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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

                                  More by this author

                                  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

                                  Trending in Productivity

                                  1 How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life 2 How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated 3 How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life 4 How to Develop Mental Toughness to Help You Stay Strong 5 How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

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                                  Published on April 25, 2019

                                  How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

                                  How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

                                  Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

                                  Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

                                  Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

                                  Creativity.

                                  What is Creativity?

                                  When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

                                  Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

                                  Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

                                  From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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                                  For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

                                  Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

                                  That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

                                  Limitations are Actually Opportunities

                                  The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

                                  Let me illustrate with an example.

                                  On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

                                  However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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                                  At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

                                  It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

                                  This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

                                  I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

                                  To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

                                  My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

                                  But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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                                  “But daddy, is it important?”

                                  “No, of course not,” I bluffed.

                                  Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

                                  And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

                                  Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

                                  I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

                                  I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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                                  Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

                                  This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

                                  Creativity is One Key to Success

                                  When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

                                  Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

                                  Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

                                  So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

                                  Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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