Have you ever gone through your list of things to do and looked for the easiest thing to knock out first? Have you ever been moody when you’ve looked through your tasks and said to yourself, “I don’t feel like doing that one, that one, or that one?” Do you have some items on your to do list that have been there for a while (like months)?
If so, you’re not alone. However, you may be working on all the wrong things. One of the top time management secrets that smart business owners implement is to prioritize their tasks in a very special way: by the highest payback, and not the biggest sense of urgency.
The hard truth is we may not be able to get to every single thing we want to do, especially those of us who are creative business owners who have an idea every minute! You may have a lot of them captured on your to do list, and some may still be swimming around in your head.
One of the ways that you can choose your opportunities and slim down that ever-growing to do list is to understand the concept of return on investment. For each task, how much money could it bring you if you did it? Some of the items that are not urgent but incredibly profitable are often the items we’re too exhausted to do once we complete all the required client and compliance work we need to do.
The successful business owner will make time for those profitable but not urgent activities. In fact, they will do them first thing in the morning before checking their email or returning calls.
Here’s an exercise to try on your own to-do list. Assign a dollar value to each task on your list in terms of revenue potential or cost savings. If you got to that task, how much could it save you or make you?
Then the fun starts. Sort your to-do list by this new dollar value column you just added. Sort the highest payback tasks to the top and the lowest payback tasks on bottom.
What’s jumping out at you on the top of your list that you’re not getting to? Can you find a time on your calendar to do it this week?
When we step back, become more proactive about insisting that we get a return on our time for what we’re doing, we can make a really huge difference in our bottom line. It’s as simple as assigning some values to the tasks on our to-do list, and then re-sorting them by that value.
However you identify them, the goal is to bring to our attention the highest potential revenue opportunities so we can act on them. Even if you only get to one more per week than you are currently doing, you’ve made wonderful progress.
It may take some discipline to resist tackling the urgent tasks. When we accomplish our urgent tasks, we feel needed. We love rushing to the rescue of clients that need us. When we attempt our high-dollar tasks, it may be a little uncomfortable, even scary. So that’s why we avoid them.
Prioritizing is something we all have to do, since we live in a world that competes for our limited time. Prioritizing by highest dollar return on investment is something the most successful business owners do, even if it feels a little uncomfortable in the process.
When we do the serious work of choosing what is really going to move our business forward, we will see the changes in our revenue. If we can help you with any of your high-payback tasks, let us know.