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8 End-of-Summer Services to Schedule for Your Business

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7 Ways to Optimize Your 2021 Appointment Schedule

Work doesn’t stop in the summer, but fall still feels like a reset. As the hottest season of the year winds down, it’s time to prepare for what’s ahead.

Internally, this means brainstorming and strategizing for your business. But getting ready for the fall also involves accomplishing some back-burner tasks. These are items that we tend to put off until the last minute. 

Many of these items are more urgent than we might think. Accomplishing them can avert future crises and keep customers happy. Luckily, they also tend to be services that people outside your company can do. 

Why not get ahead this year? Before summer ends, set up appointments to handle these tasks:

1. Deep-cleaning the office

Especially as COVID-19 rages on, keeping the office clean is an ongoing task. But once in a while, it’s necessary to do a deeper clean than usual. 

Think about the spaces in your office that receive less attention. Grime can build up and attract pests over time. So before the fall, hire a company to clean every nook and cranny. 

Treat this as an office reset. Encourage everyone to take home old trinkets, snacks, and other possessions they don’t need to do their jobs. 

2. Repainting

Your walls might need a new coat of paint before the summer ends. Small marks and scrapes build up, especially if you regularly have kids in the office.

Repainting is an opportunity to rethink your office color palette. Choose wisely to make the space more relaxing for customers and employees. Earthy tones can help you cultivate an atmosphere that is both inviting and productive. 

3. Cleaning the gutters

It’s easy to forget, but getting your gutters cleaned is a critical part of protecting your office.You need to clear them at least once a year to protect your roof, your foundation, and your landscape from excessive rainwater. 

Make sure the professional you hire is insured. Accidents happen, especially when people are on a roof. 

4. Checking your heating system

As fall approaches, the weather is going to start cooling down. It’ll be a nice respite from the summer heat at first, but it won’t be long before the chill sets in.

Don’t wait until your heater fails to get it serviced. Before the mercury drops below freezing, make sure it’s ready to handle the colder months. Your customers won’t want to sit in the cold as they wait for their appointment. 

5. Scheduling a group counseling session

Unlike the prior suggestions, this service is not for your building. But it could transform the dynamics of your team members for the better. 

As people buckle down and vacation season ends, getting the team together for a heart to heart is a great idea. Scheduling a group counseling session can let people air grievances and bond in ways that an all-staff meeting simply can’t. 

Unless you’re trained, don’t try to facilitate this yourself. To make group counseling work for your team:

  • Explain how you think counseling would help the team.
  • Coordinate everyone’s schedule to find the right time.
  • Ask a licensed professional counselor to come to your office — or to chat with everyone on Zoom.
  • Prepare your employees for what to expect beforehand.
  • Conduct a retrospective by asking each attendee’s takeaways.

6. Prepping Q3 taxes

Tax day is coming on September 15, but don’t panic: There’s still time to sit down with your CPA. Still, you don’t want to find yourself scrambling to get all of your paperwork together at the last minute.

If you don’t have an in-house accountant, reach out to local accounting services. Determine who has capacity to squeeze you in. Before deciding on one, ask around: Have other entrepreneurs in your area had a good or bad experience with any of them?

7. Redesigning your website

Has it been a while since your company website got an update? Hopefully, it’s updated with your company’s information. But a full-scale redesign might also be in order

Redesigning your website is a good way to revitalize your brand and roll out something special this fall. You can also make navigation more user friendly so that customers can more easily book appointments and make purchases. 

Bring a web designer in, and brainstorm ideas that they can work with. The right person can take what you give them to another level.

8. Servicing company vehicles

If your company relies on vehicles, make sure that they’re running smoothly before the fall. Get an oil change, rotate the tires, check the battery, and make sure the antifreeze is in good condition. You don’t want a nasty surprise, such as a vehicle not starting, when a member of your team is heading out to an appointment. 

The sooner you get these back-burner tasks done, the better you’ll be able to focus on what your business does best. End the summer with these preparatory tasks, and you’ll set your business up for an even better fall. 

14 Business Tasks That Can Be Automated

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How to Use Appointment Software in Your Personal Life

As a business owner, you have a full plate. But, did you know that you can free-up your most valuable asset by automating tedious and redundant tasks? I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have the budget or knowledge to afford such luxuries. But here are 14 business tasks that can be automated.

