The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Take Calls First
For me, I work around my calls for the day. A lot of my efforts for the company are centered on business development, so calls and meetings are usually the priority. Then I schedule my other tasks around them. It works for me because it allows me to see the pockets in my day that I can plan to write my articles, send emails, or have internal meetings.
Plan Every Day Out in Advance
The last thing that I do every day is plan in detail my next day of work. The most unproductive and demotivating thing you can do is start your day having no clue what you’ll be doing. The first 30 minutes of your day sets the tone for the rest of it, so if you spend that time working on your most important task, you’ll pretty much guarantee the rest of your day will be a success.
It’s easy to lose sight of long-term goals that push a business forward in favor of focusing on daily to-dos. At the start of each week, I categorize my tasks based on those that will help me achieve my goals and those that need to get done but do not contribute to my goals. I tackle the goal-oriented tasks first, which helps me to stay on track and feel a greater sense of accomplishment.
Start With What’s Most Difficult
It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of administrative tasks when running a business. Usually, harder tasks tend to drive the business forward. I try to tackle at least one hard thing a day. For me, it’s usually first thing in the morning when I’m at my best. Then, I reflect on what I’ve accomplished during a week to make sure my time is allocated to the hard tasks driving the most value.
– JT Allen, myFootpath LLC
Create a Hierarchy (Even for the Tiny Things)
For me, clients sit as the No. 1 priority for my business, so I’ve created a hierarchy where anything client related gets immediately put to the top of the team’s to-do list. It might sound a little ridiculous, but something as simple as mailing an envelope gets put to the top of the list because I’ve found that the little tasks do add up or get forgotten about (which can cause big problems).
Limit Your Agenda to a Post-It Note
I write my to-do list on a Post-It note and put any items that don’t fit on my calendar for a future time. There is only so much one can do in a day, and I find it better to have a smaller, manageable list than have a long list that is impossible to finish. Plus, it’s very satisfying to cross things off and crumple up the Post-It at the end of the day.
Do What You Dislike the Most First
You should take care of the work you dislike the most first or else you’re never going to finish it. If you continue to prolong it, your list will only get longer. As the day progresses, people get tired and unmotivated, so while you have the energy in the morning, finish the work and get it out of the way.
– Nicholas Nadjarian, Industrial Motor Power Corp.
Deprioritize Rather Than Prioritize
To grow your company, grow yourself. When looking at your to-do list, dispatch everything that someone else can do better or even 80 percent as well. To make time for your growth, deprioritize rather than prioritize. Success at the end of the day is measured in the things that got done without you; not by what you got done.
Separate the Urgent From the Important
I separate my tasks between the urgent and the important. Urgent tasks are tied to a timeframe and usually related to someone else’s or business goals. Important tasks are usually related to your own long-term personal or work goals. When I look at my priority list for the day, I prioritize the urgent matters first and then move back to the important task list.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.