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10 Mar

Now is the second best opportunity

Datum: 2010-03-10 10:16

This whole busi­ness of good struc­ture – isn’t it some­times the case that we real­ly feel that we would need to work more effec­tive­ly in our every­day life, but we just don’t know where to start? It’s just too much right now and we can bare­ly keep our heads above the water.

We’ve got so lit­tle time that we don’t have the time to change the way we work, even if it’s in order to get more time to work with. It’ll have to be some oth­er time, when we’ve got time. 

But, if we con­tin­ue like this, will the day when we have enough time to start work­ing more 
effi­cient­ly ever come? Do we real­ly have to wait?

Not the way I see it. Right now is the sec­ond best time to start. The best time was yesterday.

So, let us now take only one sim­ple step in the right direc­tion. What would that be?

A con­stant influx

Cen­tral to a smooth, sys­tem­at­ic approach to our way of work­ing is the to-do list. This is where the influx of data from tele­phone calls, snail mails, e‑mails, meet­ings, min­gles etc. will end up, and from it you can pick all the tasks you’re going to do every­day. That you can rely on the list, and relax know­ing that every­thing you’re going to do is there, with­out hav­ing to mem­o­rize it, is the very point of hav­ing one.

And, make sure you make it easy. This is the first step towards a more effec­tive approach. Have a low thresh­old to begin with.

Six quick steps

If you want, do like this:

  1. Decide whether you want the list to be elec­tron­ic or on a sheet of paper.
  2. Allo­cate 15 min­utes when you can work undis­turbed. That is no longer than a cof­fee break or an unex­pect­ed delay by a traf­fic jam.
  3. In your cho­sen medi­um (Out­looks task func­tion, a blank sheet of paper, Excel, notepad on the com­put­er, iCal to-do func­tion or the like), write down every­thing you have in your head that you know you have to do — one task per line. Write full sen­tences, which means, instead of just writ­ing new office”, write Con­tact real estate agent about vacant premis­es”; instead of just Tick­ets”, write Call the trav­el agent and book tick­ets for NY”.
  4. Decide how you will make it easy for you to make new notes on the list and to delete notes from it. For exam­ple, decide to always have the list in a spe­cial com­part­ment in your bag, or add a short­cut to the doc­u­ment on your com­put­er desktop.
  5. Now con­tin­ue to be con­sis­tent. When you come to think of new tasks, write them down on the list, if they take more than 2 min­utes to imple­ment (oth­er­wise, do them right away).
  6. If you try to mem­o­rize new infor­ma­tion or new tasks and keep it in your head instead of on the list, the list will not be use­ful to you. Nor will it be use­ful if you make a new list every day with­out trans­fer­ring data from the orig­i­nal list, or if you write down infor­ma­tion on oth­er notes or slips of paper instead of on your list.
  7. Decide upon a spe­cif­ic time or day every week when you go through the whole list and add or remove tasks.

But, why?

You’ll notice that you keep bet­ter track of what you’ve got to do. You’ll com­plete your tasks ear­li­er than expect­ed and miss few­er dead­lines. You will feel less stressed and you relax more eas­i­ly when you have free time.

How do you do it?

How did this work out for you? Do you have oth­er tips on how to take first, sim­ple steps to achiev­ing a smoother way of working? 

If you do, leave a com­ment below.