When there is a lot to do, it can be really hard to figure out what to focus your attention on, and what to spend time, money, and energy on… you name it. Here are some quick questions to help you sort through your to-do list.

Ask yourself the following, in this order:

  1. Where is the money? When you are running a business, oftentimes money is the fuel that can keep you going. SO, it is important that you do the money-related stuff first. That means working with clients, following up with prospects, and making sure that your billing is up-to-date. These activities should always be first when you’re looking at moving your business forward.
  2. What needs to be done now? When you have a strict deadline, you know you need to do stuff right away. When you have cascading tasks (one item on your to-do list relies on another OR someone you are working with is waiting for you to do something), these tasks should be done promptly and in order as well. Figure out what needs to be done NOW and what can wait. Be strategic with your time, so you don’t miss deadlines, waste time waiting, OR unnecessarily double your effort.
  3. What has the highest impact? After you’ve finished what gets you money and what needs to be done NOW, you need to look for what is going to have the biggest impact on your business. This could be streamlining a process, investing in a bookkeeper, or signing up for an Electronic Health Record. These things are often not urgent, but will be worth the effort and expense. Do these as soon as you can. You may need to carve out time or set up some deadlines for yourself, so these items can move up the list.
  4. What can I complete? Checking items off your to-do list helps to increase feelings of competence AND restores your resilience. When you’re able to finish a task with the time you have, do it. You will reap the emotional rewards of a closed loop.

Too often, when we don’t make conscious decisions about how we get our business tasks done, we can find our to-do list growing instead of shrinking. Even worse, we can feel incompetent or create an unsustainable business because we are neglecting our financial responsibilities.

How do you sort through your to-do list? What ideas did we miss?

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