Write A To-Do List That Gets Results

Michael Brenner

Being an entrepreneur or small business owner can be an all-consuming career path. The benefits are plentiful: You are your own boss, you can set your own schedule, and you can pursue your own goals and dreams. It is challenging and rewarding, and many people would not trade it for anything.

Of course, running your own enterprise is not without its challenges. Finding effective strategies to stay on track during the day-to-day whirlwind of tasks and responsibilities is imperative to enjoying all the benefits of entrepreneurship as well as life outside of business. This guide can help you stay on track with one of the most basic of strategies available to the busy business owner: the to-do list.

Find a system that works for you

For your to-do list strategy to work, it must be accessible and easy to use. Experiment with what works best for you; some people prefer carrying a legal pad or small notebook with them, while others go the digital route, using the notepad app on their phone, or perhaps a service like Evernote that syncs across all their digital devices. Whichever approach you go with, it must come naturally for you, be easy to access whenever an idea hits, and something that you will follow through on.

Divide your To-Do list into sections

One long to-do list can quickly spiral out of control and become overwhelming. Instead, try dividing your to-do list into sections. One section should be Must-Do-Today, another an Important List, and finally a Long-Term List. Keep your Must-Do-Today section down to only the most important tasks for that day. This will allow you to stay focused on what absolutely must get done. The Important List consists of mid-term tasks that you can focus on when you finish the things on your Must-Do-Today list. Items on this list should be things that are a few days out and they will make their way onto the Must-Do-Today list soon. The Long-Term List is exactly what it sounds like: things that need to get done but are not entirely pressing. Dividing your tasks into these categories can help you stay focused on what’s most important so that you work efficiently and effectively.

Create a Projects list

For larger projects that you are working on with others, it is important to keep track of everybody’s assigned tasks and responsibilities. Create a list that outlines each team member’s role in the project, along with their assigned responsibilities and the steps needed to fulfill those responsibilities. This helps all team members stay aware of what each person is supposed to be doing, and also helps you avoid micromanaging your team members. In this situation, it may make more sense to use a digital tool that everybody can share and access. Products such as Google Drive or Slack allow all team members access to current information so everyone knows what is going on.

Write effective and efficient meeting agendas

Getting all of your people together in one place can be a powerful way to share ideas and tackle problems. However, everyone hates going to meetings that do not amount to anything. To avoid this, set an appropriate agenda before the meeting. Create a list of things you want to discuss, and share it with your team before the meeting so everyone knows what to expect. Make this agenda outcome-oriented so everyone can leave the meeting knowing what will happen next. For example, instead of listing, “Talk about next quarter advertising budget,” which is vague and does not actually state any sort of action step, write, “Decide how to use $5,000 in advertising dollars for the next quarter.” Furthermore, meeting agendas can set time limits so that a decision must be made by a certain point in time. When used effectively, this strategy can encourage decision-making and collaboration, leaving your team members feeling like the meeting was productive and useful.

By using these strategies, you can help stay organized, on-task, and focused on growing and building your business.

For more strategies that boost workplace efficiency, see How Can I Run Simple In An Increasingly Complex World?

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.