Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Five Tips for Managing Your To-Do List

Is your to-do list long enough to wallpaper your office?

If you're like most entrepreneurs, you have a lengthy to-do list that never seems doable—no matter how many hours you work. But there's a reason you're not ticking off items, or maximizing results when you do. You've likely organized your task list by deadlines, and you're cranking away on the most pressing items first. A better, smarter approach is to prioritize your list by what matters most.

As such, there are only two types of tasks that should really matter to entrepreneurs. The first can broadly be described as "whatever makes money in the near future," such as writing proposals, returning prospect calls, and calling your credit card company to negotiate a better interest rate. The second is "whatever will make customers happy."

People feel compelled to finish tasks just because they are on the to-do list, especially if a deadline looms. But what good is crossing off an item on your to-do list if it doesn't make you money or thrill your customers?

A consistent flow of cash is the lifeblood of your business. If you can make money in the next 30 days by knocking off an item on your list, then make that item a priority. Same goes for any task that will win you ecstatic customers, who might reward you with repeat business or rave about you to potential customers. Everything else? Not so much.

Here's how to turn your to-do list into a productive, money-making machine:

1. Maintain a paper task list. As much as you love your fancy productivity software, keeping your to-do list on a computer can cause you to go off on a tangent or get caught up in color-coding or grouping tasks.