“Make sure your daily “To-Do List” is your servant that defines what matters and determines your daily priorities.”

A to-do list can be a helpful tool for running your day, but it can also be a place where tasks go to linger and die. If you end the day with things undone or if you keep carrying tasks forward to the next day or week, you need a to-do list makeover—a reality check on how you spend your time, as well as your expectations.

You and your team must be clear on what matters, and why. Poor and even average leaders walk around not knowing their priorities and why they matter. You have to start with the “why” before you attack your to-do list.

Priorities are the things that are most important to us right now—present tense. Not serving them is non-negotiable. Even great leaders only focus on two or three priorities at a time. If not, you become scattered and unfulfilled. You start filling time with stuff that doesn’t really matter to the bottom line and the development of your team members.

Once you know your priorities and the why, everything on your to-do list should serve them. What’s incredibly important is to listen for the “shoulds, ” whether you’re saying them out loud or in your head. People are “shoulding” all the time and throughout your organization. When you hear or think “should,” you’re not serving your priorities.

Great leaders give every task a value. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, consider yourself the CEO of your day. Look at your to-do list and assign every task a metric or value, such as a dollar-per-hour amount that you might have to pay someone else. This approach gives instant clarity to how you are investing your time into your assigned responsibilities.

Measure the tasks’ urgency. Use the Eisenhower matrix to categorize your master to-do list into four sections: “urgent and important,” “not urgent but important,” “urgent and not important, and “not important and not urgent.” Urgent things are seldom important and important things are seldom urgent. With few exceptions, urgent things were first important things that were assigned lesser value or ignored altogether.

If you don’t prioritize your daily tasks based on the fundamental “why,” be assured others will do it for you based on their priorities and their why. If you don’t define what matters, you won’t prioritize and do what matters. These two factors more than anything else leads to your team being confused and de-energized at best, or worse, totally disengaged.