Priorities!

It can feel overwhelming to run a business in your home. There are just so many dang things to track, not only in the business but also life in general. As a list-maker from way back, as I thought of a task I wanted to remember, I’d jot it down…. somewhere.

Soon, I found that I had a list in the kitchen, another on my desk and another in the living room; and countless yellow sticky notes on various furniture items and mirrors. I’d write it down but not always in the same place, so there was never any guarantee that I would ever see it again. Not a real effective way to operate, right?

So now, weekly, I take a pad of paper and draw a vertical line down the center; at the top of one side is “personal” and the other is “work.” Then I list everything I can think of that needs to be done in either arena. This is the master list and it lives on my desk. As new tasks arise, they get added to the list.

Routine activities, like shopping for groceries, don’t really make the list because I don’t need reminders to get more coffee. I need reminders to call my insurance agent or accountant, or to respond to an RSVP on time, or to follow through on something I promised.

Then daily, I pull 2 tasks from each side to focus on for that day. Some days are better than others, of course. You’d think that 4 items could be knocked off pretty quickly, but if they involve research or phone calls or errands, I tend to put that till last, and that can mean adding it to the short list for the next day.

I do this in the morning before I start my day, but it also is an effective tool to end your day. When I was a consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics (one of the best sales training programs in the world, IMHO), we were given a cute pink pad labeled “Six Most Important Things.” We were advised to review the list after work was done and create a new short list for tomorrow. Then, hit the ground running in the morning.

What surprised me is that by reviewing the master list frequently, I find that I am getting things done from the master list that never make it to the daily short list. And items that are carried over week to week may take longer, but because they don’t leave my sight, they are completed as well.

This is what works for me, and I know that others have effective ways to prioritize tasks in their life. Please add your comments and share what works for you!


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