if you are anything like me you have a huge to do list of jobs on the go. we have work we need to do for our business, we have work we need to do ON our business, and if we are trying to add or start anything new we have an additional list of jobs just to get the new stuff going.
it can be overwhelming. panic inducing, even!
a few people have asked me recently “how do i decide which jobs to concentrate on?” so i thought i would share a few of the strategies that work for me…
i always start with the tasks that will earn money.
this could be directly (i do a job for someone and they pay me) or indirectly (i need to get some promotional images ready for a new product i am launching) but i find that if i start with the tasks that earn money i am actually more productive throughout the whole day. (as opposed to starting off randomly cruising around online trying to get my ass in gear. though i do indeed still have those days!)
also, it puts me in the right mindset. the "this is a business. i am not a volunteer. i aim to earn money doing what i love" mindset.
i do a brain dump.
sometimes the thing that gets me feeling the most stressed about my to do list is that it is there churning around in my head. i will be working on one task but the other million things i have to do are nagging away at me in the back of my mind. not only does this decrease my productivity but it actually makes me feel quite panicy or anxious.
i find that if i grab my notebook and jot down all of that stuff swimming around my brain the panic receeds and i can focus again. half the time there aren’t nearly as many ‘to do’s as i thought there was, the other half the time i can see that a lot of them are either not important or really not a big deal.
and yes, i do actually carry around a notebook. i even have a few sets of pretty pens. even though i am a huge fan of all of my online tools, nothing beats good old pen and paper for braindumps, brainstorming, list making, and planning.
i do one thing a day.
if i have a big job i am working on – say i am working on launching a new product, or redoing my website, or even something ‘monumental’ like “getting my accounts in order” i know that i often either get so focused on that that i forget about everthing else, or i do the opposite which is get so overwhelmed that i do nothing at all.
i find that if i can make the time to do “one thing a day” i feel like i am making progress, and i feel like it is all doable. (one small or even medium task at a time feels more manageable than that huge to do list!)
i keep marching on.
this goes back to that sense of panic and overwhelm that can creep up on you. even if i do a brain dump or break a big job down into one thing a day, i still often get that freaked out feeling like “there is too much to do and not enough freaking time to do it all oh my god i can’t do this!!!” (do you ever get that feeling?)
when that starts to happen i actually take a moment to imagine a date in the future after the deadline or the launch date or whatever, when i know everything will be done and dusted. i know by that time all of those million tasks will actually be checked off the list. so i take a deep breath and simply tell myself…
“it will all get done. keep marching on. one foot in front of the other. one thing at a time”
(i have shared more about this mantra 'keep marching on' in this blog post.)
i know that is not really a physical action that you take to work on the to do list, but this one really works for me. once i feel less anxious i can go pick that one thing off my list and just do it.
i add some fuel to my spark.
i use the word spark to describe that unique combination of our own personal passion, the purpose that drives us to do the work we do, and the ways in which we want to be of service to people. you can call it your secret sauce or your super power or your sweet spot… whatever you want.
my spark includes being creative, teaching something, and brainstorming new ideas, and i know that when i don’t get enough time to do work that includes my spark i start to get twitchy. i resent the other jobs that i have to do, i feel low on enthusiasm for my business, sometimes i just run out of mojo entirely.
so i make sure that i do something every day that fuels my spark.
those are my strategies...
one thing a day to earn money, one thing a day to get a big job done & one thing a day to fuel my spark. for the rest of the stuff i do a brain dump, and then just keep marching on.
if there is one thing i have learned over the years of building my biz is that some strategies are awesome (for me), some are absolute crap (for me). you need to figure out what works for you, which unfortunately means a bit of trial and error. i also don’t think you can implement every strategy that you come across! you are supposed to be reducing the overwhelm. not adding to it! so try one or two things, see how it goes!
if you are interested in finding more tips on productivity, time management, and task management – these are my go to spots:
and i will just add one more thing. people often ask me “how do you have time to do everything you do?” my answer, truthfully, is that i am a bit of a workaholic. i absolutely love the work i do for build a little biz and would rather do biz work that almost anything else. so i don’t have a lot of balance in my life. and i am completely ok with that. i decided a long time ago to stop trying to ‘find balance’ and instead just do what works for me. so don’t judge your ability to get shit done based on what anyone else is doing – just do what works for you. ok?