In my previous corporate jobs, my managers always commented that I was a good time manager and project manager. But as a small business owner, I find myself struggling and juggling as much as anyone.
Frequently, I act as an accountability coach for my entrepreneur and job-search clients, and I recommend that they use these four ways to prioritize their to-do list:
1. Cha-ching! This is the most intuitive. I call it the fast path to the cash. Logically, we think that we should do the most important thing first, but sometimes we can’t seem to make ourselves do it.
2. Gulp. This is in reference to the Mark Twain quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” It’s not a pretty image – but it does get the point across. If you have some dreaded task on your to-do list, do that first. It takes up energy and space in your head. You won’t be as productive as you could be, and it might even send you into immediate overwhelm.
3. Check. If you find that you have a bunch of little things on your to-do list, this can be the way to go. It feels great to whip through some easy tasks and check them off (or cross them off) your list. After a few checks you may start feeling like you are on fire – and then you can move on to the tasks that are more difficult or will take more time.
4. Whoo-hoo! Try this way if you don’t know where to start or if you are stuck. Which task on your list gets you a little excited? Is there a task where you would learn something? Maybe get some positive feedback? This can be a fun way to start your day.
The human mind needs to be coaxed occasionally. It’s not just you – we all need to play with our own minds (in a good way) sometimes in order to get – and stay – in action.
The common theme here is that you should pick the way that will give you some good energy and generate some enthusiasm. Those feelings will carry over into the rest of what you have to do. And you will be more productive.
Here’s seven minutes of my best advice.