6 Strategies to Get to the End of Your "To do" List

To Do listAs I talk with small business owners there is a theme.   Their “to do” lists have taken over their work and their lives.
Why is it that the small business owner’s to do list never seems to end?
Personally, I struggle with this. I can create things to do, faster than I can complete them. And, I have a habit of just doing things, rather than thinking about whether or not what I am doing is actually important.
[Tweet “Action without strategy leaves you overworked and stressed”]
Many of us started our businesses to have freedom and flexibility and instead we find ourselves ruled by the never ending to do list and everything seems important.  As a small business owner, you are wired for action.  This is a great strength.  But, action without strategy, leaves you overworked and stressed.

Here are 6 Strategies to Get to the End of Your “to do list”

  • Eliminate distractions – Often times we can’t complete our to do list, because we are just getting interrupted too much. When you have a specific project to work on, make sure you have a work-space that allows you to focus. Shut the office door and turn off the phone.
  • Set a time limit for each task –  Many times tasks take longer than necessary, because we do not put limits on them. When you schedule your time in blocks, allocate a certain amount of time for each item you are trying to accomplish. When you get to the end of that time block, move onto the next one.  If you did not complete your task. Evaluate your schedule and determine whether you push something else back or come back to the task at a later time.
  • Do the important things first –  It is very easy to spend lots of time checking emails and responding to questions and demands of others. These things are often not your priorities. Determine what your priorities are, and put those in the schedule first.
  • Learn to say no –  Many times, our to do list is overrun with the priorities of others. Make sure that your tasks line up with the priorities that are important to you and your business. If not say no!
  • Eliminate some of your tasks –  When you write your to do list, eliminate a predetermined portion of them before you ever start to work. Start with eliminating 10% and then slowly increase your percentage until you find what works for you. This group is probably unimportant and doesn’t need to be completed anyway.
  • Empower your team- Many times we get interrupted because our team is not empowered to make decisions and get things done. If you have delegated the responsibility to someone else, make sure you have also delegated the decision-making authority for them to complete the task. Then follow up to hold them accountable. If they are coming to you to get decisions you are better off to have done it yourself.

There is good news.  You do not have to end every day stressed by the things that are still on your to-do list.  If you change your actions, you can change your results.

What strategies do you use to increase your productivity and get to the bottom of your to do list?

Share your thoughts in the comments