Women In Business

Why a simple list could save your day

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As a businesswoman, it’s easy to lose track of things as you get busier and more successful —  and with that will come more pressure.

That’s why prioritizing is crucial, and having a simple to-do list can be one of the best tools you have in your professional arsenal.

It’ll give you the chance to prioritize your tasks and projects, and separate the truly important ones from the ones that you shouldn’t over prioritize.

When it comes to prioritizing, to-do lists are your best friends. A simple list too. They give you the chance to come back to them whenever you may forget something, and one of the most rewarding feelings is seeing the tasks you’ve crossed off begin to slowly takeover the amount of tasks you still have yet to finish.

But even when making a to-do list there are some steps you should follow, including assessing the importance of each task and making a plan for each task ahead.

Create a draft of your to-do list

While you may think you’ve got a good outline of all the tasks you have ahead of you planned in your mind, creating a hand-written draft of your to-do list will make you realize that there is always something you’re forgetting.

Things slip our minds easily, that’s why it’s important to write each task down as they’ll prompt you to think ahead and it’s also much easier to refer to a hard copy of a to-do list for your day and your week.

Assess the importance of each task

While every task you have regarding your career is important, there are of course some more important than others.

A key part of being a successful businesswoman is being able to recognize the importance of each task you have, and knowing that some are simply a priority over others and need to be attended to first.

Assess the urgency of each task

While some tasks may be of more importance than others, there may be some that have a deadline and thus more urgency to them.

At this point you need to realize that any task with a deadline deserves priority over those that don’t have one. However, you still have to weigh up urgency against importance.

Categorize them

Categorizing your to-do list may come to be a lot more helpful then you’ll first expect.

Doing so will help you realize that some of your tasks may not be all that different, and can actually be done together.

It’ll also help you to separate the truly urgent and more difficult tasks from the others, and as a result will show you which should be tackled first.

Reassess the list and make a final copy

Once you’ve made a draft of your list, review it.

Consider each task carefully and determine which can be done throughout the week and aren’t urgent, and which will need more time and are of more importance.

Once you narrow your list down you will find yourself to be a lot less stressed, realizing some of the tasks were not as important as you may have thought.

Keep copies of the list in noticeable places

Don’t ever assume that having one copy of your to-do list on hand is enough; in fact you should begin keeping several copies of your list in noticeable places.

Keep one in your diary and in your phone, on your desk at work, even on your fridge and anywhere else you look at regularly.

This will help you keep your priorities in mind, and help you with both daily and long-term planning.

Make a plan for each day

After assessing the importance and urgency of items on your list, mark which ones you are targeting to either complete or get to the next stage that day.

Don’t multi-task, focus on one task

Don’t try to complete two tasks at one because this can and will backfire.

If you do this you run the risk of making a mistake on one of both of the tasks, and will only make you look like you can’t do your job properly.

Instead, where possible focus on the one task and only move on to the next once you’re done or have completed a stage on the previous one.

Delegate

If you’re in a position of authority, it’s also a good idea to delegate your to-do list.

Assign some of your tasks to those you believe are able to complete them, and leave yourself the tasks you consider to be the most important.

This will help relieve you of some of the stress that comes with having a large to-do list, but will still give you enough control that you know each task will be done correctly.

The extra benefits are that you can use your tasks to help stretch and grow the skills of your team, and delegating shows them you have confidence in them.

Compromise

Something else you will need to consider when completing a to-do list is that not all of your tasks may be completed the way you want them to, whether it is because of other priorities or because you have delegated and need to allow your team to approach things with their own initiative.

Sometime you will need to compromise with your business partners or clients in order to reach a happy medium.

Start the process all over again

As triumphant as it feels to cross that final task off your to-do list, a true businesswoman knows her work is never done.

Once you’ve crossed every task off, start a new to-do list, because it’s certain that 10 more tasks have already surfaced in the time it’s taken to complete the last tasks you’ve set yourself.

So the next time you’re worried about not having everything in order, take a deep breath and take a few minutes to sit down and follow the steps above, and see how big of a difference they actually make.

About Natalie Cupac

Natalie Cupac Journalist & Features Writer for The Business Woman, Natalie Cupac is studying a double degree of Journalism and International Studies and has previously worked for Pacific Magazines

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