I was recently talking to a business owner, who seemed rather proud of their long to-do list. After a little prodding I learned that they thought a full task list was a sign of a growing business and that the longer their list, the more they were needed in their company. And while I understood the sentiment, the truth is that for most owners, the longer the to-do list the less time they have to actually work on their business, not in it. They spend their days doing mundane tasks and putting out fires, not achieving real growth. So today, I wanted to share with you the four things that you should really be spending your time and energy on and talk about how you can get everything else off your plate.

What You Should Be Focusing On

99% of the things on your to-do list aren't going to help you grow your business. They may help with the day to day, but they won't get you closer to the goal post. The things that matter the most are: strategic planning, creating company culture and traditions, vision casting for the future and communication processes company-wide. These are the things that you, as a business owner, are in the position to make real substantial progress. These items can't be handed off to another team member or pushed to the bottom of the list. They are the things that you as an owner, founder or CEO must spend your most productive time working on.

Now look at your own to-do list. How many of those items are on that list? There may be a few strategic planning line items here or there...but the rest is usually just filler. It's rare to see a leader putting time on their calendar to think through company culture, vision casting or communication processes but those that make it a point of focus are the ones that experience the fastest, most sustainable business growth.

How to Get There

Now that you know the things you should be focusing on, your to-do list suddenly looks a lot simpler. But the things you crossed off your list, still need to be done, just not by you. Which is where learning to delegate becomes a crucial leadership skill. Being able to recognize things that are better done by someone else, being able to properly hand the task or project off to the best person on your team, and follow up to make sure that the project is completed in a timely manner is a skill that is learnt over time. The more times you hand off projects, the better you will get at the job. Make note when the hand off needs a little work, and don't be afraid to change the process or ask for clarification to make sure that you are delegating properly.

The best way to grow is not having a long to-do list. It's having a laser focused list of high value items that will help you reach your goals quickly.