Task Oriented: Following a Simple To-do List Helps Get More Accomplished

March 14, 2016|

To-do listBy Eddie Kennedy, Owner, Great Deals on Furniture

2016 is underway, you’ve got your goals set and you are working your plan to reach that goal. Right? Isn’t this the same way you started last year?

My question is, “How are you going to actually accomplish your goals this year? What are you going to do different that will assist you in attaining your 2016 goals?”

One of the most challenging parts of being a small business owner or an entrepreneur is how to balance the amount of time you spend on the big picture versus the time that you spend on the details of what is the most important thing to do now. You probably know what needs to be done next, but you just can’t seem to find the time to get them done.

Jon Acuff, author of Do Over and an active video blogger, recommends using the Start, Stop & Continue method for achieving your goals in 2016. He suggests making a list of the things you want to Start, the things you want to Stop and the things you want to Continue doing in 2016.

Start: the new projects you want to accomplish, things that will be beneficial to your business.

Stop: the things that are non-productive, time wasters or bad habits.

Continue: the things that are working, producing profits or good business practices.

Once you have your Start, Stop & Continue list complete, look it over to see what you can do first. Is there anything you can delegate to others? Is there anything that will require additional training or equipment to accomplish? Prioritize everything on your lists by importance and what is critical to accomplish first.

Now you have a list of items that will help you be more effective in reaching your goal. The next big step is to find the time to accomplish the list. Every business owner struggles with finding the time to complete their list. But there is a solution: the Ivy Lee Method.

Here’s the story behind the Ivy Lee Method. In 1918, Charles Schwab, owner of Bethlehem Steel, desired to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of his time. He scheduled a meeting with a productivity consultant named Ivy Lee.

Lee gave Schwab a simple method that would help him achieve peak productivity. After working the method for 90 days, Schwab told Lee that the idea was the most profitable thing he had ever learned in his life and paid Lee $25,000 for the consultation.

If it worked for Charles Schwab in 1918 and he thought this method was worth $25,000 then, which would be more than $400,000 today, it would probably work for you.

The Ivy Lee Method

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

This process is simple, yet it forces you to make tough decisions, determining the most vital things for you to do. Because you already have the list made when you begin your day, it’s easier to get started. It also focuses your time and energy on what you decided was the most important task to complete.

Will you be interrupted? Certainly. But having your day laid out before you begin allows you to get right back into the flow as soon as the crisis is averted.

Try this for 90 days and see if you agree with Charles Schwab. It’s possibly the best single profitable thing you’ve ever done.

Have you had success on your list for 2016? Let me know – email me, eddie@greatdealsaugusta.com.

Eddie Kennedy is the owner of Great Deals on Furniture in Augusta.  Eddie will be sharing ideas and principles he learned in over 37 years of involvement and management in small business. Contact him at eddie@greatdealsaugusta.com

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