This is a picture of my “to do list” a year ago:
I followed a suggestion by time management expert Lee Milteer, who recommends you divide a bulletin board into columns for each project, goal, or problem you’re working on. Fill the board with notecards and post-its for your ideas and tasks, and tack up any relevant articles, pictures, or other material.
Right away, a lot of the clutter I was carrying around in my head went up on the wall. But my, how these things accumulate!
Soon the bulletin board became a dumping ground for anything I didn’t want to deal with right away.
When things got too cluttered, I made a commitment to go through one column every week. I was surprised to find that many tasks had become irrelevant. Either I had already taken care of them, or I had replaced them with something bigger and better.
If it’s important but not urgent, will it ever get done?
Imagine the joy of prying out all those thumb tacks and popping bags of paper scraps into the recycle bin. But the real benefit came from finding gems in my to do list.
They were action items that are important, but not urgent. These are the tasks that Steven Covey puts in “Quadrant II” in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Things like marketing, learning new skills that will help you become more successful, efforts that will grow your business but aren’t necessary to maintain it.
Ultimately, these are the things that will transform your life. But since they’re not a part of our daily routine, and never a part of the fires we put out all the time, most people never do them.
How this will affect your marketing
If you don’t go out and promote yourself today, there probably won’t be any immediate consequences. If you don’t do it tomorrow, you’ll feel just fine. But if you neglect it until the pipeline of future business dries up, you’ll be in trouble.
Sales and marketing are never urgent but always critical. Make time for them, and if necessary use this system.
Put all your ideas, concerns, and “to do” items up on the wall. Then just let them sit there for a while. It’s like compost for the garden of your life. You’ll feel calmer for having addressed them, and your mind will be more focused on the present.
Later, when you’re ready, take down the litter and return it to the earth from whence it came. But pick out the diamonds in the pile, and make time in your schedule (no matter how little) to work on them.
If none of your marketing tasks are on your diamond list, I’m going to send you a big bag of compost in the mail!
One more thing before we both get back to work. Once you’ve scheduled your important, non-urgent tasks, keep the commitments you make to yourself as firmly and unfailingly as you keep your word to other people.