It happens to me all the time. I start the day with my list of things to complete, and before I know it hours have passed, and I’m lucky if I’ve crossed one item off my list. Frustrating! Clear sign that I may be a slave to time, closing out the day with a longer list for the next day and feelings of overwhelm starting to creep in. But how does this happen?
Let’s see if we can break it down.
First step, your list. Do you have one? Check. Did you put all the important tasks on the list? Check. Now, did you prioritize the list based on most necessary to complete? What? Missed that one? Not to worry, many people do. Many times we may use our list as a tool to remember what needs to be done, and then get caught up in whatever is in front of us right now. The list is relegated to more of a ‘If There’s Time To Do’ list. Let’s find a way to use the list as the way to be productive, and successful every day. There are loads of books and courses devoted to the topic of time management, but a couple of things can help get you on the right path.
The first one that is crucial to success is to prioritize your list. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say you listed items such as: Send thank you to new client, Check out new cell phones, Set up payment plan with doctor, and Get an oil change. When you look at these items, you may want to prioritize by which item will be easiest, or take the least amount of your time, or even which you would enjoy more. We all do it. It’s natural to put off the thing on our list that we just don’t want to do. And doing anything else, even if it isn’t on the list. We welcome distractions as a ‘reason’ we didn’t get that task completed. This is not helping us be successful IF that task we skipped is the most important one to getting us closer to a goal we have.
Instead, when you write your list, take a look at each item and ask yourself, is this task urgent, important to a goal, and need to be done as soon as possible? If you say yes to these questions, then you know this task should be a priority. You could label it a ‘1’ or an ‘A’, or whatever works for you to know to do it first. Items that are less urgent can be labeled ‘2’ or ‘B’, and items that you would just like to do at some point would be ‘3’ or ‘C’. Now your list has meaning, and you can concentrate on what will get you closer to completing a goal. You will definitely feel better at the end of the day if you use your energy to do the #1 tasks.
The second tip that will help you be more successful at managing your time is to limit the distractions. This could involve turning off your TV, checking email or Facebook at only scheduled times of the day, or when a distraction surfaces that does not need to be handled immediately just add it to the list with the appropriate label (2 or 3). This is harder than it sounds in our information overloaded society. There could be withdrawal symptoms from tweeting or messaging. Think about it; how important (on a scale of 1-3) is it that you know what everyone says all the time? If you give yourself even an hour of distraction-free time to complete an item from your list, you will enjoy catching up that much more. And you may even be inspired to do more.
This is a great unexpected benefit of feeling productive. You become more productive. All it takes is two simple steps to use your list in a different way. Once you get that down, the sky is the limit.
To your success!