Yesterday, I had a meeting with a client where we were supposed to spend 3 hours brainstorming a marketing strategy for a new store grand opening. Instead, we spent the time organizing her schedule. She couldn't even "think about marketing ideas and strategy" until she had made sure that everything was going to get done on time.
This got me wondering how many of our retail clients and partners are in the same predicament. How cluttered are their minds with day-to-day tasks? And how does this clutter affect the long term strategic planning that business owners must do to insure a successful future for their businesses?
So I've decided to create a series of blog posts that will give you information to help organize your time and tasks in order to make you more efficient in your day-to-day business operations. Hopefully, you can use the "extra" time you gain to strategize long-term projects (marketing, operations, social media strategy) that can and will improve the overall performance of your retail business.
Today we start with a tip that can improve your efficiency and help you to create a replicable process to help you achieve all of your daily activities. I'm talking about a to-do list.
Why do I believe creating a well-organized to-do list will improve your businesses' overall performance? Most importantly, because I believe that creating a to-do list will help the most important person in the business - that's you - focus on what is important to your business on a daily basis.
When you, as the owner and visionary for your business, define success on a daily basis it will make you focus (with laser precision) on the tasks that are necessary and most relevant for you to achieve optimum performance from your business. Here we offer some quick and easy guidelines to creating, and maintaining a to-do list for your business:
1. Create a final to do list before you go home at night. This will clear your head at the end of every day and insure you remember all the tasks that must get accomplished the following day. (Note: putting your list in plain sight and adding tasks as you remember them all day long will go a long way toward making the end of the day list building much quicker.)
2. Organize your to do list in 3 categories. Allocate time for each priority on your list.
a.High priority – These are the very important tasks and the ones that if not finished, will have the most impact on business operations if not accomplished.
b.Medium priority – While important, these are tasks that must get accomplished on time, but not critical to the bottom profit line of your business.
c.Low priority - These are tasks that are not critical to business operations and bottom line, but none the less need to get accomplished. Think of them as tasks that you would like to get accomplished (if there was enough time in the day). Tasks in this priority are not affixed to a specific weekly or monthly deadline. (These may be great tasks that if left on your list for a few days running, may be candidates to be delegated to another staff member.)
(Note: If anything remains a low priority on your to do list for more than 2 weeks, we suggest you take it off your list. Clearly, it wasn't important to the future of your business otherwise you would move it up the priority list and make sure you got it done!)
3. When writing your list, check the calendar for future events. What is going on the next day? And in 2-4 days that you need to do work for? (Pre-planning tasks that need to be completed will save everyone in your organization from running around at the last minute to complete it.)
4. Communicate and schedule time in advance. Make sure that you engage all of the necessary participants required to accomplish your task well in advance of your deadline. (If you need your manager, marketing director, or bookkeeper to help you finish the task on your list, you must request their participation in order to make sure you can finish on time.)
If most of these tips seem like common sense, it's because they are. The key is that you must have the discipline required to set up and to complete to do list on a daily basis. No one can help you meet the goals you set up for your retail business if you don't start with a good example. So start writing a to do list and start accomplishing the tasks you need to for your business!
Lynn Switanowski is the Founder of Creative Business Consulting Group, an International Retail Consulting firm based in Boston, MA. With more than 25 years retail experience CBCG partners with retailers to create and implement profit improving sales, inventory management, marketing and social media programs.