“If You Want To Get More Accomplished, Get Rid of Your To-Do List”
From sales professionals to CEO’s, there is one BIG common challenge that we all face – How do we get everything done? Twenty-four hours just doesn’t seem to be enough. Adding to the challenge is the fact that rarely are things removed from our pile; instead, our plates only seem to get higher and higher still.
“To-do” lists have become futile and more and more, we seem to engage in crisis management versus real planning and strategic activity.
What’s the answer?
As with most things there is no one-size-fits all solution, but here are some basic tips that may support you getting control of your workload:
1. If your TASK LIST has more than three items on it, it’s USELESS.
I have clients that will tell me they have a list of 50 items but in reality, if you have anything over three, your task list becomes futile. What the larger list indicates more often than not, is that rather than containing targeted, high priority and high impact tasks, the task list may be loaded with mundane “things I must remember to do” tasks. The difference? Results versus “busy-ness”. TRY THIS INSTEAD – Before you end your work day, jot down the 3 most important tasks that you need to accomplish the next day. Even put the three items in order of importance. How do you identify the top three? If you accomplish ONLY those critical tasks, the return (greater revenue, happier employees or customer, reduced costs, higher productivity, etc) should be significant. This then becomes your CRITICAL TASKS LIST.
2. GAIN ALIGNMENT on your critical tasks list with your BOSS.
Let’s face it, no matter how clear you are about your critical tasks, if your boss redirects you, your list is out the window. Sharing your critical tasks list not only keeps them informed of what you are doing to make a difference for the team and the organization, it provides them the opportunity to redirect if needed. This approach provides the added benefit of reducing the likelihood of any “surprises” at evaluation time. You will already be prepared with a record of what you have accomplished!
3. RENEGOTIATE if necessary.
If your boss does indeed have other ideas about your critical tasks list, don’t be afraid to renegotiate one task for another. Ask your boss to take a look at your list and let him/her decide what comes off the list in exchange for the new task. If your task list is indeed a CRITICAL TASKS LIST versus a “to-do” list full of simple tasks, it will be easier to prevent your boss “piling on”.
4. Don’t get SIDETRACKED.
Email, phone calls, paperwork and just the work environment itself all conspire to keep us busy, not effective. You must be committed to completing your Top 3 list. Do NOT do anything else in the morning until you accomplish your TOP 3. Do not answer phones, check email, have employees interrupt you, roam the halls, surf the internet, etc. Put your head down and go about tackling your TOP 3 vital tasks.
5. If you aren’t COMMITTED nothing will change.
Recognize that if you accomplish your vital few tasks each and every day, instead of the trivial many, you will have greater success and balance in your life. WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER.