A Piece of Advice I’ll Never Forget

No Comments Yet | by Elise Perkins

I’m no stranger to asking lots of questions. I love hearing different perspectives and learning from my peers. I’ve mentored and been mentored and will continue to sing the praises of such a system (especially because it doesn’t have to be so difficult).

Every so often I’ll get a piece of advice that just STICKS. You know what I’m talking about? Advice that switches a light on in your brain, that resonates deeply, that implores you to change your habits.

Last year, Marie Forleo gave me (and her bazillion loyal followers) such advice.

Ready?

Divide your to-do list between important and urgent.

Seems simple, yes? If you’re a successful business owner, you likely understand the importance of being organized. If you’re like me, your personal and work lists seem to blend together.

There is always SO much to do, and never enough time in the day. This we know, and the reason why multitasking has consumed our lives, or we’re constantly looking for ways to outsource or complete projects faster.

Here’s one such example: a particular client might call or email you throughout the day to follow-up on a project or ask a question. I’m no stranger to this. At first, I thought I HAD to interrupt my current work to take their call, even though I was incredibly accountable to them throughout the workweek. This falls into the urgent category.

Now, I also have business-related work I need to get done – registering for my P.O. Box in-person, invoicing so I get paid on time, or attending a networking event. This is important, but it is not urgent. I am the only person dependable to make sure these items are completed, and it is easy to be distracted.

So – how do you marry these two principles together?

Make a list.

In fact, make two.

Does that sound neurotic?? It’s what I do, and how I get stuff DONE!

Here’s my approach:

  • I’ll keep a list each week of all of the things I need to accomplish – generally broken down into a few buckets which include business development, and one for each specific client, the last for personal items.
  • I make sure to try to be as specific as possible with the to-dos, especially if the finished product requires multiple steps (e.g. outline a blog post, NOTwrite blog)
  • Then, each day I transfer about five items onto a sticky note, which I attach to my computer. Those items are a mix of urgent and important, and if I complete the day by checking them all off, I feel a sense of accomplishment that I can only imagine marathon runners do (I kid….).

This isn’t rocket science, but it took that one piece of advice to transform how I approached my days in a successful manner, and to make sure that I wasn’t tripping over myself to complete the urgent tasks in lieu of other important ones.

There will always be things to do that someone else has determined as “urgent.” Make sure that you can balance them with YOUR important items. Balance is a key reason why so many of us become entrepreneurs – don’t forsake it!

This article originally appeared on Soul Paint Co.

About Elise Perkins

Elise Perkins founded ep communications in 2014 after seven years of working for trade associations and think tanks. Today she focuses on building brands for businesses and people, using a savvy mix of content and influencer strategies. She sits on the board of Washington Women in Public Relations.

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