As an owner of a local business, you’re thinking about a lot of things right now.  As you have decided to read this Step you are probably feeling a little overwhelmed.  When this happens to me I clear my head by emptying it onto a piece of paper.

Before you start this exercise you must understand that you are not making a “to do” list.   You are simply writing everything you need to do or want to achieve or have in your head onto a piece of paper. 

It is also important that you put them on paper and not into your “To Do” or Notes App – don’t ask me why but this works much better with a pen and paper.

It does not matter how big each item is, one may be to climb Kilimanjaro or open another shop and another may be to pay your credit card bill this week.

Write, Write, Write

Before you read the rest of this Step – grab some paper and write, write, write.  When I first did this exercise I filled nearly five sides of the paper!

writing a list

Hopefully, you have now got lots of scribbles and you are probably a little shocked.  Isn’t it amazing just how much our brains can be processing and thinking about at once?  Looking at the lists you can see what one of the sources of your stress is – just trying to process and remember too much!

There are several things that you can do with this list next.  Grab some coloured pens to highlight items that fall into certain categories.

Your lists will contain Macro (big picture) and Micro (tasks) so the first thing you should do is mark each item on your list in green if you think it is a Macro item.  Gary Keller in this book “The One Thing” suggests you focus on one macro item. 

“Focus on one macro item” is business gold

But the next part is very difficult.  Cross out every Marco item on the list except one business item. 

(We are only looking at your local business here so if you have personal or health and fitness-related items on your list then you can do the same process with these so you end up with one focus in each broad category.)

This is a tough exercise, take your time and highlight just one item.

green highter pen

Congratulations – you now have one item circled and you have highlighted your One Thing.  Surprised?  Feeling like your head is clearing?  Scared?  I have done this exercise with many people over the years and they are always 1) shocked by how much they wrote and 2) surprised by which items they did not pick!

Your next job with this list is to find the Micro (tasks) items and put a small tick next to them if they will help you achieve your Macro focus.  This is your priority list and it may only have 10 items on it.

Do or Delegate?

Our final job is to look at these highlighted Macro tasks and write the name of the person who is going to do each one next to the item.  If you are a sole-trader then the answer is probably you unless you are using virtual assistants (more on this in another step).  I use the following rules for business owner delegation. 

  • If it is a one-off and can be done in 2 minutes – do it yourself.
  • If this is something that only you have the information or experience to handle – do it yourself.
  • If someone else can do this job as well as you can then – someone else should do it.   
  • If someone can be trained to do this and it happens regularly  – someone else should do it.

Your One Thing and your path to get there should be clearer.  Your head should now be a lot emptier and you don’t have to spend precious energy remembering everything. 

You can now open your To-Do or Notes App and add a new list/category.  “Things that I want to do once I have done my One Thing”.  Capture the Macro items and then either screw the paper up and throw it away, store it out of site or frame it on your wall to remind yourself just how full your head was.

And remember this is not a To-Do list most of the items you have written down probably should be on a Not-going-to-do-now list.

I would love to know how many pages of items you filled with this step and which one you chose as your One Thing.  Let me know in the comments box below.

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