Do you control your time and your to-do list or does it control you? If you either don’t know the answer to that question or if you answered that you are controlled by your to-dos, here are some steps you can take to rein it in and regain control.
- Make a master to-do list. Chances are you have projects that are long term but if you don’t get them written down, they will subconsciously niggle away at your energy. Write them down and give them a deadline.
- Set your priorities. What do you truly need to do today? What can be moved until tomorrow? What projects will take a lot of effort and you know you should start chipping away at them little by little? Write them down.
- Do you have a set work schedule? Do you have projects that are recurring? Make a list of all nonnegotiable items and their deadlines. If you know you have a standing meeting at 10 am every Monday, map your workday around that.
- Don’t add in so many to-dos that there is no way you could possibly complete them. It is a great feeling to check items off a to-do list but it can deplete your energy if you have so many items that you leave the office at the end of every day with more unchecked items than checked off items.
- Set long term goals. Everyone has a long term goal, an item on his or her to-do list that can be moved around and planned for as a long range item. Remember, it’s easier to eat an elephant one bite at a time rather than all in one sitting.
What do you do to control your workday?
Are you, and is your business, the same as the one down the street? Do you essentially offer the same goods and services? Chances are, if you are both selling widgets, you will need to find a differentiator. What could you do that will set you apart from the competition? Be a Go-To Leader. How do you do that? Through careful positioning and targeting your audience and increasing your network.
Here are some steps I’ve taken to be a thought leader in my industry:
- You need to be visible. If your face isn’t seen at networking and industry events how will people know that you are the Go-To person? Your “face” should also be visible in your social media interactions as well.
- Are you an expert? How do you let people know that? Write/blog about it. Speak about it at networking events.
- Relationship building is key. True Go-To leaders have many connections — valuable connections, not simply numbers on a Twitter feed. Get out of your office, meet people face to face and expand your network.
- Share your knowledge. Being stingy with what you know doesn’t make you a Go-To leader. If you don’t share, how will others come to see you as the Go-To? They won’t.
What can you do to set yourself apart and become the Go-To leader in your industry?
While it may not be a proven fact that optimists win, that attitude certainly can’t hurt your chances at success, can it? Consider that individuals who are optimistic are viewed as being more confident — confident about project outcomes, the future, the task in which they are currently involved. Optimism can very well give you the mindset of one who will succeed versus one who will fail. As a business owner, success is your ultimate goal, right?
Whether you lead an entire organization or an organization of one, you can magnify your results by holding the magnifying glass over the best of all circumstance and building on that.
Here are three ways in which you can hone your optimistic skills:
- Acknowledge that YOU are the sole source of the results that occur. All situations that you encounter on a daily basis have the opportunity to shape you, and ultimately your project outcome. You need to actively manage both your attitude and outlook as well as motivating those with whom you work.
- Focus on the best in those with whom you work and interact. If you walk into a situation expecting the best, that attitude will spill over onto those around you. Even if you miss a goal, take it in stride, look back at what went wrong and adjust your course.
- Talk about your successes. If you hand out, or receive performance reviews, it is the best time to shine a spotlight on what you’ve done well, and look into what you may need to improve upon.
If you feel you’re not an optimist, never fear, it is a trait that can be learned and honed.
Regardless of where you live or what you do for a living, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. The great equalizer is how we spend those hours. There are days when we walk away from our desk and look at a to-do list that is all done! On other days we walk away at quitting time and haven’t made it through the list and know that tomorrow morning we have to finish that list in addition to a new one!
How can you get more done in a day when you only have 24 hours to work with? Here are some things I practice:
- Is there a project that seems too daunting? Task you are putting off for no particular reason? Chances are there is a “particular reason.” It could be that the task is outside your wheelhouse. Or it is simply that doesn’t fit with your vision and mission for your business or your life. If you have a project that is hanging over your head, step back and look at the true reasons you’re not finishing it. I’ll bet you’ll uncover what’s blocking you and once you do, you’ll be able to move forward. Even breaking a large project into smaller chunks can go a long way toward completion.
- Did you know that you were not born a procrastinator? None of us are. It is a behavior that we learn as we go along. In some cases, people procrastinate as a way to rebel. In other cases, we simply may not have enough information to move the project forward so we do nothing. Determine what your true reason for procrastination is and move past that.
- Did you know that stressing about a project or your to-do list can lead to poor health? It can. Use your 24 hours wisely when it comes to project completion and to simply taking care of yourself. A project crossed off – or delegated to another – will help you move onto other tasks and will also benefit your overall health and wellbeing.
We believe in to-do lists as a guide for our workday but not as a strict taskmaster – a to-do list is not a punishment for things left undone – it is a tool to help you stay focused and crossing an item off is reward itself!