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Working from Home: 5 Tips to Help Small Business Owners Manage Competing Priorities

Published 26 April, 2021

Entrepreneurs have always faced competing priorities – client work, admin, family responsibilities, self-care, and for some businesses, staffing issues – with the ebb and flow of the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the challenges.

As if running my Virtual Support business, being a Director of my local Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and adopting a rescue puppy wasn’t enough, during lockdown I turned my hobby of creating items household and garden items out of scrap wood into a growing business.  I fully understand how difficult it can be to prioritise responsibilities.  Here are some of the tactics that work for me:

1. Maintain separate to-do lists

I find that having one to-do list that covers everything on my plate is overwhelming.  So in addition to a high-level master to-do list, I keep separate lists for each of my responsibilities, such as:

  • Virtual Support business
  • Woodcraft business
  • Home
  • Family and pets
  • Health and wellness
  • Volunteering
2. Prioritise your priorities

Each to-do list will contain a mix of tasks—with some being more urgent than others. To ensure I address the most critical responsibilities I organise my lists in order of priority.  But there are bound to be times when the lines blur about what should get your undivided attention.  Consider trying one or more of the following techniques for prioritising tasks.

  • Priority Matrix – This involves organising tasks into quadrants to determine which should take precedence. Check out the Eisenhower Decision Matrix and Stephen Covey’s time management matrix for more information.
  • ABC Method– Rank tasks as  “A,” “B,” or “C” depending on their level of importance. When multiple tasks are deemed to have the same degree of urgency, e.g. several “A”s,  rank the tasks within each of those priority categories to determine your plan of action.
  • Eat the Frog– Personally, I find this is an invaluable method for tackling my days. “Eating the frog” involves doing the tasks you like least first. This then allows you to work more intently on the other responsibilities you have awaiting you.

3. Delegate to Get It Done

Even if you are the only person in your business, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do everything yourself.  Take a good look at your to-do lists to see what you can delegate to others, whether that be staff, family, or an external expert.

If you’re not sure which business tasks to outsource take a look at my Blog on outsourcing.


4. Negotiate Due Dates 

Discuss the possibility of rescheduling lower-priority stakeholder activities. Most people cooperate when asked if it’s okay to set a new deadline for non-urgent tasks that won’t have a ripple effect if not accomplished by a specific date.


5. Use Tools to Your Advantage

There is a wealth of productivity and collaboration tools available to help you communicate with team members, organise tasks, and manage projects.

My previous Blog “Essential Remote Working Tools for Small Businesses” looks at a range of free, or affordable, options.

While these tools are geared toward helping businesses, you might also find ways to use their capabilities for managing your home projects and tasks, too.

Contact me for your FREE CONSULTATION

Sue Reid