The 3 Lists Every Entrepreneur Must Make Lists help entrepreneurs stay focused and organized -- two habits imperative for a successful venture.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Starting a company is like a dream come true: no one telling you when to go into the office, you can pick and choose meetings and there's unlimited vacation. Sigh -- the life of an entrepreneur. So flexible, so fabulous. If only it was that easy.
Those perks were likely on the "perk" side of the pro and con list you made before going into business for yourself. But the real truth is that now you're busier than ever. You're likely wearing the hat of HR, IT, marketing and business development teams, just to name a few.
Structure and organization are key to success as an entrepreneur. I know because without my lists I could never get anything done at home, work or play.
For those entrepreneurs needing a little help in the organization department, here are three lists you should be making:
Related: Need to Focus? Ask Yourself This Question.
1. To-do list
You have to have one. I structure mine with daily tasks but you may find that a weekly list works better. Another option is to organize your to-do list by project or client.
It's easiest to plan ahead and make sure not to include too much on the list at once. Try to really be aware of what is feasible given the time frame and resources you have available. I make my to-do lists for the next day before I leave the office at night. I run through everything that is coming up and what has to be handled the next day. I include any appointments and meetings on the list as well. Then when I come in the following day, I just refer to it as my roadmap and hit the ground running.
Related: First Things First: The 5 Secrets to Prioritization
2. Outsource list
Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. I get it, control is a difficult thing to give up -- especially when we're talking about your business. You'll do whatever it takes to make sure it's successful. So why not give the to-do list to someone else?
Outsourcing will provide you the freedom to focus on the tasks you're really good at -- and hopefully increase your chances of making more money. So, make a list of all the mundane tasks that are necessary but that you don't need to physically do yourself. Responsibilities like making appointments, booking travel, uploading your blog posts and maintaining your social-media platforms can easily be outsourced. Investing in the help of interns or virtual assistants will be worth the trouble, as the time you will save is staggering. Make sure to also make a list of all the projects you want to work on once you have some extra help to get the busy work off your plate.
3. To-become list
I'm a big fan of Oprah's mantra: "You become what you believe." Once you set an intention to do something it becomes so much easier to attain it. And taking it one step further and writing it down can really seal the deal. In fact, Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor at the Dominican University of California found that writing down goals will make you 33 percent more likely to achieve them.
This list can include anything that you want for your business and your life -- daydreaming is definitely in order for this list. Think big. Even if you can't figure out how exactly you'd achieve that goal, write it down anyway. Making a to-become list will get you motivated, hold you accountable and remind you of what's important to you and your business. Keep this list somewhere safe and set a reminder in your phone every few months to check it out and see what you've become.