Prioritize your Business
Adversaries of prioritizing in business
We are all looking for ways to be more productive. Our lives are busy and getting busier, so we need to find ways to buckle down and get work done. But often the issue isn’t that we aren’t getting things done, but instead that we aren’t focusing on the right things. Prioritizing tasks is vital to the success of any business. We need to watch out for things that get us off track and focusing on the little things that aren’t important.
Even though it’s now been proven by neuroscience that multitasking isn’t a great way to get ‘er done, many people are still engaged in trying to get several things done at once. What really ends up happening though is either nothing gets finished or tasks don’t get finished right. Retraining yourself to focus on one task at a time will help your brain prioritize what’s really important.
Whether it’s a person popping into your office to ask a “quick question,” the local news on the radio or a notification that someone just emailed you, distractions keep our brain fragmented so that a lot of little unimportant tasks get completed, but nothing of great significance does. Finding simple solutions to limit distractions will make it easier for you to get your work prioritized and off your plate faster.
Having a huge to-do list is enough to drive anyone crazy. Overwhelm can clutter your mind so that you aren’t even sure what’s urgent and what’s not. Where should you start first? Most people find it beneficial to write down everything they need to do so that it’s not swarming around in their head. Making a simple to-do list and then prioritizing the items will make overwhelm disappear.
How can you plan a strategy for attacking the important things on your task list when you have no idea what tasks need to be handled? Being disorganized makes it almost impossible to be effective in getting your work done. The good news is there are easy ways to get organized, including selecting one notebook or app where you keep your task list. That way, you don’t waste time looking for the latest list and you keep track of all of the small, but important, tasks that you need to complete.
Although there are challenges to prioritizing, a few simple tools and new habits can make it possible for anyone to do.
The ABCDE Method of Prioritizing Tasks
Brian Tracy, best-selling author of Eat That Frog, recommends prioritizing your work based on what he calls the ABCDE Method. Using this technique is easy and can change the way in which you work and live.
First, you need to determine your short-term goals and objectives. Without knowing where you want to go, it’s difficult to get there, right? Based on your goals and objectives, write a list of tasks that need to be completed. Don’t censor yourself—write everything down that comes to mind.
With your list in front of you, on a piece of paper along the left margin, one letter per line, write “A-B-C-D-E.” Now it’s time to categorize your responsibilities to help figure out which ones are the most important, and therefore, should be completed first.
“A” stands for the most important and urgent task on the list. This is an activity that will involve repercussions if it’s not completed.
“B” stands for the next most important thing on the list. This task isn’t as important and if it’s not completed immediately, the repercussions wouldn’t be as severe as the “A” task.
“C” stands for the task you would like to complete today, but isn’t necessary. This item might be something you’d like to get off your plate, but it has no consequences if it isn’t finished right away.
“D” stands for delegate, and you should try to put as many duties as possible in this category. Ask yourself what items on your to do list could be handled by someone else? This will free up a great deal of time so that you can focus on the “A” and “B” tasks.
“E” stands for eliminate. This category should also be filled up with as many tasks as possible. These might be little details that are tripping you up and making it difficult to finish the more important tasks on your list each day.
Now, just because you “eliminate” something doesn’t mean you will never do it, but it does put agenda items in perspective. Some of these you can eliminate totally, while others should be done, but don’t need to be done now.
Now you have a clear priority list for the day. It’s recommended that you do this at the end of each day for the next so that when you get to the office in the morning, you can start getting your “A” task done immediately.
The 80/20 Principle
You may have heard of the 80/20 principle before, but not put it to good use. A lot of popular productivity gurus talk about this and have proven that it works by using it themselves.
Basically, the principle states that you get roughly 80% of your results from 20% of your effort. By implementing this principle in your business life, you can see more success in less time, all while being happier! Sign me up, right? Here’s how it works:
Many entrepreneurs get caught up in all the little details that keep them from making huge leaps in their profits. For example, administrative work, meetings, dealing with difficult clients can easily take up 80% of your day, every day. By continuing in this pattern, you will only reach 20% of your potential. But if you switch things around and focus your energy on things that you only spend 20% of your time on, but that give you 80% of your results, image how much faster and easier your business will grow, not to mention how much happier you will be!
One of the ways this principle can work to make you happier is obviously by making running your business less stressful. Along with that, money is one of our biggest stressors, so when your ROI is higher, your stress is lower. And finally, it frees up the time that is presently being “wasted,” allowing you to do more of the things you love to do—that make you happy!
How to Get Started Using the 80/20 Principle
To get the ball rolling, start with these easy steps:
- Take stock of how you spend your time. Keep a notebook with you for the next 48-72 hours and write down every activity you participate in and how long it takes you. After that, look at the list and be amazed at the ways you can cut out a lot of unnecessary and unfulfilling tasks!
- Make note of what things you can a) eliminate from your work day (like wasting time checking Facebook notifications), b) delegate to others c) cut back on so you spend less time doing them (checking email 2 times a day instead of fifteen).
- Pay attention to those things that bring you and your company the biggest ROI’s too. Make a plan for scheduling more of those tasks into your day, every day of the week.