In reality, these tools are affordable and user-friendly. And, this small investment will save you time and energy so that you can focus on your priorities.

Not sure where to start? Well, here are 14 business tasks that can be automated. You’ll thank us later.

1. Scheduling appointments.

Whether it’s trying to figure out when to have dinner with friends or book an important meeting with a client, scheduling appointments can be like pulling teeth. You suggest a date and time, only for the other party to throw out a completely different option. Next thing you know, you’re engaged in an elaborate game of cat and mouse.

Thankfully, with calendar scheduling apps that’s no longer a problem. Simply share your calendar with others through email or embed it onto your website. Now they can see when you’re available and select a date and time that works from them. The event is then automatically added to everyone’s schedules.

Moreover, you can make appointments with yourself, such as blocking out time for your priorities. It’s a safe way to guarantee that you won’t book something else during that timeframe.

And, better yet, tools like Calendar use machine learning to see how you’re spending your time. It will then make smart suggestions on how to schedule meetings so that those dog days of going back-and-forth are over. It’s pretty much-putting scheduling appointments on autopilot.

2. Master your to-do-list.

Are to-do-lists flawless? Of course not. But, they can still come in handy when planning how to spend your time. And, this is most true when your list has been prioritized.

As you’ve probably guessed, automation can help you make your lists mare effective. In turn, you’ll be able to conquer it. And, as you cross items off, you’ll want to keep that momentum going. In short, mastering your to-do-list will make you a lean, mean productivity machine.

If you use a tool like Zapier, then you could convert emails, notes, Slack messages, or form submissions into to-dos. Microsoft’s Flow automates workflows, while Focuster will add items from your to-do-list to your calendar.

3. Sorting and responding to emails.

According to a survey from Adobe, respondents “said they spend approximately five hours a day checking work email (three-plus hours a day) and personal email (two-plus hours a day).” That’s bonkers. And, just imagine how out of control your inbox would get if it wasn’t effectively managed!

Automation allows you to eliminate annoying emails or newsletters that are no longer relevant — thanks Sanebox and Unroll.me. You can also create canned responses in Gmail. And, most importantly there’s email automation where create emails that will reach the right people at the right time. For example, if someone placed an order with your company, they would receive an automatic message thanking them for their order and what steps to take next.

4. Posting to social media.

If you want to spread brand awareness, promote events, and engage with your audience, then you need to be active on social media. However, just like email, this can become a time-consuming task as you may get drawn into the rabbit hole of sharing, commenting, and liking.

Solutions like Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to schedule social media in advance. You can also use chatbots to deliver immediate responses. And, tools like Sprout Social can curate content and generate real-time reports.

5. Filling out online forms.

It may not seem like it. But, constantly filling out forms online can be a drag. Just think about how much time you waste plugging in the same information again and again. If you use Chrome, then the Big G will fill out forms automatically for you. But, you can also use RoboForm.

Both of these options are secure. And, they’ll also remember and manage all of your passwords passwords so that you don’t have to search for or reset them.

6. Data back-up.

When I was younger and more naive, I didn’t think about backing-up more computer’s hard drive. Sure enough, it crashed and everything I had on there was lost.

That’s not really a concern today. Most cloud services, whether if it’s Google, Apple, Dropbox, or Carbonite, will automatically back-up your data. That should definitely give you some peace of mind at night.

7. Recruiting and hiring.

Full disclosure here. You will have to actually speak with potential hires. But, automation makes this process a whole lot easier. For instance, with ZipRecruiter you could send out a job description to multiple job search sites at once.

Additionally, tools like Yello can be used to screen candidates and speed-up the interview process. And, since you’re already using scheduling tools, this can also simplify scheduling interviews.

8. Creating proposals.

“Generating a new proposal from scratch can be tedious and exhausting,” writes Sujan Patel over at Inc.com. “Plus, with so many people involved, getting a proposal approved and out the door can sometimes take forever.” And, with so much back-and-forth going on, quality can also take a hit.

“But by investing in proposal management software, such as PandaDoc, you’ll be able to consolidate all of your proposal tasks in one place,” Patel adds. “This will allow you to seamlessly coordinate with sales, marketing, legal and others and avoid confusion that could lead to issues.”

“Within the system, you and your team can also create templates so that you won’t always have to start from scratch,” says Patel. “With a streamlined system, you’ll create better proposals in less time.”

