Owning your own business means that you are in charge of determining your schedule and what you do everyday. And even though that sounds AMAZING there are some challenges…. because well, as an artist we can be swayed with what INSPIRES us or only end up doing things the we WANT TO DO at the moment. That will only last so long until you realize that you can’t have a successful business just doing what you want when you want to do it. Haha So becoming your own boss also means that you have to CRACK down on yourself to do the things that will move your business forward…. even if you don’t FEEL like doing it at the moment.

Thats where for me… prioritizing to-do lists have really helped me keep on track!! I am a very visual person, so I get EVERYTHING out of my brain and jotted down. That includes all of my ideas, thoughts, projects, deadlines, and to-dos. My brain is already overloaded with stuff so I don’t want to waste my time, energy, and brainpower trying to REMEMBER what all I have to do. I would rather use that brain power to actually DO THE WORK. I have spent a lot of time over the years perfecting my to-do list process. I used to write my to-do lists on pieces of paper… but then I would loose the papers and have to re-write the list… OR I would scratch something off the list and have to re-write the entire list (can you say OCD?). This can then start to be a big time waster. Below are some ways that I found success with to-do lists.

I recently got these new dry erase boards for my office and I am loving them. This was a tool I used in college and to be honest I kind of forgot about it. But it works soooo well. I have them hanging on my wall to glance up at when i need to. and I can just wipe and replace items on the list when I need to. NO loosing papers or having to rewrite lists. I don’t mind using online lists…. But for some reason I like REAL LIFE lists. I think it’s partly because I spend so much time on the computer… that it’s nice to physically write something out.

I use these categories when prioritizing projects

3. ON THE RADAR (6-12months)

The on the radar category are things that I would like to get to within the next few months or even within the next year. This is a glance at the BIG PICTURE, if you will. This list will help remind me what I have in my future, things I need to be mindful of, schedule around, reschedule, or start to work on. These items will gradually move up the priority scale in bits and pieces to get them done. One of the items from this list will be moved to the next “projects” category when it becomes a higher priority. The list may look like this:

+ New custom clients (Randy, Melissa Jill, Abrahm Site, Stephanie, Matilda Jane)
+ New line of style groups
+ Revamp website
+ Revamp style e-course
+ Workshop?

2. PROJECTS TO FOCUS ON (2 wks- 1month)

The Projects To Focus On category are full projects that need to be done within a certain time frame (like within the next 2 weeks or a month). At times this list can feel a little overwhelming… but thats why it’s here. They are a reminder of what projects I have and what clients I am working with at a particular time. This category is not necessary if you are only working on one project… it’s when you have multiple projects where this is very helpful. I determine the level or priority for each project based on three things: 1) The deadline it’s due, 2) The time in which it takes to do, and 3) How inspired I am at that particular moment for that project (heeey now… I AM in a creative field. Inspiration holds it’s weight). Based on how the project ranks on these three things determines when I move it up on the list of priorities. The list may look like this:

+ Randy’s branding & website
+ Melissa Jill website
+ Abrahm Dean website

1. TASKS TO-DO (Today-1week)

I like to feel like I FINISHED something everyday. And sometimes large projects can seem like they drag on forever. So, I breakdown the full project into small, digestible, actionable steps to get done TODAY and check off my list. Because one thing has to lead to another…the list kind of makes itself. Below is an example of what a particular day might look like (including completing 2 steps in the Melissa Jill website project). All tasks are written up the night before… so in the morning I can get RIGHT TO IT!!

+ Gather all information & research
+ Connect with Alex about content

+ Send Randy edits to Liz
+ Prepare design presentation for Randy
+ Such and such blog post
+ Mail thank you note to Jill

Breaking down Melissa Jill’s project like this makes it seem less overwhelming… Because, now, I know that today I am ONLY worrying/focused on gathering the information.


Because I travel a lot, and spend a lot of time on planes, drives, airports, and spend quite a lot of time working away from home I keep a notebook with ALL my notes and to-dos. I use the same technique as above and also jot down ideas i find, cool things I hear about, things to remember, dreams, goals, and other items to tackle. I LOOOOVE this notebook because I always know where my list is and I can see pasts lists and things that I have accomplished. I have used this notebook idea since High School and I still have A LOT of my past notebooks. It’s so cool to look back see where I have been and how far i have come. I usually go through 2 notebooks a year.

Now, THAT is “do-able”. Blah!!! That was a lot of info. And maybe way more than you needed to know. What are your priority processes like? Have you found it difficult as a small business owner to manage your to-do’s and time management?

Oh P.s. teuxdeux.com is a great online to-do list if you like to keep things digital.

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