If You Have Too Much to Do – Make Sure You Are Doing the RIGHT Things

Time is a precious and finite commodity. You can’t save it and you can’t manufacture more of it. You can only use it. The best use of this limited resource comes from mastering two keys tasks:

• Prioritizing the many demands on your time, and

 

• Using as many time management tools as you can.

 

It isn’t always easy to get a handle on your time. And time is’nt really something you can manage. But activities can be managed.

How well do you use your time? You can inventory how you use your ‘non-productive time’ (driving, sleeping, eating, exercising, walking the dog, watching TV, surfing the Internet), and eliminate those things that are of no value. You can also inventory your use of productive time and figure out if you have the right priority assigned to things that you need to tackle (effectiveness) as well as review your skills in handling these items (efficiency).

 

With regard to accomplishing work objectives and increasing our productivity and effectiveness, it might be more appropriate to call Time Management, Work Management!

 

An easy way to get a handle on getting to the right things, is to try the following:

 

On a legal pad, list all of the things that you need to do. Keep an inch margin on the left hand side of the list. If you want to include personal items (send birthday card, pick out wallpaper), do so. If there are large tasks ahead of you, break them down into more manageable steps (rather than ‘design newsletter’, put down ‘select article topics for upcoming newsletter’).

  • If there are any items that are time sensitive, write down the due date so you have that in front of you.
  • Put today’s date at the top of the list.
  • If you have more that one sheet of paper when you are done, don’t panic.

 

 

THEN –

 

  • Go through the list and write a M in the left hand column next to any and every item that MUST get done today (upon penalty of death). Try not to put down more than 5 M’s.

 
  • Rank the M’s in order of importance. These are the things that absolutely MUST get down today.

 
  • Then you start with number 1. When it’s completed, cross it off the list.

 
  • Don’t look down the list to find easy things to do (call Mary, return Bill’s call). Do the right (most important) things first. When you have completed all of the M’s, you can then go down the list to see what else to tackle.

 
  • As new items come up, add them to the list. Determine where they fit; Are the M’s, or can they wait?

 
  • At the end of each day, write a new list with a new group of M’s. If you didn’t get to your last M today, that becomes your first M tomorrow. If something has been on your list for two weeks and you haven’t gotten to it, either make it an M 1 tomorrow, or eliminate it from the list. It’s only making you feel guilty! It isn’t getting done and it isn’t important enough to you to get down.

 

 

 Why a pad of a paper and not you PDA, Blackberry or Smartphone? Because you can see the paper easily, take it with you, keep it plain sight, have it available on your desk, and the act of writing your list keeps the items in your mind while the act of crossing off completed items can be very satisfying.

 

 Try this for at least a week before you decide whether it will work for you. It’s deceptively simple, but also highly effective. Getting the right things done requires keeping your focus on the right things. Even if you come into work and find that there are fires that need to be put out and emergencies that require your attention, this simple system allows you to return to your plan after any distraction.

 

 

 
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