Are Your To-Dos Really Valuable?

Contributed by Jeanette Gardiner

I bet you didn’t know an Italian economist, born in 1848 could influence your to-do list today.

But Vilfredo Pareto can. Ever heard of the 80/20 rule?

You see Pareto observed that that eighty percent of income in Italy was received by twenty percent of the Italian population. And the assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.

Starting to see the connection?

Go ahead and grab your to-do list along with your calendar. Can you identify the actions and tasks that contribute to eighty percent of your business success? Chances are your days are brimming with what seem to be actions and tasks that generate revenue and produce energy-filled days (which both contribute to your business success). 

But take a closer look at how valuable your to-dos really are. If you can’t clearly identify the value of each action and task on there, then it’s time to dig a little deeper.

Knowing which to-dos are the most valuable will help you make smarter business decisions and reenergize your days. If you’re not sure how to determine which are the most valuable, use these three questions to help you get started.

1.    Can this task be done by someone else?

Your most valuable tasks will always be the ones that only you can do. If you're a New York Times bestselling author, then your most valuable task would be writing. If you're a coach, your most valuable task would be coaching your clients. If you’re working on a project and there are pieces that someone else can do, don’t be afraid to outsource. By outsourcing, you’ll focus on bringing your very best to the project. 

If you’re not sure where to look for qualified help, here are some suggestions:

•    Ask colleagues for referrals.
•    Check with your local chamber of commerce, networking groups or professional associations.
•    Search FIVRR or Upwork for freelancers. 

2.    Does this task generate revenue?

Your most valuable tasks are revenue generators. This is important to understand because many business owners spend too much time on activities that aren’t profitable. Tasks like spending two hours fussing over your Facebook cover image or agonizing over colors for your website aren’t likely generating revenue for your business.

If a task doesn't generate revenue, then you need to ask if this is something that truly needs to be completed by you. Outsourcing day-to-day tasks lets you focus on big picture tasks and actions that increase your income.

3.    Am I energized by this task?

Your most valuable tasks are the ones that energize and strengthen you. If you love a task and it fires you up, chances are that it's a valuable task. Many business owners dread the small, everyday tasks because they already know these tasks don't matter that much.

When it comes to activities that are energy-draining, you need to evaluate whether they even need to be done in the first place. It could be that you’re holding onto outdated advice or that your business has changed so much that you no longer need to do this task. 

Review your to-do’s regularly.

Regular reviews of your to-do’s and calendar will help you stay ahead of energy-draining, non-revenue generating actions and tasks. At the very least, evaluate your work at the beginning of the year (quarterly would be better) to identify the truly valuable actions and tasks that are on your plate. And don’t be afraid to let go of or outsource the eighty percent tasks so you can embrace the twenty percent that will help you bring your best self to serving your customers.

Ready to move this information into action? Download the journal exercise over on my website today ( and use it along with your to-do list and calendar to identify your most valuable twenty percent actions and tasks.  

About Jeanette Gardiner:
Jeanette Gardiner lives in Palmer, Alaska, and is the Owner of SeaStar Strategies LLC where she helps time-strapped small business owners discover the gift of time by streamlining their administrative and marketing systems. Learn more at