As a small business owner, you undoubtedly wear at least 100 different hats day to day. You could be a photographer and a bookkeeper and the tax man and an editor and a writer and a curator and an office admin and the list goes on. It’s no secret that everyone feels like their to-do lists are 100 miles long, with no end in sight.
And what’s even more overwhelming than the length of our to-do lists, is the fact that most days, it seems like we go to bed with an even longer to-do list than when we woke up. (I mean seriously, how do these lists always grow?)
Today, let’s talk about my favorite way to get the important tasks on your list done.
Set your top 3 priorities each and every day, and set them in order of importance.
At the top of my daily planner (–yes, I use a planner on top of using Asana and HoneyBook because I love crossing things off as much as the next girl), there is a spot for my “3 focus points for the day”. Each day, I open it up and lay it out on my desk in full view to grab my focus. No matter how organized my digital planners are, they still get lost in a sea of open browser tabs, so I love having my planner open with my priorities for the day.
(I use the Daily Greatness Business Planner and love it!)
Image Source: Daily Greatness
I’ll sit down in the morning, during the first 15 minutes of my day and plan out what my top 3 priorities are for the day.
I recently started planning my weeks out in Asana in advance, with time blocks for the major projects I have going on in my business. At this time, I have time blocks for working on The Fireside Retreat, my Systems Course for Creatives, my photography clients, my coaching clients, my workflow clients, and content creation in general.
I’ve divvied up the time blocks to different days. For example, I know that Wednesday is the day I write blogs for Laura Lee Creative and am mentally prepared to sit down and get busy! But first, on Wednesday morning, I’ll write out my top 3 priorities for the day, based on what my time blocks are themed around on that day. (On Wednesdays, my top 3 priorities would likely be the 3 blogs I have planned for that week.)
But how do you figure out what your priorities should be?
I get this question a lot, and if you’re asking it– you’re not alone!
Your daily priorities should be the tasks you do each day to get you closer towards your bigger goals.
I believe your daily priorities are the things you should be doing each day to bring you closer to your yearly goals. Two of my goals this year are to blog consistently and create the best resources I can for creative business owners. Therefore, some of my time blocks are going to be time for writing and content creation.
When we don’t write down our yearly goals and break them down into actionable steps, it can be extremely easy to get stuck in the day to day minutiae. As business owners, especially service-based businesses who deal with multiple clients, it can be far too easy to fill our days with the things that other people are asking us to do. There are about 10,000 ways we can be distracted in this day and age, so it’s important that you prioritize the tasks that will get you closer to your goals, and say a gentle no to the things that just fill your day with busy work.
Pro Tip: Protect your time! I’ve recently made a large effort of clearing my calendar so that I could work on some priority projects I have coming up, and it’s been a breath of fresh air being able to work on some BIG things rather than day to day maintenance work for my business. How are you protecting your time on a daily basis?
Your Top 3 Priorities
Funny story! Up until about 80 years ago, the word priority had NO pluralization. “Priorities” was not a word! But as life around the globe seemed to speed up instead of slow down, the pluralization of the word priority became widespread around 1940. So, in an effort to stay true to the root of the word, I try to set one top priority, and then a second a third– but these are written out in the order of importance!
Here are some examples of my priorities on a daily basis for one week:
- Write Blog Recap Newsletter
- Write Story based Newsletter
- Clean out Email Inbox
- Outline 1 retreat talk
- Book retreat accommodations
- Post one Instagram story about retreat
- Write Blog 1 for Laura Lee Creative
- Write Blog 2 for Laura Lee Creative
- Write Blog 3 for Laura Lee Creative
- Photography Client Work
- Coaching Client Work
- Write Blog for Laura Lee Photography
- Write Instagram posts for upcoming week
- Be a resource in Facebook groups for 30 minutes
- Personal to-dos
Pro Tip: When I check email first thing in the morning, my priority tasks almost never get done. I’ve made an effort recently to not check my email until right before lunch so that I can focus on the things that are most important to me before the world has a chance to distract me or add to my to-do list. So, my advice? Start with your priority tasks first thing in the morning, and then jump into email once they’re done, or all the other day to day tasks you need to do in your business.
So tell me, how do you prioritize your days? What is something you’re working towards right now that isn’t getting the attention it deserves? How can you build tasks to bring you towards your goals into your current daily schedule?