Business Articles - On the Job

Using Lists to Manage Your Business and Your Time

Most business owners know the steps they need to take to achieve their business objectives, but sometimes it's hard to prioritize. The starting point for getting organized is to create a to-do list. This simple and often-overlooked tool is one that will help systematize the sometimes-daunting list of tasks at hand.

Here are some easy steps you can take:

Stay Current
It is important to keep your list up-to-date. Include items that need to be accomplished this week first, then next week and perhaps keep space on the bottom for reminders about items that need to be completed a month and a few months in advance.

Don't Be Afraid to Delegate
Your list should include the topic, task requirements, the date of the event/job completion and the status. Determine if there are any tasks on the list that can be delegated -- is there a top sales person or another trusted representative that can attend some of those meetings for you?

As you review your to-do list make sure you don't have items on the list that should really be done by an employee. If you take over their jobs, you are cutting into time that could be allotted for business matters that only you can tend to.

Use Your Time Wisely and Prioritize
There will always be those tasks that are more difficult than others. As tempting as it might be to toss those items to the bottom of the list, resist the temptation. It is best to act on your most difficult tasks first, when you are most focused.

Because each topic or task has a series of potential actions you can take, there are choices. As you look at your list at a later date and you determine one of those actions doesn't seem as plausible as it did when you created the list -- discard it. It may be useful to create a to-do list priority rating system. For example, there may be three actions that can be taken for a topic. This system helps organize your thoughts and creates a clearer picture of the amount of work that lies ahead.

A to-do list helps you take control of your business life, giving you a visual representation of the many tasks at hand. It's an easy organization system that allows you to quickly check the list and cross off items that are accomplished. In addition, it helps prevent problems and allows you to look ahead. But best of all, a to-do list will help you realize that you can create a balance between work and your personal life. Instead of staying late at the office and not being sure what project has to be done next, you will have a sense of calm control, leaving more free evenings and weekends for friends, family and personal time.

by Vicki Gerson

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