By Allen Michael

For small business owners, there never really is an end to your to-do list. Managing the constant stream of things that needs to get done can be overwhelming, to say the least. However, over the years I have implemented a strategy to how I start my day. This 4 step process has made me far more productive in running a plethora of websites, while simultaneously reducing my stress.

Prepare Your Calendar

First things first, take stock of what you have to do that day, and ensure you are prepared. Do you have a few meetings on the calendar? Make sure your notes are prepped. And, if you have anything to present, quickly review it to refresh your memory.

This will keep you from feeling rushed and chaotic as the day moves forward. Things can start to stack as the day progresses, and you can now rest assured that you are ready to meet your obligations

Tackle Your Inbox

No, this does not mean answering every email. While this is a natural reaction to a full inbox, it is not the most productive way to proceed.

Instead, organize your inbox. Glance at each new email and take stock. If the task associated with the email can be handled in five minutes or less, do it now. For example, perhaps a co-worker just needed confirmation about a meeting time. Handle that quickly, so you can move on and not having it hanging around.

If the task or tasks in the email are going to take more than five minutes, transfer the task to your to-do list and file the email away. Yes, you will undoubtedly need to go back to the email to potentially respond to it, but that’s where a good organization system for your email comes into play.

If you only did this step each day, you would experience tremendous relief. Your inbox will be manageable, and you’ll stop having the urge to constantly check it to make sure you’re not missing something.

Review Your To-Do List

For starters, if you’re not using a task manager, you need to. There are a variety of amazing free options such as Asana and Trello. To review your list, start by looking at any overdue tasks. These are critical path, and you need to make sure you have a plan for those first and foremost.

Beyond the overdue tasks, look at what you have due for today. Given that you now know your calendar, and you’ve gotten everything from email over to your to-do list, you should have a pretty good idea of what your day looks like. Will you be able to get everything done that you have your list for the day? If not, adjust a few things so you’re out in front of the tasks and their deadlines (rather than being behind and subsequently stressed).

Do the Most Important Thing

Undoubtedly you’ve heard this axiom before. But, its true. Figure out what is the most important thing to accomplish for the day, and go do it.

Note this isn’t necessarily the quickest or the easiest thing. If you could only get one thing done for the day, and still view the day as a success, what would it be?

Owning or running a business brings with it a never-ending pile of work. But, with the right approach, you can systematically do what is most important, each and every day. This will have benefits for both you and your business.

Allen Michael is the founder and editor of a collection of expert-focused topical websites, most notably SawsHub and The Stick Vacuums. Detail oriented and obsessed with efficiency, Allen focuses the sites on providing relevant, pertinent information to guide and assist each site’s target market.