What's on your Not-to-do list?

Small business owners are especially prone to getting overwhelmed by their to-do lists. With so many important tasks to be done, how are are you choosing to spend your time?

Three steps you can take to increase your effectiveness are to assess, eliminate, and add.


First, baseline how you are allocating your time now.

Write down what you are doing and decide what matters most

  • D - un-leveraged time. Examples are sorting mail, paying bills, low-level email, scanning/filing, setting up meetings, shipping, cleaning, fixing computer glitches.
  • C - leveraged time. Examples are delegating to assistant, holding a group meeting, updating to-do list, billable time or delivery to clients.
  • B - sweet spot. Examples are meeting with key clients to solidify relationship, building relationships with other professionals who can refer business, coaching managers to be better leaders, sharing company successes/challenges in regular letter to employees, reviewing company quarterly progress, instituting systemic solution to recurring problem.
  • A - magic time. Examples are giving a sales presentation to an audience of several hundred prospective clients, meeting with joint venture partner to secure high value win-win partnership, making strategic decisions to set business direction, creating sales system for company core products & services, creating operational or hiring processes.

Second, eliminate as many "D" items as possible.

When you know where you are awesome, you can leverage your strengths to have the biggest impact.

Create a "stop doing" list. Eliminate "D" activities by deleting, delegating, deferring, or designing them out. 

Finally, purposefully add more A and B level activities.

This is where you need to do the hard stuff.

One method is to prioritize your task list. Identify one to three A or B activities each day and put them at the top of your to-do list. Don't move on to other tasks until you complete them.

Another method is to schedule time on your calendar. Some leaders designate specific hours of high-productive time each day, or one - two days a week to focus only on highest value activities. 

You are making a difference in the world. Increase your impact by assessing how you are spending your time, eliminating lower value tasks, and adding in high value activities to multiply your impact.

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.
— Steve Jobs
Diana Hutchinson is Trebuchet Group's Success Enabler

Diana Hutchinson is Trebuchet Group's Success Enabler

Thanks to David Finkel, author of Build a Business, Not a Job! for the major concepts behind this blog.