9. Document collecting and auto signature.

Regardless if you have full-time employees or a team of freelancers, there will be times when you need to gather documents and electronic signatures. Sending out reminders can be tedious. And, if you need this information by an exact date, it can also be stressful — think gathering all essential documents during tax season.

Moreover, you may need to have a vendor sign a contract or deal with client intake forms. Long story short, chasing documents, while necessary, is a huge drain on your time. Platforms like Integrify will automatically gather documents for you. Meanwhile, Docusign will automatically digitize important paperwork. It will also send out reminders via email.

10. Invoicing and billing.

We all have bills to pay, like rent, utilities, or payroll. Instead of manually writing checks like your grandparents once did set up automatic bill pay. As an added perk, it ensures that you’ll never be late or forget about paying a bill — which could result in your getting hit with hefty late fees.

Additionally, if you have recurring invoices, you can use a wide range of platforms to send out your invoice. Besides saving you time, it also can help you get paid faster.

Even if you aren’t handing your finances automation can at least free up some of your accountant’s time.

11. Lead nurturing.

The last thing that you want to do is waste your valuable trying to sell your product or service to someone who will never purchase it. That’s why gaining and retaining your leads is so clutch. At the same time, it can also be extremely time-consuming.

With automation, you can quickly respond to inquiries, assign inbound leads to sales reps, follow-up, and segment your leads. After gathering this information, it can automatically be put into a database so that you can pinpoint where they are in the sales funnel.

HubSpot, Act-On, and Marketo are some solid options for nurturing and converting leads.

12. Sales and marketing.

Arguably, the most profitable use of automation is assisting you with sales and marketing. After all, it’s impossible to stay in business when you don’t have cash flowing in.

When it comes to sales, automation can:

  • Set a framework for your sales pipeline.
  • Help you determine and focus on your hottest leads.
  • Remain engaged with prospects who aren’t ready to buy.
  • Welcoming new clients and customers.

Also, it can encourage repeat sales by reminding customers about abandoned carts and when their supply is running low. It can also suggest new products or services that they might be interested in based on past purchases.

13. Customer service and engagement.

Keeping your customers happy is a crucial part of running a business. Besides building loyalty, it can also help attract new customers through referrals and word-of-mouth.

Chatbots, as previously mentioned, can be used to address customer inquires in real-time — even during off-hours. It’s even being anticipated that by 2020, 85% of interactions without human interaction. Bold 360 and Drift are just two tools that can handle this task.

Furthermore, with so much data at your disposal, you can send personalized offers, content, and reminders to your existing customers. You could even attach surveys after a sale to gather much-needed feedback on how to improve.

There are a lot of sales and marketing automation platforms that can assist you in this area. Examples would be Constant Contact for email marketing automation, Keap for CRM, and BuzzPortal for customer engagement.

14. Update contact information.

How embarrassed are you when you call a contact only to be informed that they no longer possess this number? What if you sent out an email and it was returned?

People are constantly changing their contact info. And, if you aren’t on top of that, then you may have a contact book full of outdated information. Addappt addresses this by updating your contact information whenever it’s been changed.

There are some other cool features too, such as birthday and anniversary reminders. And, Addappt will also keep you updated on your contact’s weather conditions. You know. Just to remind them to bring an umbrella if it’s going to rain.

6 Ways to Identify to Whom You’ll Delegate Sensitive Tasks

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Mastering the art of delegation is a skill everyone should learn to master. I know that giving up control is never easy. But, admit it, Tiger. You just can’t do everything on your own. Besides, when you learn how to effectively delegate, you’re able to lessen your workload. As a result, you have more time to focus on areas like growing your business and attending to your own well-being. It’s not always easy, but you’ll need to identify to whom you’ll delegate sensitive tasks.

Delegating specific sensitive tasks cultivates a culture of trust.

What’s more, assign some of your responsibilities can help team members develop and enhance their skills. Delegating specific tasks also cultivates a culture of trust. Having trust in your business can take your business to the next level since you have the right people working on more suitable tasks.

For example, let’s say you do not have a background in accounting. Moreover, crunching numbers paralyzes you with fear. To save time, your sanity, and to avoid potential mistakes, accounting and financial matters would be something that you would hand over to someone else. As soon as your startup can afford it, you definitely would hire an accountant. But, for now, you’ll delegate this specific task to one who is more familiar with accounting and bookkeeping.

