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How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Maximize Productivity

productivity tips Jun 19, 2018

How are you managing your days? Do you have at least some sort of master list of things you need to do somewhere? Hopefully not just on post it notes all over your desk nor a 20 page word doc with 300 things on it. How are you deciding what you should be focusing on and when?  How are you deciding what to do first?

Today’s post really centers around a few key tweaks that I made to how I structure my day that have made a WORLD of difference in my efficiency.

Schedule

First, you need a schedule. If you are someone that is winging your days, knock it off. Before you can figure out what to do each day, you need to have a plan for when you’re going to do it. I work off of a block schedule for my weeks. If you’re new to block scheduling, I highly highly recommend creating one. The premise is simple, you organize and batch your tasks into several blocks or buckets and then you schedule blocks of time to complete them in your week. This allows you to keep focus on a bunch of related tasks at the same time which keeps you from jumping around to different things and wasting time getting re-focused. Since I’ve got 2 businesses and also 3 kids, keeping a strict block schedule of WHEN I work on certain tasks for each business is so important for me to get everything done throughout the week. So I have certain blocks for my consulting business, a couple of blocks carved out for Wedding Business Bosses work, a block for recording and editing podcast episodes, a block for handling all my business finances, etc. If you don’t have a block schedule yet, I go into more detail on how to create one during my 7 Day Productivity Challenge (kristinkaplan.com/challenge). 

Choose your Top 3

Once you have your schedule for the week mapped out, you need to carve out a specific time to do your MOST important tasks of the day. I prefer to choose a top 3. When I’m planning out my week on Sunday evenings, I look at what my most important tasks are and I star them. Now these are the tasks that MOVE your business forward. These shouldn’t be client related. We all typically have no issues getting client work done when we need to but it’s always the work on the back end of our businesses that tends to fall by the wayside. So you HAVE to prioritize it.

Choose 3 tasks, each should take no more than 30 minutes or if you’ve got some monster tasks on your plate, just choose 1 top task for the day if it’s going to take you more than an hour. Put those top tasks at the top of your list each day of the week. These MUST be tasks that move the needle of your business forward whether it be content creation, marketing tasks, refining your products or services, tasks that directly relate to the GROWTH of your business and making more sales. No client work. Also these tasks might be some of the harder tasks for you, but that’s the point. Whenever a client tells me they can’t seem to find the time to write a blog post, or they hate doing their bookkeeping and somehow it just never gets done, I tell them, you have to make those tasks a priority. I know they are hard, or they aren’t your favorite but if you designate them as a top task, instead of letting them live at the bottom of your todo list, you’ll be a lot more likely to get them done.

Complete the Top 3 Tasks

So now that you’ve created your schedule and decided on your top 3 tasks for each day. Here’s the most important step. Do those tasks FIRST. Before you open your email, before you open Instagram, before you fall down a dark hole of client work. Do them FIRST. Be sure you have carved out at least an hour or two at the START of your day for your top tasks. I call this my focus block and it’s the first block in my schedule every day. Why do I do these tasks first in the morning?

- First as I just mentioned, you won’t let yourself get distracted by other things

- Second, I also tend to have the most energy and focus in the morning (as do many people) so that’s why it’s the best time for me to handle those Top 3 tasks. Because once I get tired and that mid-afternoon slump sets in, I’ll find all sorts of reasons to procrastinate and everything I do is going to take 10 times longer. So by doing my top 3 most important tasks first thing in the morning I get them done FAST and my brain is fresh.

- Third, when you get a few hard tasks, the most important big tasks off your plate at the very start of the day, you are going to be SO motivated! You’re going to feel awesome and crazy accomplished. And that’s going to give you a great boost to then dive into the rest of the work on your plate. 

There is a great quote from Mark Twain, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” If you haven’t heard of the concept of eating the frog, I know that sounds strange but the idea is if you get the biggest, most daunting task out of the way FIRST, it’s all downhill from there. And since those tasks that require you to work ON your business are often those that are the most daunting and the most likely to be pushed off to a different day, when you do that top 3 first, and you eat the frog, you get the biggest stuff out of the way and you can move on to the rest of your day and it will only get easier.

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