Confession: I am a to-do list junkie.

I currently have 6 to-do lists in some form on my desk. Sticky notes. Notepads. Asana. Notebooks. Evernote.

Having this many to-do lists does me no good. It keeps me frantically hopping from list to list, trying to get things done. But instead of plowing through these lists and checking off tasks like a total boss, I just get overwhelmed and can’t make progress on ANYTHING.

Instead of tackling my to-do’s like a grown up, this week I’ve just been kind of drowning in half finished tasks and a busy brain that can’t focus on anything. I currently have no less than 5 blog posts sitting in draft mode that I just can’t commit to finishing because I keep getting new ideas. I bounce from thing to thing, unable to complete a simple task. Although I did manage to get groceries today, which honestly felt like a total win.

Confession number 2: I didn’t have a blog post prepared ahead of time for this week.

As a content marketer, this is kind of like a major sin. I know better! It is always smarter to write ahead of time, have things prepared, then focus on distribution and promotion on publish day. Instead, I’m scrambling to finish this post late in the day.

While it’s very important to me to remain consistent with my publishing schedule, I left this task for last today. And here’s where I get to my point:

When your to-do list is overwhelming, start with a task that’s going to make your business money.

This might be a controversial opinion, but when you are having serious trouble getting anything done and just feeding yourself feels like a feat worthy of an Olympic medal, you have to complete the things that are going to make you money this week.

This is the old ‘working ON your business instead of IN it‘ point.

Today I could have made my number one priority writing a blog post with a stellar content upgrade to grow my list, and sharing on social media and in Facebook groups – and this IS a very big priority for me and the growth of my business. But I was stuck and easily could have spent 6 hours working on this while not earning a dime.

Instead, today I chose to focus on 2 things that WILL bring my business money. I created a contract and first invoice for a new client. I created a proposal for another potential client. And I delivered on a project for another client. All of these things are money making activities that will have a quick return.

Now that I have these tasks finished, my brain is ready to focus on writing and hopping on social media to interact with people. Completing a task, especially one that is going to bring in some cash flow, is a great way to get your creativity and your focus back.

Prioritizing to-do lists is tough.

We all have a million things to do and sometimes they all seem equally important. When that happens, I always choose the task that generates income and keeps me in business. Then I am free to move on to marketing or brand building tasks, and my brain is a little more at ease knowing that I’ve served a client that day or done something to bring on a new one.

The takeaway: pick your most important thing, preferably something that will provide an immediate return like sending out a new proposal or following up with a potential client, and knock it out. Once you finish that you can start to focus on the other tasks that need your attention.

What do you when your to-do list starts to get out of control? How do you prioritize?

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