Are you’re still uncertain of which tasks to offload? Right upfront in the delegation of jobs, Jenny Blake, in a piece for the Harvard Business Review, suggests using the six T’s:

  • Tiny. These are any small and inconsequential tasks that are neither urgent nor important.
  • Tedious. Straightforward assignments that aren’t deserving of your time, like filling out a spreadsheet.
  • Time-consuming. Important responsibilities that do not require 100% of your energy.
  • Teachable. These are tasks that you teach someone else to take over, such as showing an employee how to draft a presentation deck. Just remember to conduct quality checks and give a final stamp of approval.
  • Terrible at. Anything that you’re not strong at should be assigned to someone who does possess the right skills.
  • Time Sensitive. These are deadlines or urgent matters that compete with your other priorities. For instance, leaving your phone or tablet on a plane. Instead of spending all day on the phone with the airline, this could be done by someone like your assistant.

Delegating work that involves personal information, intellectual property, or company intelligence has to have special care taken with it for security purposes. 

But, what about work that is more sensitive? I’m talking about things that could involve personal information, intellectual property, or plans for a merger. You just can’t assign them willy-nilly. For the safety of you and your company, you’re going to have to identify an individual trusted person. Make certain that sensitive information is in the hands of someone you have complete trust and confidence in — someone who has proven loyalty.

If you’re in this situation, here are six ways to identify the right person to delegate sensitive tasks to..

1. Select someone that you already trust.

When I started my business, my first hires were family members since I trust them wholeheartedly. I was also familiar with what their strengths and weaknesses were. And, even as my business has grown, I still turn them when I need to pass on delicate tasks.

Outside of your spouse, parents, or siblings, you could also relegate these types of responsibilities to friends. I would be careful here, however. Personally, I would only reach out to the people who you know are responsible or who you consider to be confident. If possible, focus on those whom you’ve worked with previously.

And, there are also employees that have been entrusted with such work in the past. When I started Calendar, I hired people who I had worked with before or was currently working with already. I knew what they could and couldn’t do. I also was aware of how dependable they were. If they hadn’t let me down in the past, then I was certain that I could trust them going forward.

2. Get to know your team members.

What about new hires or team members that you’ve never handed over sensitive tasks to? Well, take the time to get to know them better. You could do this by chatting with them during breaks or through team-building activities. Afterward, you’ll get to know their personalities, interests, unique talents and limitations. Now you should be able to match the requirements of the job to the right person.

If you’re stuck on determining which employees are best suited for specific tasks, here are some pointers to guide you in the decision-making process:

  • Any work that is tedious and repetitive should go to employees who are task-focused.
  • Confident employees should be given project management responsibilities.
  • For tasks the require planning, scheduling, or due dates hand them over to organized team members who never miss deadlines.
  • Seasoned employees could be delegated new or unique tasks to break-up the monotony.
  • Your most easy-going staff members could be assigned the things that you hate-to-do.
  • Delegate smaller tasks to newer staff to help them build their confidence and develop new skills. It also allows you to identify what they can be trusted with and what they can not.

3. Pick someone with availability.

There have been times when I overloaded some of the freelancers I hired. Because they want that extra cash and don’t want to lose me as a client, they hardly turned down the work I sent them. Most of the time this isn’t a problem. But, there have been a few occasions when the workload was too much for them. As a result, they either missed deadlines or deliver subpar work.

Now, I always ask them upfront what their capacity is like. If they have availability, I’ll assign them more work. If not, I’ll either change the due dates or work with someone else. To give them peace of mind, I do assure them they when they’re free, I will give them additional work.

I also use this technique with my in-house team. If they’re already swamped they may rush through these sensitive tasks. As a consequence, they either won’t give the work 100% of their focus and are more likely to make errors.

In short, if someone doesn’t have the time, then do not delegate delicate work to them. Ask them what their workload is like or use a shared calendar to see what their schedule looks like.

4. Ask for volunteers.

I’m not gonna lie, this can get tricky — especially when dealing with people who you’re not that acquainted with. But, this does provide an opportunity for you to test their skills. It also gives them a chance to do something that they enjoy or enhance existing talents. And, you’ll be able to see if they can hold themselves accountable.

With that said, I wouldn’t recommend throwing highly sensitive tasks their way right from the get-go. Instead, relegate smaller tasks and give them a chance to prove themselves.

