Time Management: To Do Lists for Small Tourism Businesses

by Joanne Steele on January 14, 2010

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photo by Carissa GoodNCrazy

As a small tourism business owner, you probably do everything from marketing and buying to vacuuming and taking out the garbage.

You are a carrying around a mental “to do” list that’s a mile long, and whether you realize it or not, it’s making you feel tired and distracted.

Here is a simple time management technique I learned recently that has been a great help in getting from “no time” to “all the time I need.”

Our days are like a gallon jar.

There is only so much space in that jar, just as our days contain a finite amount of time.

photo by ohadweb

The most vital tasks we have to do each day are like rocks. Loading those into the jar first, we see little space for anything else.

But, in fact, we can make space in our day (the jar) for many more tasks of secondary importance. These are represented by pebbles.

Pouring in the pebbles, we assure ourselves that our jar is full and there is no more space (time).

And yet we squeeze more tasks of even lesser importance into the day. These are represented by sand, which we pour in to fill all those minute spaces between the pebbles.

Again, we squeeze a few extra projects into that seemingly full day (jar) represented by water. Unbelievably, quite a bit of water (lesser valued activities) still fit into the jar, filling it to the brim.

Going back to the beginning, what happens if we add the water (the tasks of least value to us) first? There is no room left for anything else. Even a grain of sand will cause the jar to overflow. Our day has been filled to the brim with things we value least!

This visualization shows the real value of prioritizing your day and all the tasks you hope to accomplish. How many times to you get to the end of the day and say, “I haven’t accomplished a thing!” even though you’ve been frantically busy.

It’s probably because you’ve made a long list, and instead of doing those big important (sometimes difficult) things first, you started with the quick and easy to finish things (the water in our gallon jar). Suddenly you look up and the day is over and you feel like you’ve not gotten anything done. All those important tasks (the rocks and pebbles) are still staring you in the face.

Try this time management planning tool for a month:

1. Make a list of everything you need to get done that is bugging you. EVERYTHING. Get it all out of your mind and onto paper.

2. Put a big R (rock) next to all the most important things to accomplish. Remember that there is only room for so many rocks in that jar!

We tend to think that everything on the list is so important it all needs to be done… right now, thus the feeling that there is not enough time. These projects are the ones that will give you the most satisfaction to have completed.

3. Go through and label the next most important things with a P (pebbles).

These are the things that are creeping up in importance. For me, getting my state sales tax reported is a “P” right now. It’ll become an “R” next week if I don’t get it done today or tomorrow.

4. Next mark the things that would be nice to get done, but aren’t critical with an S (sand). These are the ones we may find ourselves doing first because they’re easy. Vacuuming my office is an “S”. It might make me feel better in the moment… until this evening when I realize that I still haven’t touched 3 of my “R’s”.

5. Finally, mark everything that is left with a “W”. These are often things that have just crept into your consciousness. You need to remember them, but it’ll be a while before they require action.

6. As you accomplish things cross or check them off. I read somewhere that a small acknowledgement that you’ve accomplished something results in a little burst of serotonin in your brain.

So check stuff off and give yourself a little squirt of feel good juice!

7. Start the next day with a brand new list. You’ll notice that stuff will move up in importance over time. Someday even vacuuming my office becomes an “R!”

Give yourself a month of making daily lists to learn the amazing effectiveness of this technique.

It may take that long to lose the tendency of seeing everything as equally important.

Please let me know how this works for you.

For another time management tip, check out:

Make Time For Online Marketing By Getting Control of Your Email Box

Photos by Carissa GoodNCrazy & ohadweb

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