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:
- Decide whether you want the list to be electronic or on a sheet of paper.
- Allocate 15 minutes when you can work undisturbed. That is no longer than a coffee break or an unexpected delay by a traffic jam.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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). 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.
- Decide upon a specific time or day every week when you go through the whole list and add or remove tasks.
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.