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AbigailPeople, who are building their business through networking, can be some of the most successful professionals, and also some of the most active.  Because of this, I asked Abigial to contribute the following article so we can all gain some benefit. Enjoy.  Thanks, Abigail!When someone else is managing a project or outcome they will remind you of what is due and when. When it’s your own business, especially if you are a sole proprietor or only have a few employees, it is often extremely difficult to stay focused on the priorities or to feel like you are making progress toward your goals. Tyranny of the UrgentIf you’ve read the Steven R. Covey book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, you already understand the difference between important and urgent tasks. If you haven’t read this book, it’s worth making the time to at least understand the four quadrants and where you are spending most of your time. Taking ActionIn addition to understanding the difference between urgent and important, it’s crucial that you understand the difference between an action and a project. What we think is one action might actually be a series of actions required for a result. My own experience and my clients have taught me that business owners often label a result as an action. “Update your website” is a result I often see on my client’s list. It’s usually been on their “To Do” list for months, because they haven’t taken the time to break it down into bite-sized actions. Without breaking it down, they cannot figure out what action is needed, so none is taken. ExampleLet’s talk about the steps involved to get to the desired outcome of an updated website. This list is neither comprehensive, nor in priority order. It’s merely an example to clarify the difference between the desired result and the many actions it takes to achieve that result:

  • Establish a budget for updating website
  • Get recommendations for a web designer
  • Hire a web designer
  • Establish priorities for the site update
  • Call photographer for new photo
  • Schedule haircut prior to photo
  • Select photo
  • Hire a writer to update content
  • Hire marketing expert to consult on new brand/content/logo
  • Book meetings with designer to review updates
  • Proof updates
  • Schedule soft launch of new site
  • Marketing blitz for major launch of new site

The important point is that most of these steps are easy to do. If necessary, assign them to your assistant for completion. Prioritize DailyWhen there is a fabulous vacation coming up, or a crisis, most of us easily prioritize what must be done and what can sit or be delegated. Developing that skill on a daily basis dramatically increases results and reduces stress. Many years ago I discovered that I need to write things down. All that writing meant I spent years with a “To Do” list with 20 to 40 things on it, every day. The pressure of undone tasks was exhausting. Recently, I learned a new discipline – prioritize three daily. I still keep a list in my notebook of all the things that need to be done for my businesses, my health, my home, and my family. The night before, I review the list, and select the three next actions that will have the biggest impact. I write those down and make them a priority for the next day. I might get them all done by noon; sometimes it will take the entire day to get them done. At the end of the day, I know I am moving forward on my highest goals. Occasionally, when I’ve been able to complete the three priorities for the day early, I will take on the next two or three highest priorities in the same day. Some days, once I’ve accomplished the highest priorities, I give myself permission to take the rest of the day “off.” © 2009 Straight Edge News          All Rights Reserved.Contributed by: Abigail DoughertyStraight Edge Solutions 503-297-5798Abigail@StraightEdgeSolutions.com