Master Your To Do List and Improve Your Client Relations At the Same Time
Want to get more done than ever before. How do you do it? First you need to master your to do list. Now we all know we need to keep a to do list and many do keep one regularly. However, it’s important to do even more with it. Don’t just write one and hope to see results each day, totally work your list and be creative with all you can do.
Here are some tips to master your to do list:
List your to do’s and color code them. It’s amazing when you look down on the page and can see what needs done pronto. For example, use red for priority work. And when you use this technique, don’t abuse it. Truly only the urgent, must get done that day tasks get coded red. It takes away the priority if you abuse it. Try your favorite color for business development tasks for your business. It makes you truly want to do them. You will be amazed how color coding can add even more to the energy of the day. And it’s a perfect time of year to start doing this. You can go invest in back-to-school supplies and they often have these fun pens on sale.
Divide your to dos by clients and prioritize that work. That way instead of having a listing of 25 things you have to do on the page, it is broken down into management segments. You list the client and then the five or six things necessary to do’s for them that day (or however many). It’s a mental thing, but by not seeing 25 things but instead seeing just a few for each client it truly feels better.
This one change I implemented has made a huge difference in my business. I work on a retainer basis for many clients and once the work is divided by clients, I can prioritize a little more by their retainer status. Now don’t get me wrong, I do try and get all the work done and I definitely prioritize by what needs done that day, but my 30 hour a month clients do take priority over my hourly clients. This helps me to see that I am doing just that.
But there’s more. (Wait there’s more, awesome!) It can show if clients are demanding too much of your time for the plan you have them on. Often times you can clearly see for the work that needs done that certain clients might need to up their retainer status. You can clearly see on your to do list what all you have done for them and you can then communicate that to them. (BTW, I save all my to do lists. It helps me at monthly billing time to review).
And finally, by dividing your to do list by clients, it might also show that a 5 hour a month client might be sending you too many daily tasks that keep you from getting more 30 hour a month clients. YIKES! Plus, you can clearly see if there are too many non-billables that should be billed. (And you thought this was only on creating a to do list. Can you see now how this can be help you get more control over your clients? It can!)
Divide a Section of the To Do List off and add in Your Time: I have an 8 ½ x 11 sheet that is a to do list. On the right hand side of the page, each day I mark off sections for my time. Then as I go through my day, I mark down what I’m doing, even if it’s not billable. Now I don’t spend a great deal of time doing this, in fact it’s just a few seconds more than crossing off the to do’s, but you would be amazed how eye-opening it is to see gaps of time in there. At the end of the day I can reflect back on the day. What this shows me is that often times I will have 40 minutes where I can’t account for anything. I know I worked, but what did I do? When you do this daily, you get to where you can pinpoint those problem areas and make changes. We all know you can’t have a fully billable day, but in the times that aren’t billable, are you being productive or are you catching a little of A&E and the Glades. (Caught you!)
Can you see how these simple tips can make a huge difference in your business success? One other thing that I’m really focusing on to get more done is to not multi-task as much. I used to start several projects at once and then work on them simultaneously. It worked. But I found that if I take one to do and finish it through to the end, I not only get to cross it off, but I get to clean my desk, put everything away, and go right into the next one totally focused on that project.
Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com and co-author of So You Want To Be a Work-At-Home Mom: A Christian’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business with Jill Hart and also VA the Series: Become a Highly Successful Sought After Virtual Assistant (Kelly Poelker). Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.