Ever have a day like this? It’s 4pm and you suddenly realize you’ve piddled away the day and haven’t accomplished anything of real value to help your business grow. Yep, it happens. And its not a good feeling, especially if you’re a small business owner with limited resources and an endless to-do list. These are the days that lead to long hours and that slippery slope to burnout town.

So, how do you get an awesome sense of accomplishment and still have work/life balance? Today I’m going to share with you my checklist for staying focused and getting stuff done that matters.

checkbox  Get Motivated

If everything on your to-do list makes you giddy, good for you. I’m happy for you. But its not like that for most of us. Even though I love what I do, there are tasks or times when (oh, hello Monday) I could use a little inspiration. When that happens, I’ll crank up one of my favorite songs, watch a funny video, listen to an inspiring talk, or simply reflect on the purpose of my work and mission to help others. Find what gets you in a productive mindset and use it to get a head start on your day.

checkbox  Pick One Thing

We all have 24 hours in a day, but its how we choose to spend it that separates us. Have you read The One Thing? If not, go check it out. In this book, Keller teaches us we can accomplish more by focusing on the ONE thing that matters most. We figure this out by asking “What can I accomplish that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?” That’s not to say we shouldn’t work on anything else, but make that one thing our focus and priority. Being productive isn’t about doing as much as you can. It’s about doing the right things that provide the most value. For me, that often means putting a system in place or documenting a standard operating procedure knowing that it will either make it easier for me to do it next time, or make it unnecessary if something or someone else can take care of it. This habit really comes in handy when you want to grow and scale your business.

[quote]Being productive isn’t about doing as much as you can. It’s about doing the right things that provide the most value.[/quote]

checkbox  Eliminate Waste

We know time is our scarcest resource. If time is money, how do we know if we’re spending it wisely? With so much to do, how can we ensure we’re investing our time in the right things? To help with this, I ask myself these questions whenever I work on recurring tasks.

  1. Eliminate. Is the end result of this task worth the the time and energy I’m investing? If not, why do it?
  2. Automate. Is there a tool or system can I put in place to do this for me or help me get it done faster?
  3. Delegate. Is there someone who could do it faster or better so I can focus on what I do best?

One of the smartest things a small business owner can do is to focus on the things that deliver the most value (80/20 rule) and eliminate, automate, or delegate the rest.

checkbox  Work in Time Blocks

pomodoroThis is one of my favorite productivity hacks and used by entrepreneurial super stars like Dan Martell and Tim Ferriss. Here’s how it works. Block out a big chunk of time in your calendar each day to work on something that will get you closer to your goal. Sounds simple, right? The trick is to respect the time you’ve blocked. As a person that suffers from SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome), I can get easily distracted so I use tools (like Pomodoro Time) to stay on task and develop good habits. No one says you have to be perfect 100% of the time, so if you fall off that horse (or, in my case, tomato) just hop back on and keep going. It’s how we become proactive and less reactive to all that little stuff that gets thrown our way. It’s how we can have a stress-free, happier day.

Was this helpful? Let me know. And if you have any tips on what’s worked for you, please share in the comments!