5. Socialize your problems.

There a couple of ways to do this. For one, you could send out a poll to your team asking for their input. You could also hold brainstorming sessions. Or, you could solicit their feedback during less formal interactions. Not only does this create more opportunities for fresh perspectives, but it also lets you discover their interests and skills.

6. Get referrals.

Finally, get referrals from trusted sources. For example, if you feel overwhelmed and need to offload some work, ask your business partner if there is anyone they trust with certain responsibilities. Because they’re already worked with this individual, they should know if they handle the sensitive task that needs to be delegated.

If you’re looking for someone outside your inner circle, like on a freelancing site, carefully read the reviews this person has received. Like with new employees, I wouldn’t immediately ask them to work on something that’s extremely delicate. But, you could start small until you do trust them.

The don’ts of delegation.

Even after you’ve identified the right person to delegate sensitive tasks, here are some common mistakes that you should avoid:

  • Don’t pick your favorites. Word will spread and the rest of your staff will see this as “unfair.” Give everyone a chance to prove themselves and continue to develop.
  • Be wary of fairness. At the same time, don’t get too hung up on fairness. Always select the right person for the job. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to ask handover accounting tasks to your coders.
  • Don’t always go with the most skilled or willing. Again, give your entire team the opportunity to develop or enhance their skills — as long as they’re capable. Also, don’t always pick the person who always volunteers. You need to spread the love.
  • Clearly explain your expectations and outcomes. Before delegating tasks, make sure the person comprehends what needs to be done. And, when it comes to sensitive tasks, make it known that this is a delicate matter so that they are a complement to your guidelines, regulations, or the law.

Spring Clean Your Schedule: 4 Steps to Greater Productivity

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Modern life is hectic. If you’re not careful, it can become a whirlwind of appointments, notifications, and deadlines. In this state of disorganization, it’s easy to push aside some of your basic needs. 

Working some of these basics back into your schedule is a good place to start, but it should be part of a broader picture of resetting your priorities. And there’s no time like the spring to get that done. 

Truly prioritizing allows you to tidy up your schedule, reorganize your days, and, ultimately, achieve more in life. It’s not complicated, but it does require a little effort.

Create a master list

We have different priorities. There are daily tasks that need attention, targets to hit for the week, and things that need to get accomplished within a month. 

The tricky part is that these competing demands rarely line up, and it’s all too easy to focus on what’s most urgent or right in front of you while ignoring the long-term items. To get a handle on these tasks, you need to get everything down in one place.

Step one is to make a master list — a document, app, or a good old piece of paper where all of your tasks are listed. 

This is in keeping with productivity consultant David Allen’s “Get Things Done” methodology, which emphasizes getting your to-dos out of your head in a systematized way that you can refer to later. This frees your mind of any distractions that might stop you from working efficiently. It also creates a foundation for step two. 

Separate your “shoulds” from your “musts”

As self-development author Brian Tracey says, “there’s never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the most important thing.” 

With your master list neatly laid out, you can step back and review it in terms of what you should do as opposed to things you must do. What’s the difference? 

Well, shoulds are habits, behaviors, and ideas that come from other people. These pesky shoulds permeate your brain, and they come from social conditioning, the people you follow on Linkedin, the ads you saw last week, etc. 

On the other hand, musts are the habits, behaviors, and ideas that originate from a sense of what’s important to you. These things are deeply personal, and they have to get done to achieve big goals and to become the best version of yourself. 

The problem is that people often confuse shoulds with musts. Without intentionality, we tend to get overwhelmed by the former and put the latter off. For example, scheduling downtime to do things that make you happy is a must, but the nearly endless stream of shoulds can detract from that. 

When you say “yes” to things on your schedule, make sure they aren’t at the expense of the bigger, more important, long-term items. In doing so, you can reprioritize your schedule to revolve around what matters and reduce the amount of time spent on trivial tasks. 

Clean up your physical environment

Starting a fresh schedule this spring would be incomplete without cleaning up your physical surroundings. Clutter builds up over time, and taking care of the spaces you inhabit on a daily basis can do wonders for your productivity.

Be sure to clean up your office desk this spring. Get rid of the unnecessary documents and trinkets you’ve collected over the last year. Tidy up your home so you aren’t constantly trying to squeeze chores into your schedule.

