realistic about what can be achieved in a week, and to prioritise your tasks based on their deadlines and the impact they’ll have on your business. Work for clients or customers – anything that brings money into the business – should be at the top of your to-do list, as well as anything that’s going to give you the most bang for your buck. Anything else can be worked through in your own time, or when you have a spare 30 or 60 minutes. And when you can, set aside larger blocks of time for big-picture work. Ideally, you’ll be spending some time every week getting away from the daily tasks and demands to keep an eye on the business as a whole.
3. Time is your ally, not your enemy
We all like to think that we don’t have enough time. But this busy mentality doesn’t do us any favours. Instead of thinking of your clock as the enemy, think of it as your ally. It’s there to help you – you just have to work with it, and not against it.
Enter the pomodoro technique! This time management strategy was developed in the 1980’s, and uses a timer to break work down into intervals. It assists with flow and focus, to help you complete what’s important, while also getting the breaks you need. To use this technique, start by setting your timer for 25 minutes. This is your focus period where you will work on 1 item on your list until the time is up. Take a short 5 minute break, and start the cycle again until your task is complete. After 4 cycles, it is recommended that you take a more substantial break of 15 – 30 minutes. Instead of working on things instantaneously, such as answering that email or checking your social media, block it into a 25 minute time slot to avoid distractions.
4. Done is better than perfect
If you’re struggling to finish tasks, it’s time to take a look at your perfection tendencies. Great is better than perfect, because it allows you to let go of having to get everything “right”, and helps you to tick off your to-do list! So, the next time you are pondering if your work is good enough, remember that finishing what you started will allow you to make great progress on your growing list of tasks, before they get the better of you.