Headshot of Deb Harrison.
Some of Deb Harrison's productivity tips involve lists and how to prioritize the tasks on them. She suggests taking on the most challenging tasks first. — Deb Harrison

If you could create your own fantasy board of directors, who would be on it? CO— connects you with thought leaders from across the business spectrum and asks them to help solve your biggest business challenges. In this edition, we ask an expert about unique ways to be more productive as an entrepreneur or small business owner in the new year.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a startup or an established small business owner, you understand the importance of productivity. The more productive you are, the more likely you are to meet your goals and succeed in the long term. How can you become more productive in 2024?

Deb Harrison, Growth and Change Consultant and Coach answers…

As a growth and change consultant and coach, former high school teacher, wife, and mother of three teens, and having worked through trauma, anxiety, and depression, I bond with time management daily, and I have taught a wide audience (students, entrepreneurs, career mentees, corporate teams, and those going through life changes) about techniques to manage time to maximize efficiency. Here are some of my tips.

Morning mindset for motivation

Approach your daily tasks with a commitment to being the best you can be that day. This looks like, "I will make the best effort I can today to make the best decisions I can today and make the best use of time I can today."

Please note "I can today". Every day is different and every person is different. It's important to not put weight on achieving absolute top task excellence and problem-solving every day. Expecting perfection is a quick way to tire out your mind at the onset of a decision and reduces both your ability to think clearly and creatively and ability to feel calm following decisions.

Be the boss of the list, not vice versa

I have a digital list of projects, one-time tasks, recurring tasks, etc., where I can check items off, but the lists I find most helpful to my emotional well-being are the handwritten lists that I make daily. When something is accomplished, I cross it off with oomph. That moment matters. You are taking an opportunity to take the win and to pause. This is also an opportunity to remind yourself of what’s next. You may not accomplish everything on the list but that’s okay, as those items will carry over to the next day’s list.

Every day is different and every person is different. It's important to not put weight on achieving absolute top task excellence and problem-solving every day.

Deb Harrison, Growth and Change Consultant and Coach

Get the big thing done & break the big things into little ones

Tackle the hardest item you have to get done as soon as possible, so you can cross it off the list and have the awareness of that being completed. It will help set your tone for the day. If the hardest item is actually a collection of smaller parts, break it down into its smaller parts and focus on the first or (if not sequential) hardest item first.

For example, if you are working on creating fifty policies, this item is likely going to take more than one day, and there’s a good chance you have other daily items to accomplish too. In this example, you could pick the hardest policy to work on and address that.

Focus on pacing, not racing

Going too fast can result in mistakes, which means having to take time to fix errors or leaving something uncompleted. While continuing the momentum forward, be wary that your choices are driven by alignment with overall results and not by a desire to hit the quickest time to completion.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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