Organize Your Business

JEEP Dispatcher assembly line

Most small businesses don’t work like an assembly line, at least not at first. Depending on the owner, it might never be a goal of your business to work that way (it’s certainly not my goal). But we do tend to want to have a way to focus on our business, and we do care about which tasks matter most. Here’s how I set about doing my business on any given day. Not the ideal that people would have you follow, but this is the real way I work on my business.

A Simple Framework

  1. Long term goals.
  2. Important projects.
  3. Urgent tasks.
  4. Maintenance tasks.

Promotion/Lead Generation First

In any given day, I make sure to do something that helps grow the business. That might be sending out an email newsletter. It’s definitely a blog post here on []. It might be doing an interview for someone else. It definitely includes using Twitter and Facebook to further grow awareness and attention.

The reason lead generation and promotion come first is that it’s a way to ensure that my business is seen, even while I’m working on all the more important stuff that’s invisible. Answering customer service requests are very important, but I do that shortly after I launch whatever attention/awareness effort I can muster for a day.

Team Project Work Second

Next, if there are projects that require more than me, I make sure I contribute my parts and let those projects run in parallel to other things I’m doing. Because that way, I really can extend myself. If Rob and Liz and John and Josh and Anne all know what they’re doing on projects that advance the business, then they are working to grow things while I’m doing other things, so project work is my second biggest priority. Yours might be delegation work. It’s the same, more or less.

Absolutely Screaming Critical Tasks Third

If you’ve got tasks due that are deadline-specific and really really REALLY deadline specific, those are third in my day. Why not first? Because I’m going to get them done, but if I work on lead gen and project contributions, then I know that I’ve got air coverage (lead gen) and ground support (project teams working), so I can focus on this very specific sniper-level task.

Correspondence Fourth

Now think about this. Where do you normally put things like email, comments, etc? You put them top of the list, right? No matter what you SAY you work on as priorities, your inbox is your first stop. But if you can muster this level of control, if you can push email and responses and thinking about what’s growing in your inbox until it’s the fourth thing in your day, then you’re working from power.

Yes, some jobs are highly dependent on what comes in from email. If so, you might have some kind of filter system that pulls the absolutely critical work emails from the rest of the pile. But still, make the rest of the heap fourth. Email is a system that delivers other people’s priorities to your attention. It’s up to you to decide when that priority should be managed into your world. It’s not the other way around.

In the Macro

If you looked at the four things above without the business labels, it’d look like this:

  1. Long term goals.
  2. Important projects.
  3. Urgent tasks.
  4. Maintenance tasks.

That’s fairly close to how I manage my family life, though the deadline work (urgent tasks) usually have to get handled on the schedule that imposes itself in the family world. Meaning, if my daughter misses the bus, I can’t put that off until the 3rd thing I worry about in a day. But beyond that, even when putting my family first, I look at our long term perspective on things and try to balance them. Time at home is important. Buying a new home that fits the family is even more important in the longer run, so I add it to the balance.

How Does This Fit Your Reality?

Does this make sense in how you organize your time? Would it work for your business? How would you tweak this to match your own needs and goals?

There’s never a one-size fits all method for business. This is just one to consider, based on the reality of what seems to make my own business run and one that I’ve witnessed being used by some other companies in similar formats. I’m most curious as to what YOU do and how this maps. What are your thoughts?

Oh, and if this sparks a post, feel free to link back to this post so that people here can follow along.

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