Decluttering reduces anxiety and gives you a feeling of self-efficacy that can translate to your daily tasks. Do not neglect your physical environment when you are revamping your schedule. 

Build supportive habits & structures

If you’re going to spend the time and energy to clean up your schedule and to refocus on your musts, you need a plan to support these changes.

There are a variety of ways you can approach this. Here are a few:

  • Develop a proactive morning routine
  • Tackle the most difficult things first 
  • Control how your availability is displayed
  • Spend time each evening planning the next day 
  • Practice the art of saying “no” 
  • Keep your workspace clutter-free 
  • Remember the sunk cost fallacy 

Doing these things matter because you are only as good as your habit systems. In his book “Atomic Habits,” James Clear puts it this way: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” 

Everyone thinks they know what’s important to them, but many still get swamped by the minutiae of life. The response is simple: Stop and list it all out. Prioritize ruthlessly, declutter, and then build habits to support your desired schedule.

Don’t Fall Into the Urgency Trap: How to Prioritize Your Work

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Planner on desk

I recently went hiking in a state park. Besides spending some time outdoors, which helped me clear my head and burn some calories, I saw a sign posted outside the interpretive center. It simply read, “Today is the best day.” I’ve since taken this to be my daily mantra.

I think we all have the intention to make today the best day. Whether if it’s taking the time to do the things you enjoy or just sending good vides back out to the rest of the world. And, it also means being productive at work as opposed to just busy.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. When you have so many responsibilities and such a short amount of time to complete them, everything seems essential. That’s why learning how to prioritize your work is a skill everyone needs to learn. It ensures that you spend the right energy and focus on the right activities at the appropriate time.

The problem is, you often fall into the urgency trap. Instead of tackling something that is helping you move closer to your goals, you end up wasting time on things that seem important. While these are tasks that need to be addressed, they don’t need to be done ASAP. Some of them may not deserve your attention at all.

With that said, if you want to be more productive, get the most out of your time, and prevent problems like missed deadlines, then you must perfect prioritization. And, here are some of the ways that you can accomplish that challenge.

Create a master list and analyze it.

The first step in prioritizing your work is to collect a list of all your tasks. It doesn’t matter if you jot these down in a notepad, Word Doc, or to-do-list app. The idea is to have everything that needs to get done in one location that can be easily accessed.

The second step is to review these tasks and whittle them down to the essential. That may seem like a lot of work upfront. But, this helps you rate your functions so that you spend time on what matters. Even better, it allows you also to eliminate certain tasks altogether.

Delete, Delegate, Defer, or Do?

Personally, I find that the 4Ds of time management to be most useful here. It’s a simple technique where you have four options to narrow down your list:

  • Delete. Sometimes this is referred to as “drop.” But the idea is the same. Any time commitments that are no longer necessary or aren’t crucial to the big picture should be scrapped. A perfect example of this is the lengthy and unproductive meetings you have in your schedule.
  • Delegate. These are the activities that need to be done. But, just not by you. Instead, they should be assigned to someone else. For instance, I’m familiar with the necessary coding. However, I’m not an expert. If my website or app crashed, it’s just worth the money hiring a pro who can fix the problem faster than I ever could.
  • Defer. These are essential tasks that can be delayed until another time. Let’s say that you an important meeting at the end of the month. You need to create and send an agenda. But, considering that the event three weeks away, that’s something you don’t need to do today.
  • Do. Here is where you, in the words of Nike, “just do it.” It could be a task that only takes two-minutes to wrap-up. Or, it’s one that needs your attention sooner than later, like anything with a due date.

Will this solve all of your prioritization issues? Not necessarily. But, it can remove at least some of your work off your plate. And, now that you have a much leaner list, you can begin to start successfully prioritizing your work.

Adopt a prioritization method.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all prioritization method. It depends on your own personal style. But, here are seven techniques that you could try out until you find the one that works best for you.

Eat the frog first.

InThe 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss wrote, “Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.” Often times, these are the most difficult tasks that you aren’t looking forward to. And, as a result, we procrastinate on them. The funny thing is that they also happen to be your most important.

Instead of putting these obligations on the back burner, take the advice of Mark Twain and eat the frog first thing in the morning. “And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Now that the worst is behind you, the rest of the day will seem easy in comparison.

