My client and I were talking about a challenge that she has been having around growing her business.  She is an accountant and is often under tight deadlines.  On top of To-dosthe “deadline” work there is constantly other new work coming in.  She works hard to make sure that all of her clients’ work is done; however, the marketing, business growth and day-to-day admin work often fall through the cracks.  On top of that she was feeling unfocused and that she was just chasing after deadlines all day.

I like to categorize these activities as “IN” your business, “ON” your business and “ADMIN”.  Unless you continually move these three areas forward you will not have a sustainable business.

In an ideal world you’ll have plenty of support to help you, but the reality is that at the end of the day a lot of it simply falls to you to do.  So how do you do it?

Here’s a straightforward approach my client and I came up with. 

  1. At the end of each day review your “to-do” list and identify your top priority in each of these three areas (“in” your business, “on” your business, admin).
  2. Be sure that these three things are very specific and are single tasks (none should take a full day on its own).  If you’re thinking about a project, be sure to identify the part of the project you are doing.
  3. Create a list with ONLY these three things on it.
  4. Review your list at the beginning of each day and get to work focusing on these three things only.
  5. Review your list around lunchtime to make sure that you are still moving these three goals forward.
  6. At the end of the day reassess and plan out tomorrow.

After we created this plan I shared some bad news with her…it wasn’t only her “in”, “on” and “admin” activities that weren’t getting done.  She was neglecting herself too.  We agreed to add one more category to the list…”PERSONAL”.  What was one thing she wanted to do for herself each day?  Some ideas we came up with were spending time reading a book, playing with her dog, gardening, taking a long bath and enjoying a dinner with her husband.

She’s been doing this exercise for a week now and is finding herself much more focused.  She also said that she’s spending time “ON” her business and doing admin work each day.

Here are a few tricks she’s learned to make sure the system works:

  • Hang the list up so that it’s visible and refer to it often.
  • Don’t overload any one area.
  • There are times when one area seems to get short-changed.  As long as you move each area forward a little bit it’s okay. Just shift that balance back the next day.

What four things are on your list for today?  Share it and make it happen!