A Short Guide to Prioritizing for Small Business Owners

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As a small business owner, one of the skills essential to your success is learning to gauge when a task needs to be done on a right away basis and when it can wait. The art of prioritizing can seem incredibly simple out of the moment, but in the middle of a hectic week when you are scrambling to get something done and an employee comes up to you with another supposed emergency, knowing what to focus your attention on and what to put on the back burner for the next few hours can make a lot of difference, especially when valuable relationships are on the line. Determining what is the most important thing to do takes practice as well as a certain level of insight.

It is often better to get something that you are already in the process of doing completed than go from task to task. Your employees may interrupt you while you are in the middle of something, but unless it truly is urgent or the task needs to get done in a much shorter amount of time that what you are currently working on, you may want to finish what you are doing already before moving on. This is a good policy to have because it allows you to definitively finish whatever it is that you are working on before moving on to take care of other things. That being said, picking up the first thing on your desk and hammering away at it until it’s finished is a mistake if there are more important things going on around you. That’s why you need to define the core tasks you need to get done each day preferably before you go to bed or when you wake up in the morning.

Keep your schedule as simple as possible. When business owners try to cram too many tasks into too small an amount of time, that’s when things get left incomplete and forgotten about. In  order to avoid this, be realistic about what you can accomplish in each hour of the day. If something needs to get done but you cannot handle it yourself, you should try to delegate the task to the most qualified employee for the job. If you truly feel that you are the only person qualified to do whatever it is, then delegate something less important out to allow you to handle it yourself. Additionally, you might want to consider hiring some help around the house if domestic chores are taking up a large amount of your time.

Get over the mental block associated with unpleasant tasks. Some things you will be excited to get started working on, while others you would give anything to be able to skip. Unfortunately, it’s often the most important tasks that fall into the latter category. Try your best to get over the mental block by focusing not on how unpleasant what you must get done is, but on how good will feel to be able to cross it off your to do list once and for all. You may even wish to schedule a reward for yourself for after you have finished whatever it is that you were dreading in order to give yourself some extra motivation.

Photo Credit to Courtney Dirks on Flickr

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