Setting Priorities to Increase Productivity

multi-pathThe first step for managing the stresses of being a business owner is really simple and very basic. Set your priorities! If you don’t have a set of priorities by which to guide your business, your day, and your week, you are at the mercy of circumstance. Happenstance is for people who play the lottery; not for business owners.

Does this describe you on a daily basis? You sit down at your desk to begin work on your to-do list, and the emails and/or phone calls start coming in. Instead of having a way to rate the importance and urgency of each request and item on your list, you just respond to whatever is front and center – which is usually whatever email or phone call has come in most recently. Then the end of the day comes, and you still have as many items on your to-do list as you started with. The stress starts to mount as your business goals recede farther and farther into the distance.

Sometimes business owners think that everything has to be done all at once in order to be successful. Have you fallen into that trap? Is that really working for you?

So what’s the solution? Setting priorities! When you have a plan that clearly outlines your priorities, you have a map for the future progress of your business. Would you start out on a cross country road trip without a map and plan? Of course not, so why try to grow your business without a plan?

“How do I set priorities for my business?” I am glad you asked.

Start with setting one or two business objectives for each quarter of the year. You may choose to launch a new product the first quarter of the year, revamp your website during the second quarter, create marketing materials for the third quarter, and develop an outsourcing strategy for the fourth quarter.

The following is a proven process for breaking down a large objective into monthly, weekly, and daily priorities:

  • Start with your quarterly objective.
  • Ask yourself, what would have to happen this month to achieve this objective?
  • What would have to happen this week?
  • What would have to happen today?

Once you have defined what needs to happen each day, week, month, and quarter, put those items on your calendar and to-do list with a big star next to them. (I like to use Tasks in MS Outlook, and set a reminder). Now you know what has to be completed on specific days before you start answering phone calls or emails. No matter what the rest of the day brings, you know you have completed the things that are essential to steadily move your business forward.

This small routine will help reduce your stress because you’ll no longer lie in bed, wondering what the heck you accomplished that day. Instead, you will have taken concrete steps towards achieving your most important business objectives. (P.S. This works great with personal objectives, too!).

Now that you have your priorities set for each day, week, month, and quarter, how will you know if all that work will fit into your schedule?  The next article in this series will take a look at how you can manage those fleeting 24 hours we all have to work within.

© Dmccale | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images 

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