Tag Archive: master task list

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to managing their time is not having a system in place to support their productivity.  Effective time management incorporates a set of tools, and habits that when utilized properly allow you to get optimal value out of your time. The initial tool is the paper or digital tool that fits your personality. The additional elements include:

  • A master task list that includes everything you have to do and a daily to-do list
  • Supportive habits because your habits will make or break you
  • Knowing what your priorities are
  • Scheduling and planning your week and being realistic about it! Your calendar or daily agenda should look like a well organized closet. A well organized closet has spaces for shoes, hats, scarves, sweaters and the like, so that things are orderly. You want to maintain that same order with your calendar so before you add something look to see if you have room for it and exactly where it can go.
  • Delegating. We all have things that we can pass along to someone else to do and it helps tremendously when we take advantage of that opportunity. It not only leaves time for you to work on something else, but increases your productivity.
  • Saying “no.” Take time to think about things before making a decision. Do you actually have the time? Does it align with your goals and values? Think about that well organized closet as a reminder and keep in mind that just because something needs to be done, doesn’t mean that you have to do it.
  • An organized workspace. A person who works with a cluttered desk spends about 1½-2 hours each day looking for things. That’s 7½-10 hours of your time spent each week that could be dedicated to something productive. Do the math and not only does the time start to add up quickly, but the monetary costs do too.

You might not think of some of these as part of a system, but they truly are.  Without all the pieces in place, you have gaps and your productivity suffers becasue you have nothing to support you.  Get each of these pieces in place, and incorporate them along with the use of a tool that’s the perfect fit for your time management personality.


As a solopreneur or entrepreneur you’re beyond busy, so it’s important that your business learn like a well-oiled machine.  The way to have it running like that is to create systems with processes to help streamline things and to support you.

Within most businesses you’ll find filing, accounting, marketing and  client management systems.  Each of those systems has processes within it that are performed on a regular basis to keep things running.  In addition to the systems that I mentioned, you’ll need others that will support you running your business including a time management system.

Look at the systems that you currently have in place and ask determine what’s working and what’s not working.  Of the things that aren’t working, review the system processes and change them accordingly so that you end up with something that works for you.  You want processes in place that get the job done without extra energy or effort or disruption.  There may be systems that you have to add as well.  Look at the things that you do all the time and create systems around them.  If you don’t have anything in place at all, it’s time to get cracking.  Start with the basic systems that I mentioned above and add other systems that you need.

To give you a couple of practical examples, your filing system should consist of action, reference and archive files.  Action files are files that you use on a regular basis, such as vendor and client files.  Reference files contain information that you use occasionally for information and archives consists of last years’ files and go back as far as necessary.  I would recommend checking with your accountant to see how long you have to keep financial files.  Usually archives are kept in a different location than your other files, but they don’t have to be.

Another example is your time management system.  That system starts with the right time management tool and includes your master task list, daily to-do list and supportive habits like planning, prioritizing, goal setting and even saying “no”.  If technology is a fit for your time management personality, there are other tools that you might incorporate to support you.

As a regular practice, review your systems to see if they’re still supporting you as much as they should.  When things change in your business, it may call for changes to be made to the systems you have in place.

Having effective systems for all areas of your business results in less wasted time and money, fewer mistakes, mishaps and avoids negatively impacting your bottom line.

In my next post I’ll reveal Key #3.

When it comes to the many things that you have to do, your to-do list can get pretty crowded, making it difficult to get to the things that really matter. If you’re not organized and don’t have a time management system in place it can be even more difficult.

In the fast paced society that we’re operating in today it’s easy to forget about the things that we really want to do.  When it comes to time management, you not only need a system, but have to have processes within that system to keep things running smoothly.  Your to-do list is your map for the day so it has to give you good direction and be clear about what you’re doing for the day, so clutter is out.

Your to-do list can be just as cluttered as any space in your office or your home.  Look at your to-do list.  Do you see an excessive amount of tasks?  If so, how did they get there?  Did you just compile the list or did they come from your master task list which is related to the goals you want to accomplish?  If you’re just compiling a list from your head, chances are that the tasks you’re listing aren’t related to what’s important to you.

With this in mind, go through your to-do list and determine which items are directly related to the goals you want to accomplish or to your values.  Remove the things that aren’t related.  Next, look to see what items can be delegated and who you can pass them along to, get them onto a separate list and take the necessary steps to pass them along.

After you take these steps, look at what’s left and prioritize those tasks.  This process will help you declutter your to-do list and get you going.  The key to keeping your to-do list clutter free is to start from the ground up.  Create goals that are in line with your values and compose your master task list from the goals you create and prioritize the things on it.  The items that hit your to-do list are the smaller, bite sized pieces that help you accomplish the major things on your master task list. As they filter down, they already have a priority so you know exactly what your priorities are for any given day without having to stop and think about it.  Take the time to step back and create from the ground up and you’ll save yourself time and headache in the long run.

There are a few other things that you need to start a solid foundation to run your business.  You can’t successfully run a business if you don’t have a good accounting system in place.  For accurate and easily accessible records and having everything in one place, choose one of the user friendly accounting software packages on the market.  If you don’t know how to set it up, make the investment to have someone to set it up for you.  Set up files for your receipts, client invoices, bills, etc and a process for entering things into your software so that everything gets recorded.  Use the benefits that the software has to offer to the fullest extent.

To keep track of your prospective and existing clients, use a contact management system that will allow you to not only enter an individual’s contact information, but one that will allow you to make note of where you met them and what product or service they might be interested in.  You also want to be able to track the times that you’ve spoken with them or attempted to contact them and have a way to set reminders for future follow up.

Finally, you have to manage yourself in a way that has you on top of everything and getting things done, so, yes, you need a system for that too.  If you don’t currently have a time management tool that is working well for you, it might be time to assess why it’s not working for you and determine what tool would be more appropriate for your time management personality.  Once you have the appropriate tool, set it up, learn how to use every feature it affords you and use it to its fullest capacity.  Additionally, set up other components as a part of your time management system.  For example, you want to incorporate the use of a master task list and a daily task list along with the good time management habits of planning and prioritizing to shore you up.

When you put these things into place and use them regularly, you can be rid of the aforementioned scenarios and have control of every aspect of your business.  Even when you’re wearing multiple hats, with these things in place you will be large and in charge, calling all the shots; able to handle your business.

Time is our most precious resource and once we’ve spent it, it’s gone, so we have to manage well.  when you stop to think about it, we really can’t manage time, but we can mange ourselves.  To do so, you’ve got to have a tool to help you manage your time, one that fits what I call your time management personality.  If you don’t have a tool that fits that you’re using to the fullest extent, you are more likely to be frustrated with your time than productive.

In addition to the right tool, you’ve got to have a system for managing yourself when it comes to your time.  Your tool is part of the system, coupled with your master task list, daily to-do list, planning,  prioritizing and knowing how to say “no”.  All of these things and good habits have to come together into a solid foundation to support you in managing yourself around your time and being able to get it all done.

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