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Wanna Be Successful? Make a Do-Not-Do List

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” — Steve Jobs

As women entrepreneurs, we often take on more than we can handle. Often the “to-do” lists from projects, family schedules, home, business, clients, staff, etc., can bury us. However, when I finally learned to make a Do-Not-Do list, I freed up my time and energy to focus on my most important priorities. Now anything that comes between me and my priorities goes on my Do-Not-Do List.

Don’t Do the Same Old Thing.

Stop doing the same old thing if it isn’t working. Almost every small business owner says that they need to figure out how to accomplish more in a day, but then we keep on doing the same things every day. Last year I learned that the only way things would change is if I made some changes. I wrote a blog about Finding Balance in a 24/7 World and learned that multitasking is not a road to success. Instead, we need to have focus on one priority at a time.

Don’t Check Email Every Time It Comes In.

Decide you will check your email after 45 minutes of concentrated work on your priorities, or at certain times during the day. Block off a time to do focused work and let team members know so you can minimize interruptions. Don’t let email dictate your day. Set an agenda for your day and stay focused on what you need to accomplish.

Don’t Stress.

Sometimes we create stress for ourselves by being disorganized. Most small business owners don’t want to take the time to get organized because there is always so much to do. But trust me, stress is a lot like worry, it doesn’t get us anywhere. Life is stressful enough without us creating more. One thing that has helped our whole family is having a shared electronic Burke Family calendar. My teenage daughters have iPhones as well as my husband and myself. Every family event is entered in the joint calendar so everyone has the same info with them at all times. It’s a simple step, and a lot less stress. You can try using Google calendar for this if you have older kids.

Don’t Avoid.

We all have tasks or projects that we avoid because they seem overwhelming or we dread doing them. Most often it is because they require more time than we have. Sound familiar? I have found that avoiding something actually takes more mental and spiritual energy. Instead of avoiding, do your most important task first. When you dive into something big and make a dent, it will give you a sense of accomplishment and momentum you can use to get more done the rest of the day. If you have a big project you have been avoiding because you don’t know where to begin, break it down into smaller tasks that you can tackle piece by piece. Seeing smaller, doable goals is much easier to tackle than one massive project that overwhelms you.

Don’t be Busy.

There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. Just because you are crossing a lot of little things off your to-do list doesn’t mean you are making any progress on your big priorities. I once worked with someone who would say, “I have so much to do that it took me all day to make my do-to list.” Then the next day he would say the same. It seemed to be that he was just spinning his wheels. We all do that sometimes. Think about your priorities, if something (or someone) is not in sync with your priorities, they must go. Don’t be busy, just to be busy.

There are always a lot of distractions in life. The only way to be successful is to make sure you aren’t tackling little things as a way of avoiding diving into priorities that could move your business, family and life forward. Make your Do-Not-Do List and see how things change for you.

© 2012 Fauzia Burke. All Rights Reserved.

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