Home Entrepreneurs at Work 5 Common “To-Do List” Mistakes Small Business Owners can Avoid

5 Common “To-Do List” Mistakes Small Business Owners can Avoid

by Austin Smith

5 Common “To-Do List” Mistakes Small Business Owners can Avoid

Small business owners often have a to-do list to work no each day. Often, the list too long or too complicated that many feel it’s impossible to get done. Here are 5 most common “to-do list” mistakes you can avoid to make your work more productive:

Mistake #1 – No Action List

Do you ever try to make it through the day remembering everything you need to get done? Do you invest more mental energy in recalling what to do than in actually doing it? When it comes to getting things done, keeping everything as a list in your head rates as one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make. You devote all your time and mental energy trying to remember everything you need to get done, instead of taking action.

Also, trying to keep everything “in mind” easily leads to confusion and feelings of overwhelm because you focus on trying to remember what to do next instead of focusing on the task at hand. If you don’t operate with an action list, you create a needless struggle for yourself and those around you.

Mistake #2 – Overload/ Under-load

Most people start out trying to accomplish too much in a single day. They rest up over the weekend and wake up Monday morning ready to tackle the world. They list off the 10 things they know they can get done to start the week out right — and then crash and burn by 4:00 p.m. Monday!

On the other hand, other people greatly underestimate how much they can accomplish during the week and arrive at Friday evening with less done than they otherwise could with some basic planning and pacing. The solution: plan out 2-4 activities a day in addition to your regular duties and then adjust your pace based on size and complexity of the tasks.

Mistake #3 – No “At-a-Glance” List

I know people who operate with 6-page to-do lists and think they can get everything done. They may believe that, but their results prove otherwise. Smart people organize their to-do’s by maintaining 2 simple lists at the same time. The first list serves as the “master” list, which lists off all the actions and results necessary for a successful outcome, whether over time or for a specific project.

The second list is the “at-a-glance” list of what you need to get done today, this morning, or this afternoon. This working list contains no more than 2 to 4 immediate action items, does NOT require any fancy software, and keeps feelings of overwhelming at bay because you’re focused on things you can get done relatively quickly. All you need is a pen, paper, and maybe a calendar (and Google’s free online calendar works just fine for this).

Mistake #4 – No “Closed Door” time

How can you get anything done if you’re constantly interrupted? What kind of example do you set for others if you can’t control your own to-do list? Everyone needs some “closed-door” time to catch up on action items and refocus. Schedule an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon and put it on your calendar, then allow yourself enough time to get into a groove.  Hold this time sacred, which means no calls (unless you make them), no walk-ins, and no chitchat time. Use these two hours to handle the important items that always seem to take a back seat to the urgent fires that pop up endlessly over the course of any day.

Mistake #5 – No Marketing Time Scheduled Daily

No matter what you do, every small business needs more sales and customers through the front door. Sadly, very few consistently schedule marketing activities into their day, let alone make marketing an integral part of their to-do list. Schedule a “Marketing Power Hour” at least 3 times a week to concentrate on new marketing activities.

Ideally, we should all devote at least one hour a day to new marketing activities, finding new marketing avenues, new advertising sources, and testing new angles to attract customers. In the end, marketing activities should be the most valuable items on every small business owner’s to-do list.

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