You’re busy. You probably have a “to do” list to keep you on task. The tighter your focus is during the day, the more you can accomplish. That means you have to let some things go by the wayside. We rarely create a written list of things to ignore, but we store all of them in our minds.
My ignore list is shaped through the prism of knowing what is most important in growing my business: acquiring new customers. If something comes up that isn’t focused on business development, I tend to ignore it because it will not help me achieve my goal.
By ignore, I don’t really mean to completely ignore doing something that needs to be done, just delegate it or put it off for after-hours work. For example, I don’t enjoy doing bookkeeping work so I hired someone else to do that. Also, my company gets so many customer support calls each day that I need a team to manage the volume. I’m always available for special cases, but most calls are easily supported by others.
The things I don’t focus on during the day allow me time to concentrate on the things that I need to focus on, the things that will help my company grow, the things that need to be done during normal work hours.
Here is my ignore list. I usually do these tasks during off-hours:
- Bookkeeping review (I have a bookkeeping team who handles day to day tasks)
- Catching up on my blog reading
- Reviewing reports
- Tweeting (I often schedule posts to go out throughout the day)
- Basic research for competitive analysis
- Administrative tasks that I can’t delegate to someone else
My role during work hours is to generate new business, form partnerships and figure out other ways to grow the company. Anything else gets put on my ignore list till later.
Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Positive change in your life comes from changing what you do or how you do it – in other words, it comes from developing new good habits.
This good habit is simple to implement and will double your productivity very quickly:
On Friday afternoon before you leave work, make a list of tasks that you want to accomplish the following week.
This list should be no more than 10-20 items long. It is not your major goal list, things that you want to accomplish this quarter or year. This is a list of actionable items that you need to do. It is tactical, not strategic. Don’t combine two tasks into one. Keep them separate. Scratch off each item as you complete it.
- Make travel arrangements for next month’s trip
- Set up team meeting to come up with proposal ideas for Blacky’s account
- Write first draft of Blacky’s proposal
- Take Tuesday as an imagination day (what’s an imagination day?)
- Write company blog post on how new proposed legislation in our state will affect customers
- Draft job description for intern position
- Call local universities to find out how to post intern position to their job boards
- Enjoy Friday afternoon off to play golf
Notice that one example item included scheduled downtime. If it gets on your calendar, you increase the chances of it happening.
I use a small spiral notebook for my weekly list. It sits by my desk so I can refer to my tasks quickly and also reference tasks from prior weeks. I can see which tasks I had to shuffle to future weeks.
This single good habit of making a weekly task list before you head out of the office on Fridays can double your productivity.
Ask yourself this question every morning and you will see dramatic progress in achieving your goals:
What is the most productive use of my time today?
You can always get more money, but you can never get back time. Look at your calendar. What meetings are scheduled for today and for the rest of the week? What items are on your “to do” list? Are all of these meetings and tasks things that you must do or can someone else take care of them for you? And will these take you closer to achieving your desired goals? (Maybe writing down your goals should be one of your “to do” list items.)
Take a moment and rethink what is on your calendar right now. What meetings and tasks should be on your list that aren’t? The most productive people write these items down and follow through.
Make a point of asking yourself this very important question at the start of every day. Your future depends on it.