The Infinite Task List

Bored? Not busy? Don’t know what to do today? I’m guessing NOT! If you’re like me, your ‘To Do List’ is endless.

As entrepreneurs we should never be short of things to do. We are more likely to complain about not enough hours in the day rather than being bored.

However there is a very real danger in business that your infinite task list – rather than being a facilitator – is really REALLY holding back your progress. Because you are busy just doing STUFF, not the juicy bits to make your business thrive and grow.

I am REALLY BAD at this. I do FAR too much stuff – but I hope you will share my journey in curing my addiction to my infinite task list. Because this task list, to do list, planes to land will hold me back if I let it. Why? Because although all this stuff really does need doing, it ain’t the BEST use of MY time. And time – well the one thing I don’t have a lot of is TIME – because I have lots of other stuff I want be doing – not my infinite task list. This isn’t time management BTW – more like time mastery!

So here are my suggestions for making sure your infinite task list is:
a) Relevant
b) what you personally should be doing 
c) in control (because mine isn’t!!!)
d) finite and achievable!

Firstly, do you personally HAVE to do this? Big question. If the answer is no, don’t do it. Note I didn’t say – “do you WANT to do this?” Because often when we grow our businesses we move away from doing the things we love doing. For example – I love marketing my business – it’s one of my favourite things – but I am increasingly delegating it because even though I LOVE doing it – I have bigger fish to fry. So ask your self – do you personally have to do that item on your to do list – or can someone else do it – albeit differently – but just as well? If the answer is yes cross it off your to do the list and stick it on theirs.

Are there items on your To Do List that are not that important when you really REALLY drill down into it? Nice to do or mission critical to your business plan? I increasingly have to be RUTHLESS with this. Networking? Coffee? Lunch? Facebook updates? These activities waste hours – I love doing all that but my time is so very precious I simply can’t do these things anymore. Beware of ‘nice to do, but not important’. Essential distinction to make.

What activity is going to produce the best return on investment of your time? If you have to choose between activities such as a series of minor tweaks to your website that may take a couple of hours versus using those couple of hours on the phone to prospects, what would have the fastest and best ROI? The same time frame –and exponentially different results. In our weekly planning meets in our marketing department – which consists of just me and Ali BTW – we go through all the ideas and concepts we have to do and literally go – “where do they fit into the business plan, are they nice to do or are they mission critical?” – and prioritize them accordingly. So award application versus direct marketing to a hundred franchise potentials? The direct marketing will win every time. Ideally both – but if we are up against it we choose what is going to bear the most fruit.

A lot of you will say – “well it’s okay for you Kate, you have a big company, you have people to delegate it to.”

I do not.

I have a company that turns over a lot, and has a lot of sites but we run the whole she-bang with a team of only twelve people. We run a very lean profit model so we cannot afford to employ lots of labour so we have to be VERY smart with our time.

In summary – it’s just three easy points – 1) do you have to do this, 2) is the item nice to do or mission critical, and 3) what offers me the best ROI on my time – to be applied to everything on your to do list to get it under control. I say CONTROL because you also have to realise one major thing. The infinite task list is infinite. Seriously – all the time you have a business you will have an infinite task list. But don’t feel pressurised – feel grateful. To get up every day with purpose is a privilege. To get up with a purpose and to be 100% in receipt of the rewards of your purpose is a privilege very few get to have. So relish your task list, and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking off your To Do’s.

Have a great week.