Prioritizing tasks on your ‘to do’ list can often be a daunting job in itself, especially when you are trying to keep a whole lot of different people happy. Previously I have discussed focusing on just 3 tasks at a time in my article Make Prioritizing Work Tasks Simple. Another simple way of prioritizing your ‘to do’ list is to put a deadline date (or time) next to each task.
I re-write my ‘to do’ list for the next day each evening before I leave the office. A day can be a long time when working in a small business, situations can transform quickly and the urgency or relevancy of tasks can change like the wind. This is why I find re-writing my ‘to do’ list each day gives me a chance to reassess each task. On top of marking my most dreaded task to do first thing the next morning (discussed in First Job Of The Day, Hard Job Of The Day), I have recently started jotting a deadline date down for each task. What is the latest date each task has to be done by?
You may have a rolling ‘to do’ list or you may revise it more or less frequently than I do, but regardless of how you manage your tasks, without setting deadlines it is just an intimidating lump of work that has to be done. All it takes is a couple of minutes to set your deadlines and your priorities work themselves out. Next time you feel intimidated by your workload, get rid of that overwhelmed feeling by putting setting deadlines for all your tasks and just get stuck in!
This evening, my meal menu provided an outstanding argument why you should always double check your marketing material before it makes its way into your customers’ hands.
I’d already decided on a garlic naan to go with Chicken Tikka Masala, I just had to decide what to wash it down with. A picture of the drinks menu has been included so you can understand why I decided to grab something from the fridge when I got home!
While we got plenty of amusement out of this one while waiting on our meal, it really does go to show why a second set of eyes is essential when you are putting together new marketing material. No matter how many times you check something, there is always a mistake that seems to goes unnoticed. So save yourself the embarrassment of your customers having a laugh at your expense and have someone you can rely on to look over your work before it hits the market.
If you manage a small business, prioritizing your work tasks is absolutely essential. Any manager in a small business has a never-ending and ever evolving ‘to-do’ list. Identifying the most important jobs to get done can sometimes be as challenging as actually executing them. A simple business practice used by the late Steve Jobs can be easily modified to structure a regular review of your ‘to-do’ list.
Jobs would ask his top people to submit a list of 10 things they needed to get done. Once their list was completed he would tell them they could only do 3 of the tasks. By doing so Jobs ensured his employees wouldn’t get lost in an endless list of work to get done, but focus on the 3 tasks that were absolutely necessary to get ticked off.
This simple practice provides a fantastic tool to evaluate your current work requirement situation regularly. It may be a weekly or daily ritual (regularity will vary based on the complexity of the tasks you are working on) but put aside 5 minutes to review your ‘to-do’ list, highlight your 3 key tasks to complete and make these your focus until there is a tick beside each. Repeat! You’ll be surprised how a simple structure around getting things done can increase efficiency dramatically. It’s also incredibly rewarding to find yourself completing work far more promptly.
So often I find myself working on big projects while getting frustratingly interrupted when ‘little things’ create big problems.
We manufacture food products so I am always vigilant about making sure our packaging stock levels are maintained. But recently a ‘little thing’ slipped through the cracks and almost caused big problems!
All our products include scoops for customers to measure out servings. These are sourced locally with a short lead time, so reordering is painless. But over the past couple of months, our production volumes have ramped up to the point that flexibility has gone out the window. Even a short stock out situation can severely impact productivity and cash flow. Recently this was highlighted when we wasted a significant amount of resources due to a reorder trigger level not being reviewed to take current demand into consideration. Such a ‘little thing’ cost us a lot!
A simple hiccup has led me to look across our business as a whole and put procedures around the ‘little things’ to make sure there is no chance of them becoming a big problem.