Also, since we usually have the most energy several hours after waking uP, it just makes more sense. Why try to force yourself to do something you dread when you’re exhausted at the end of the day.

Focus on your MITs.

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to prioritize your work is to focus only on the most critical tasks that you would like to accomplish for the day. You can jot these down during your evening routine or first thing in the morning. Just note that your MITs should only be between one to three items.

“And here’s the key to the MITs for me: at least one of the MITs should be related to one of my goals,” suggests Leo Babuta. “While the other two can be work stuff (and usually are), one must be a goal next-action. Goal centered ensures that I am doing something to move my goals forward that day.”

And, just like eating that frog, it’s best to do your MITs in the morning. “If you put them off to later, you will get busy and run out of time to do them,” adds Babuta. “Get them out of the way, and the rest of the day is gravy!”

Separate the urgent from the important using the Eisenhower Matrix.

Inspired by former U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent,” this is where you place all of your tasks into a four-quadrant box. You then organize them by:

  • Urgent and important: These are the things that need to be done right now.
  • Important, but not urgent. Decide when it’s best to do these and schedule them.
  • Urgent, but not important. These can be handed off to someone else.
  • Neither urgent or important. Drop these from your to-do-list and calendar.

Prioritize daily tasks with the Ivy Lee Method.

Developed in 1918 by productivity consultant Ivy Lee, this is a simple trick to help you prioritize your daily work.

  • At the end of each day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  • Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  • When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  • Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. Move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  • Repeat this process every working day.

As I explained in a previous Entrepreneur article, “The Ivy Lee Method is so effective because by planning your day the night before, you reduce decision fatigue and reserve your energy for your most meaningful work.” What’s more, “you know exactly what you’ll be working on all day instead of wasting valuable time and energy making decisions in the morning.”

Assign a value to your work with the ABCDE Method.

If you need a hack for knowing the true importance of a task, I recommend Bryan Tracy’s ABCDE method.

“You start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day,” explains Tracy. “Think on paper. Once you have a list of all of the tasks you must complete, start the ABCDE method.”

  • “A” is assigned to your most important tasks.
  • “B” are items that need to be done but only have mild consequences.
  • “C” are tasks that would be nice to get to. But, if you don’t, there are no repercussions.
  • “D” is anything that can be delegated.
  • “E” is for eliminating.

For every letter, also assign a number to it so that you know where to start. For example, an A-1 task would be “your biggest, ugliest frog.” It just adds multiple layers of prioritization to your work.

Follow the Pareto Principle.

Also known as the 80/20 rule, this was developed by the Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto. As Choncé Maddox explains for Calendar, this rule “clearly states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.”

How does this help you prioritize your work? Well, according to toChoncé, “If you’ve found that 20% of your effort is resulting in 80% of your results, you’ll want to prioritize and improve that 20% margin.” Knowing that you should take “care of it first when you begin your workday.” Need a place to start? You could ask questions like, “Are there any tasks that would make you feel relieved by accomplishing them, no matter what else happened during the day?”

Also, don’t get hung up on the exact numbers here. The point is that you should spend most of your time on the handful of activities that deliver the most results.


Chunking is fairly straightforward. It’s where you block out specific times in your calendar for undisturbed work. Ideally, these would be your most important tasks for the day that have been scheduled around when you’re most productive. As an example, if your peak productive hours are from 9 AM to 11 AM, then that would box out that time for devouring your frog.

During this timeframe, this would be the only thing that you’re focused on. To aid you in this pursuit, you would turn off smartphone notifications and close your office to eliminate distractions. And, most importantly, don’t forget to take frequent breaks, like around every hour. It’s the best way to stay fresh throughout the day.

Final words of advice.

When you prioritize your work, you’ll be confident that each day will be the best one ever. But, even if you’ve learned to no longer fall into that urgency trap, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Be flexible. Fires will have to put out. Your priorities will change over time. And, no matter how organized you are, the unexpected will always rear its ugly head. Work on becoming more adaptable so that you can roll with the punches.
  • Break large tasks into smaller pieces. It can be overwhelming when jumping into larger tasks and projects. Breaking them down into more manageable sections can help you get started. It also lets you focus on what needs your attention right now.
  • Be realistic. In a perfect world, you would be able to knock out your entire to-do-list in one day. Realistically, you’ll probably only be able to get to a handful of them. Understand how much you can actually get done in one day and move the less critical items to another date.
  • Manage distractions and interruptions. No matter how hard you try, these are inevitable. Sure. Turning off your notifications is a start. But, what about addressing an unforeseen emergency? Add some blank spaces in your calendar so that you have time in your day to handle this.
  • Ask for help. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask others for help. Whether if that’s delegating some of your work or asking for feedback on what’s most important.

