Busy work doesn’t pay the bills is something I tell myself when I am staring at a to-do list of things that suck up time but doesn’t grow my business. The hardest part of running a business or even working at one is eliminating the distracting work and focusing on productive work.
Eliminate busy work. Focus on productive work.
Take your to do list, have your employees do the same, and organize it into ABC lists. A-List is your Absolutely Must Do to move towards your goals. B-List is your Better Do to keep your business operating. C-List is your Could Do it later.
A-List – Absolutely Must Do
Review your A-List and make sure every task belongs on it. Sometimes we like to trick ourselves into thinking something is absolutely necessary but is it really? Really? An example of this is checking email constantly. The world will not stop if you don’t check your email and respond immediately. I promise. Try it.
B-List – Better Do
The B-list is the stuff that has to get done to keep the business running. Think check email, pay the bills, order supplies, stock the shelves. As an entrepreneur that is starting out, you may need to do everything on this list. But this is also the list that should be delegated as soon as you have staff to do it or it will suck up all of your time for your A-List. To make sure you have time for your A-List, set a time block for this work. Pick a day or a time of day to work on the B-List. But when that time is up, be disciplined and shift gears to your A-List. For example, check and respond to email at 8:00-9:00 a.m. and 3:00-4:00 p.m. each day and use the rest of the day to be productive.
C-List – Could Do
The C-List is stuff you could do but really don’t need to do. Put this list in a drawer and don’t look at it until everything on your A & B list is done. If you have time, and only then, look at this list. An example of what should be on this list is organizing your files, reading an industry article, meetings that you don’t add value or get value from. These are the biggest distractions that that tend to eat up your most valuable resources – your time, your focus and your energy. Don’t get lost in the activity. It’s easy to be busy. It’s hard to be focused. Go back to your strategic plan and pick the 3-5 things you need to spend 60-80% of your time moving closer to your goal.