Almost anyone who has run a business will agree that one of the most difficult hurdles is managing the overwhelming quantity of work to be done. And with only 4% of businesses ever achieving more than £1 million turnover, and 0.4% achieving £10 million, it’s worth scrutinising how this and other factors are holding business owners back from running an even bigger business than they already do.
In my experience, having engaged with some of the brightest minds and most motivated business owners in the UK, I have some confidence is noting that one of the primary reasons for stunted business growth is a lack of time management, which generally has been the result of an inefficient delegation processes.
This, in turn, has usually arisen from business leaders not identifying more carefully exactly which tasks should be assigned out to their team, and which they should be doing themselves.
I’ve discussed the 4D framework for productivity before, but I want to share a slightly simpler version – one which lets you swap out your “to-do” list for something more successful.
Purpose and Priority
Let’s take a little look at this diagram:
What this little triangle is telling us is that you need to start with purpose. (Remember Start With Why? Similar concept.) Why are you actually trying to do these tasks? What is the reason you want these things done, and what is the ultimate driving force behind you spending time on any task at all?
Once you have purpose, you can move on to considering what your priorities are. Which things are most important to you and which things aren’t as critical? What order should you do them in?
With purpose and priority, you automatically start achieving productivity, and in business, that automatically results in profitability.
So the key is to tweak that to-do list to highlight the tasks with priority and purpose so you aren’t just blindly pouring out your effort into a massive to-do list and not getting an adequate return on that investment of effort.
3 Steps to Creating Your Success List
Step 1: Create Your To-Do List
The classic to-do list is an important starting point in this process. Do a total mind-dump of all the things you need to do.
What I usually advise to clients is to open a simple spreadsheet at the end of each day, and at the beginning of every week, and note down everything that needs to be done. This is your “to achieve” list.
The next two steps are what converts this “to achieve” list into a “success list” instead.
Step 2: The Priority Question
Ask yourself, “If I were only allowed to do three things today/this week, what would those be?”
With this question you begin to prioritise and start to separate out the “should do” and “have to do” tasks from the “could do” or “would like to do” tasks.
Step 3: The Leverage Question
This is the important step that gets true leverage from your list and transforms it fully into a success list. Ask yourself the question, “Are these the things that make everything else easier or unnecessary?”
While it is likely that sometimes your day will consist of fire-fighting and taking care of the ‘urgent’ tasks, if you have a success list built off this question, then you will automatically ensure your most important tasks – the ones that are giving you the greatest return – are front of mind.
A lot of people stop at step 1. The good workers stop at step 2. But the most successful people are constantly doing step 3.
Most people create a long and overwhelming laundry list of things to do, and then wonder why they feel so unproductive. Developing this success list will guide you away from the procrastination that comes from doing little, insignificant tasks and steers you into achieving the big tasks that take your business forward.
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