How to Motivate Yourself to Finish Big Tasks

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How to Motivate Yourself to Finish Big Tasks

Is your to-do list so long it’s running off the table and down the hall? Having a to-do list and a schedule for tasks can be helpful, so long as you’re doing the work.

Often, we let our to-do list pile up as we procrastinate on certain things. Usually, it’s the toughest, big tasks that get passed over as we take care of the smaller easier things first.

The problem is that when it comes to working, those significant and sometimes mentally challenging can have a considerable effect on your business and lead you to make substantial progress. While being your own boss means you have individual freedoms and flexibility, it also means that you have to buckle down and motivate yourself to finish big tasks.

This can seem overwhelming at first, so consider using these tips to help you get started.

Set a Deadline

Deadlines can be extremely useful when trying to motivate yourself to finish big tasks. If you thrive on deadlines, you’ll feel motivated to get your assignment or project completed by the assigned time. It’s no longer good enough to have tasks on your list.

You need to fill in your calendar with projects and responsibilities by assigning a deadline. Even if you don’t thrive on deadlines, setting one will put some pressure on you to get it done.

Also, be sure to prioritize the deadlines you give yourself as a commitment. Too often, we don’t value the commitments we make to ourselves. Promising to do something for your business is just as important as a commitment that you make to someone else.

View your deadline as firm and just get started even if you don’t have much motivation. It will come.

Break It Up

If a task or project seems too big or overwhelming, break it up so you can complete it over time. This is what I do with very time-consuming projects. For months, I had told myself I was going to work on a project, but I just never got around to it.

I realized I was unintentionally dodging the work because it knew it would be time-consuming and I didn’t think I had the time. After deciding to break the task up, I was able to get it completed in a single weekend.

Start by determining how long it will take you to do the task. Then, break it up into chunks and fill in your calendar. For example, if you think something will take you five hours, break it up into three-time chunks on three separate days and get it done.

Who knows, you may even be able to complete the task quicker than anticipated.

Choose a Reward

Adults can still thrive with a rewards system. You probably had one at your last job, and you may even have one in your business today. In one of my previous jobs, we could earn bonuses if we accomplished certain things.

To motivate yourself to finish big tasks, choose a reward that you’ll obtain once you finish. It always doesn’t have to be a monetary reward.

You can reward yourself by taking an afternoon or morning off. Or, you can treat yourself to a nice meal or catch up with an old friend. When I was setting weight-loss goals for myself, I decided to reward myself with a professional massage when I hit a particular milestone.

Rewards give us something to look forward to once we put in the effort and hard work.

Change Up Your Environment

Sometimes, switching up where and how you can be exciting and motivating. If you usually are working from a desk at home, head to a coffee shop for a few hours, or an outdoor patio.

Surround yourself with other people who are working hard and are motivated. Motivation will rub off on you. I started going to a coworking space, and even though I don’t know most of the people in the office yet, the change of scenery helps me eliminate distractions and stay motivated.

Plus, since I work from home most of the time, I feel I do get too comfortable with my work setting and procrastinate on specific tasks. Working outside of the house for even a few days can help you motivate yourself to finish a big job and move on to the next thing.

Just Get Started

This is one of the simplest ways to jumpstart your motivation. Sometimes, we let our thoughts and mindset psyche use out of working on a project. Maybe we think it’s too hard, too boring, or will take too long.

In reality, those are just thoughts, and you never know until you get started and try. Commit to starting a task and working on it for at least 20-30 minutes. Stay focused during this time and ignore all distractions.

When time is up, you’ll likely have more focus on the project and be willing to continue working on it. Even if you aren’t, you’ll have made progress during the 20-30 minute time streak.

The thing is, once you get started, it’s not too hard to keep going and finish up. You’ll often transition to a state of intense focus, and even if it’s not for long, you’ll get closer to finishing the big project nonetheless. Also, if getting started means doing 10-15 minutes of research and outlining, it’s better than nothing and will push you forward in the right direction.

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