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Prioritize Your Work Day

By Townes Haas   |    December 29, 2015   |    1:54 PM

Lost in the clutter of thousands of to-dos? Here's how you should prioritize your tasks to get the things that really need attention done.

Start with the hardest thing first

We tend to avoid those things we don't want to do, hence they get swept to the bottom of the pile. But to achieve what needs to be done, you cannot postpone the inevitable. Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, once said that the first thing he does in the office each day is the task he dreads the most. Whatever work tasks have been daunting you should be what you tackle first. This way the day will be an easy downhill walk once you have completed that task.

Align your priorities with your bottom line

As an entrepreneur you need to ascertain what drives your bottom line. What do you consider vital for your business growth and success? Is it improving branding, hiring top talent, expanding your business overseas, securing another major account or acquiring additional funding? Once you have evaluated what your business needs right now to flourish, then you can ensure you prioritize those key elements. Once you tackle these, you will find that your priorities will change as your company evolves and matures. You will need to continually revise your priorities.

Make a table of priorities you can look at

It may seem counter-productive to add another item to your task list, but visual tools can help you as an entrepreneur to envision the importance of your priorities. Each week create a table in a spreadsheet or document which categorizes each task by order of importance and urgency. Once you have filled this table in, print it out so you can visualize what you need to do, post it above your desk or somewhere where you will be forced to look at it throughout your day. You will gain satisfaction as you accomplish each task and tick each item off the list.

Never check your email first thing

It might seem odd not to look at your in-box when you first get up but if you have a long list of tasks to do, none of which involve writing or sending emails, then you need to focus on those things, email can wait. According to Mashable reports, email takes up to 28 percent of a worker’s time. A study by McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corp. demonstrated that email is the second-most time-consuming activity for workers, and since you are an entrepreneur, it probably consumes even more of your precious hours! Time can be better spent than checking email. Even though it may feel like you are working and being productive, the truth is emails will not help you achieve any of your goals. Once you have accomplished some of your key tasks then you can check your inbox. You might want to set aside a specific time of day when you handle emails or ask your virtual assistant to deal with them for you. If you are expecting an urgent email that you need to personally take care of, have your assistant alert you.