Updated: Nov 24, 2020
It's first thing in the morning and you've sat down to start working. But where to start? As an entrepreneur, you've got a never-ending list of tasks to accomplish and no boss to tell you which to do and when. It's on you! Let's discuss how to get started.
Kick Your Imposter (Syndrome) Out the Door
Clear task curation means trusting in yourself to make the right, informed decisions. There will be a significant amount of stress that comes with curating your upcoming schedule and it's best to face that right away, rather than crashing halfway through and feeling down.
I often turn to a brief moment of meditation before I start sorting my tasks. I sit down with a warm coffee in my hands, close my eyes and take a deep breath. I silence the voices whispering about why I don't have the right to be attempting what I am, that I don't have the experience, or that my goals are too ambitious. I even suppress my hopeful thoughts that I indeed can succeed. For all things, a time and a place and this is a moment for quiet.
To chill my imposter out, I need to chill myself out.
Starting from a clean slate makes it easier for me to push aside the negative thoughts and let the positive ones come to the forefront. Focus on those and move forward. As women, we are more likely to experience imposter syndrome, just take a look at this Forbes interview with Laura Newinski, the Deputy Chair and Chief Operating Officer of KPMG LLP, where she discusses it's prevalence among business women and how to overcome it.
If you're feeling this particular block, know you're not alone. Let me remind you:
You don't have to be perfect.
You have the strength to get up again.
You can trust in yourself and your choices.
You have value. Your voice matters. Your experience matters.
Set Tasks by Urgency & Importance
Starting the week by determining which tasks to tackle first is one of the necessary evils of self management. You have to organize tasks so that you aren't falling behind on your important business goals, but also so you can finish tasks that need your attention ASAP. Choose which tasks to start with by determining their urgency and importance. Let's just define those right away:
An Urgent Task needs to be done immediately.
An Important Task will affect your long term business goals.
While you do not need to go all out and make a 1-10 numbering system for urgency and importance and then cross-reference each card (I see you out there, Astrid), these are general guidelines. For urgency, the sooner the deadline is, the faster it needs to be done. The more potential impact a task could have on your business, the more important it is.
This way to organize tasks is a widely used system for marrying the overlay between urgency and importance known as the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which you can see below.
Want that image explained a little more? I got you.
The first tasks to plan are your tasks that are both urgent and important. The top of your to-do list. Not only do they affect your long term goals, but they also need to be done ASAP. Put those in your schedule first and build up from there.
Next to add to your schedule, or delegate if you have someone to assist you, are the less important but still urgent tasks. If you're on your own, then scheduled it for right after your urgent and important tasks.
Third to schedule, are the important, yet not urgent tasks. Your agenda is likely filling up at this point, so plan these tasks for a time when you have a bit more wiggle room in your calendar.
Lastly, if you find that you have tasks that are not important, nor urgent then you need to take a second look and consider letting it go. You have a limited amount of time where you can work on your business and there will frequently be tasks or projects you would like to do, but end up not aligning with your long term mission or goals. In this case, it's declutter time! Even if you've already put time into these tasks, you might be looking at a sunk cost. An easy way to visualize sunk costs is to imagine a sunk ship. You may have paid a lot of money to create that ship, but once it's at the bottom of the ocean, it's going to be a lot more time, labor, and money to try and bring it to the surface and fix the damage. Leave the ship where it is and build a new one.
For a more detailed approach to how the Eisenhower Matrix came to be and detailed explanations for each category, I recommend Laura Scroggs' article.
Try not to get too overwhelmed when you start the process. It will get messy, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.
A special gift to you, WOMADE's very own time management and to do list cards. These kinds of goodies will come your way in our weekly newsletter.
What about you?
Do you have any tips for the other people out there?
What are your biggest blocks when it comes to task management?