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Ask the Entrepreneurs: What Do You Cross Off Your To-Do List First?

Ask the Entrepreneurs: What Do You Cross Off Your To-Do List First?

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in an area of management, communication, business, or life in general.

Most people have a list of actions that they prioritize for at the start of the day, these lists can be created in tools such as Evernote, Wunderlist, Remember the Milk and a host of other tools (Ed: We’re building Listible to help you create lists), but there is usually one thing on your list you want to accomplish first to help kick-start your day. Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What do you cross off your to-do list first every day, and why does it help you stay productive?

1. Make a Plan

    Before starting on the work of the day, I create an action plan. I list everything that I need to accomplish and review the list along with scheduled meetings. By going over the plans for the day, I am prepared to complete all the tasks on my to-do list.

    Alexandra Mayzler, Thinking Caps Tutoring

    2. Read for Fuel

      I read articles and blogs. I consider continual learning to be a top priority, so I always do it first. It fuels ideas and provides knowledge for the rest of my day.

      Brent Beshore, AdVentures

      3. Whatever the Biggest Priority Is

        As a work at home mama and business owner, my daily priorities are constantly changing. When my work day starts, I tackle the one thing on my list that contributes the most to the bottom line. Typically that means a call with a potential client or moving a new product forward gets crossed off my to-do list first.

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        Molly Mahar, Stratejoy

        4. Write First

          First thing first — I write. I spend the first couple hours every morning writing, whether it’s a new ad campaign, email campaign, or a guest blog post. Writing is the most valuable activity I can do in my business, and that’s why I put it first on my list every morning. Identify the most valuable thing you can do for your business — and do it first, before you check your email. Email can wait.

          Pete Kennedy, Main Street ROI

          5. Eat the Frog

            “If you have to eat a live frog, it does not pay to sit and look at it for a very long time!” Do whatever it is that you don’t want to do, but need to do most first thing in the morning … and then the rest of the day is just peachy.

            Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

            6. Prepare Daily Indicators

              Our controller prepares our business “daily indicators” every morning. It’s an overall view of the health of our business. Evaluating the daily indicators each morning is a great way to get focused and keep day-to-day decisions in perspective as they relate to overall goals.

              Abby Ross, Blueye Creative

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              7. Check Twitter Feeds

                I use Twitter to catch up with the rest of the world and find out what I missed. It’s not a healthy addiction but it’s a great way to stay up to date.

                Ben Lang, EpicLaunch

                8. Review Growth Metrics

                  As the steward of a social media startup, we’re all about community growth. So every morning I review our growth numbers from the day before — how many sign ups have our reps gotten and are we on track to meet our monthly goals. If growth is stagnating, addressing the “why” is job one for the day. If a community is not growing, it’s dying.

                  Brendan Mangus, Habidy

                  9. First Things First: Email

                    Contrary to a lot of “guru” advice, I check my email first thing in the morning. Once I know everything is in order and moving forward, I can focus on my day.

                    Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits

                    10. Calendar Check

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                      The first thing I do is look at my calendar to see how I’ve planned my day. Seeing what meetings are scheduled allows me to properly prepare myself and my team members for what we’ll be tackling that day.

                      Zach Cutler, Cutler Group

                      11. The 3 Easiest Tasks

                        I’m not really a fan of the whole “Eat That Frog” concept. I start my day with the three of the easiest tasks on my to-do list. This makes a little dent in my list right away, which makes me feel as though I’m on a roll. I always find that when this is the case, I burn through more tasks than I would when focusing on my biggest list items first.

                        Travis Steffen, WorkoutBOX

                        12. Call Every Teammate

                          We have a distributed team (Berkeley, Atlanta, South Korea, San Francisco). The most important thing I do each morning is talk to each teammate — I want to know how they are, what projects are on their plate, and what I can do to help them succeed each day. These calls create a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose, and provide a great opportunity to set team priorities.

                          Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

                          13. Yoga

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                            20 Minute Yoga is the first thing I have scheduled into my day. Yoga and stretching has so many benefits like improved circulation, strength building, better posture, and many more. It helps me get focused and feel good for the day ahead. I recommend checking out Tara Stiles on YouTube at youtube.com/tarastilesyoga. She has yoga routines you can do in 5 minutes from home.

                            Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

                            14. Write 3 Thank You Notes

                              I start every workday by writing three thank you notes. It is extremely important to show appreciation to those who have contributed to your success in any way. Gratefulness sparks a cycle of positivity whereby which those who are appreciated are likely to provide further assistance in the future. In regards to its role in my daily routine, writing these cards puts me in a more positive mindset

                              Dave Kerpen, Likeable Media

                              15. Ask These 3 Questions

                                These three things gets automatically added on my digital To Do list every day:
                                (1) Who am I required to be today?
                                (2) What is the one thing that I want to enjoy today?
                                (3) What is the ONE thing that I am required to do today?

                                Peter Nguyen, Advertiser360

                                16. Morning Checklist

                                  Each morning, I complete the same checklist: look at calendar, review projects list, answer e-mail, answer voicemails and texts, and clear daily paper file. This has three benefits: It helps me process everything effectively; it makes starting my day effortless; and it allows me to plan effectively based on the most recent information.

                                  Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®

                                  Featured photo credit:  Laptop (notebook) with cup of coffee and notepad with pen via Shutterstock

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                                  9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

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                                  1 What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For? 2 Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes 3 10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness 4 11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity 5 How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life

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                                  Last Updated on October 16, 2019

                                  Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                                  Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                                  Do you like making mistakes?

                                  I certainly don’t.

                                  Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

                                  Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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                                  Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

                                  Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

                                  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
                                  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
                                  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
                                  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

                                  We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

                                  If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

                                  Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

                                  Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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                                  When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

                                  Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

                                  We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

                                  It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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                                  Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

                                  Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

                                  Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

                                  1. Point us to something we did not know.
                                  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
                                  3. Deepen our knowledge.
                                  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
                                  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
                                  6. Inform us more about our values.
                                  7. Teach us more about others.
                                  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
                                  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
                                  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
                                  11. Remind us of our humanity.
                                  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
                                  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
                                  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
                                  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
                                  16. Invite us to better choices.
                                  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
                                  18. Can reveal a new insight.
                                  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
                                  20. Can serve as a warning.
                                  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
                                  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
                                  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
                                  24. Remind us how we are like others.
                                  25. Make us more humble.
                                  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
                                  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
                                  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
                                  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
                                  30. Expose our true feelings.
                                  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
                                  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
                                  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
                                  34. Show us when we are not listening.
                                  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
                                  36. Can create distance with someone else.
                                  37. Slow us down when we need to.
                                  38. Can hasten change.
                                  39. Reveal our blind spots.
                                  40. Are the invisible made visible.

                                  Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

                                  The secret to handling mistakes is to:

                                  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
                                  • Have an experimental mindset.
                                  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

                                  When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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                                  When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

                                  It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

                                  When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

                                  Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

                                  Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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                                  Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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