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Best Practices

Make a List

Use lists to make it through busy business seasons.



Robin Donovan

I RECENTLY INFORMALLY surveyed entrepreneurs in my network, requesting hair-on-fire survival strategies for busy business seasons. In truth, while strategic planning can prevent you from reaching this hectic point, most of us will be unreasonably busy now and again.

I expected a mix of inspirational quotes, app recommendations and maybe an exhortation to hire a business coach (been there, done that – and I recommend it). But I was surprised that one tip was made by 90% of respondents: Use lists.

That’s right, lists. So simple, so easy. Yet leader after leader told me that list-making saves them every day. Here’s the list-making lowdown I compiled:

  • Use an App. Trello is a common favorite, complete with checklists; or try Evernote. Even the iPhone Notes app can work.
  • Reprioritize. Restructure your list daily, and don’t hesitate to shift priorities during the day. Scratch items that carry over continually without getting done.
  • Chart it. Ready for a challenge? Sort your to-do list into groups based on urgency and importance. (Google “Eisenhower chart” for more.)
  • No Shiny Objects. Pick three top tasks and prioritize them. You must get these items done today. You’ll increase your odds of finding flow (a real phenomenon), and have an easier time saying no to important, but non-urgent tasks.

If you need help inserting tasks into your schedule, consider more judicious use of your out-of-office status. One bold businessperson told me she knows she’s susceptible to distraction, so she eliminates it by blocking time and designating herself out of the office when working on critical projects.

What are your top strategies? Share them with me at [email protected].

Note: This is an edited version of the original March 2020 From the Editor column, which was written pre-COVID-19 pandemic.




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