This is a very busy time for us here at EnMart. We’re gearing up for the 2010 trade show season. EnMart is working to open a fourth warehouse in Georgia. Research is being done on new products we plan to add to our web site. We’re considering ideas for contests. The blog and web site and being edited and updated. The to do list of wants and needs and tasks is running into a second volume, which is a good, but occasionally overwhelming, thing.
Because of the time of year, and the nature of running a business, I have to guess that we’re not the only company that is facing a long list of things to be done. Given that fact, I thought it might be a good idea to write a post sharing the top five ways we keep our long to do list from being overwhelming. My hope is that you will also share some of your tips for time management in the comments so that, when we’re done, we’ll have a great list of ideas that might be of help to those people who are feeling a little overwhelmed right now.
Tip # 1: Actually make a list – Some people don’t like writing down their tasks simply because seeing the list on paper seems so overwhelming. Even if seeing the entire list in print does make your day seem filled to the brim, writing things down helps make sure you won’t forget anything important. Plus, studies have shown that being able to cross a task off the list will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which could help propel toward finishing the next task.
Tip #2: Determine ROI – When deciding the level of importance of each task, figure out what the return on investment (ROI) or payoff will be. Say, for instance, you’re trying to decide between attending a local Chamber of Commerce meeting and reducing your to be filed pile. Keeping your files in order is a good thing to do, but that’s something which could be done anytime. The local Chamber of Commerce meeting only happens at a specific time and it has the potential to bring more customers to your business. The meeting clearly has a better ROI and is worth spending your time.
Tip #3 – If you can, delegate – I recognize that not every small business owner has someone to whom they can delegate, but even family and friends who aren’t directly connected to the business can be asked for help when time is short. Make a separate lists of tasks that need to be done but which don’t have to be done by any specific person and delegate those tasks.
Tip #4 – Schedule time to organize your list – Take a half an hour every morning or evening to review and revise your list. Keep a calendar so you have a reminder of upcoming deadlines. As things pop up on the deadline list, they can be added to the master list. Reserving this time helps to ensure that your list will always be up to date, and that you will be concentrating on the most urgent and immediate tasks.
Tips #5 – Give Yourself a Break – A list is a guideline for what needs to be done, but it shouldn’t become an imperiative. Don’t expect to cross every item off the list every day. Learn to accept the fact that some less important or less time sensitive tasks might be on the list for months. Count any day where you can cross a few items off the list as a day where you got something accomplished and be proud of that fact.
Those are some of the tips that we use here at EnMart. I hope some of you will share your favorite list management techniques in the comments. I’m always looking for new suggestions on how to manage my time, and I bet others who read this blog would find them helpful as well.