BY : mike michalowicz KEYNOTE SPEAKER & AUTHOR
A Simple Technique To Skyrocket Productivity
How long is your to-do list ? Is it a page or two or could you use it to wallpaper your office ? If you ’ re like most entrepreneurs , you have a long to-do list ( or several ) that , no matter how many hours you work , never seems doable . This is because most people maintain a task list ordered by date , and crank away on the most pressing items . This method makes sense , but it ’ s wrong . The best way to achieve productivity is not to prioritize by deadlines , but to prioritize by what matters most .
And , there are only two tasks that matter most to entrepreneurs : those that when completed , will either make money in the near future or will make customers happy .
People feel compelled to finish tasks just because they are on the to-do list , especially if a deadline looms . But what good is crossing off an item on your to-do list if it doesn ’ t make you money or thrill your customers ?
A consistent flow of cash is the lifeblood of your business , so if you can make money in the next 30 days by knocking off one of the items on your list , it is a priority . Ecstatic customers also bring in money – they are more likely to do keep doing business with you , and they are more likely to rave about you to potential customers , which is the most effective marketing method ( and you sure can ’ t buy it ) – so they are priority too . Everything else ? Not so much .
Here ’ s how to turn your to-do list into a productive , money-making machine :
1 . Maintain a paper task list . As much as you love your fancy productivity software , keeping your to-list on a computer can cause you to go off on a tangent or get caught up in color-coding or grouping tasks . More importantly , every program I ’ ve ever used focuses on due dates and percentages complete , which is totally wrong . So get out the good old yellow legal pad and start at the top .
2 . Create two columns : one labeled , “ TYPE ” and one labeled , “ TASK .” In the “ TASK ” column , write down everything you need to get done .
3 . In the “ TYPE ” column , write a dollar sign next to each task that , when completed , you are confident would bring in money in the next 30 days . Then , put a smiley face next to any items that , when finished , will make your customers happy . Now , you have a short list of the really important tasks , a list you can manage , a list that , when completed , will have an immediate , positive impact on your business .
4 . Start ticking off items with dollar signs and smiley faces . When you dive into a new task , highlight it . This way , if you get distracted by the phone , or email , or your 537 Facebook friends , you can instantly get back on track by going to the highlighted task . When you complete a task , cross it off your list and go on to the next dollar sign or smiley face .
5 . As you move through your day , new to-do items will come up . Write them down as soon as they come to mind so you can get back to your task at hand without worrying about remembering fleeting thoughts , or getting sidetracked contemplating how to complete that task . Then , at the end of your day , review your new to-do list items and , if applicable , add a dollar sign or smiley face .
This simple approach is the most effective productivity strategy I have ever followed . Sure enough , it consistently improves my business because I am bringing in money and making my customers so pleased they want to shout it from the rooftops . If cash is flowing and the customers are happy , who cares if I never get around to the other tasks ?
This year , resolve never to sacrifice what is important for the sake of what is urgent . +
Mike Michalowicz is the entrepreneur behind three multimillion dollar companies and is the author of Profit First . He is globally recognized as the guy who “ challenges outdated business beliefs ” and teaches us what to do about it . To learn more about Mike and get access to a treasure trove of entrepreneurial tips , visit MikeMichalowicz . com .