5 ways to prioritize tasks and maximize efficiency

5 ways to prioritize tasks and maximize efficiency

This post is by Allie Siarto, co-founder of Loudpixel, a social media market research company. Rather than relying on expensive, time-consuming surveys or focus groups, Loudpixel's technology and team help companies better understand their customers and market by analyzing social media conversations that are already taking place each day. Allie recently published her first book on social media monitoring and analysis called 'The Social Current.'

As an entrepreneur, I’ve found that my biggest challenge is figuring out which tasks to tackle each day. Do I work on marketing? Sales? Update the website copy? Improve our internal training program? There have been days when I’ve been so overwhelmed by my options that I’ve become completely stuck -- I couldn’t get anything done.

In the end, no single task will help to move the business forward without a larger goal behind it. A few years back, I learned about the concept of a 90-day plan for goal setting when I downloaded a “Get it Together Kit" from photographer Millie Holloman. As business owners, we may not be able to predict exactly where we’ll be in three months and beyond, but we can certainly set specific goals and take action to drive our businesses forward. Setting specific goals and deadlines makes it easier to prioritize tasks and get “unstuck” in day-to-day work. If you’re feeling stuck, here are five quick tips that could help.

Create your 90-day plan.

Choose three to five measurable goals that you want to accomplish within the next 90 days. I create a grid of these goals, along with specific tasks and dates for each based off of Millie Hollman’s template, but you can create your own template in just about any program. Just list each goal at the top, then list specific tasks and deadlines below each.

Post your 90-day plan where you’ll see it every day.

I made my 90-day plan the background on my computer desktop so that I can see it every single day. As I accomplish each incremental goal, I go into the template and cross off my accomplishments so that I can see how much I’ve progressed toward my goals.

Use your 90-day plan to create your daily to-do list.

I use teuxdeux.com to plot specific tasks across time, based on my goals. This way, I don’t have to look at an overwhelming list of to-dos all at once. I can look at my tasks for any given day and know that I’ll get reminders for other tasks later on to stay on track.

Find someone to keep you accountable.

I’ve recently become a big fan of hiring professional coaches. I’m currently working with a speaking coach who I meet with every three weeks. If I fail to meet my incremental goals, I have to answer to him. If you don't have the means to hire a coach just yet, find an accountability group online or ask a friend to be your accountability buddy.

Manage your energy.

I work in a client service business, so it’s natural to start each day responding to client requests and push off tasks related to my bigger goals until later in the day. I did this for years, until I finally discovered that by the time I got around to working on these tasks in the afternoon, my energy way drained. I’m more creative early in the morning, but I was spending my creative energy answering emails. Now I check my email for time sensitive issues in the morning, and if nothing is pressing, I block out an hour or two to focus my energy on my 90-day goals.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.