Join Suzanna Kaye for an in-depth discussion in this video What you need to know, part of Managing To-Do Lists.
- In this course there are several times I'll reference some popular efficiency concepts. Let's take a minute and talk about what these terms and concepts mean and how they can be used in your daily task-management routines. Determining Priorities. Sometimes it's hard to determine what the highest priority task is when everything on your list seems vital. The best way to determine what's truly you highest priority, is by knowing what your goals are. When you know your ultimate goals your highest priority will probably be the task that gets you closer to them the fastest.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about a task to help determine its true priority level. Will it move you closer to a primary goal? What are the benefits of completing this task? Does this have to be done to day or can it wait? Is this required by someone else? Can this be delegated? What's the worst that will happen if it's not completed today? Now that you know your priorities, here are three useful methods to keep your top priorities in focus.
The Top 3. In a task list, highlight the top three priorities of the day. The three tasks that are more important than any other task on the list. Once you complete one of those tasks highlight the next most important task. Work through your list this way. You should have three tasks highlighted at all times. You should only be working on a highlighted task. If it's not highlighted it can wait, because there's something else more important. The 1-3-5 Method. As Alex Cavoulacos of The Muse explained, when you plan your day select 1 large task, which is a task that'll take a long time to complete or it's more complex.
3 medium tasks, and 5 small tasks. Those are the tasks you'll focus on for that day. If Only One Thing. Sometimes focusing on only one extremely important task, keeps you focused the most. If too many tasks seem overwhelming, create an "If Only One Thing" goal for the day. Write down that one thing you can complete to make you feel that today is a success, and keep it visible. I keep a frame on my desk that I write on with dry-erase marker. Inside the frame it says "if I can only accomplish one thing today "it will be".
I focus on that one goal, and once it's complete everything else seems easy, because my day has already been a success. This is especially helpful if you have a large or impactful task that you need to focus on. Efficiencies. Being as efficient and focused as possible is key to managing tasks. Here are some ways to increase your efficiency and get more done. Batching. Put simply, batching is doing similar tasks in the same block of time. For example, one batch would be to make every phone call in your to-do list.
Another batch may be to check and respond to emails. Doing similar tasks together allows your brain to focus on one type of activity. When your mind can focus on one activity type, it's able to focus longer and you'll feel more energized. Fire Time. When scheduling your tasks for the day, make sure to include what I call Fire Time. Fire Time is reserving a chunk of time in your day to handle any emergency that comes up. This way if an urgent matter needs attention it doesn't throw off the rest of your planned tasks.
It simply uses your Fire Time. The bonus is if you don't have any emergencies at the end of the day you can use that time to complete some of those wishlist items that remain on your to-do list but are never high enough priority to actually get done. It's a win-win. Subtasks. If a task seems overwhelming, it may not be broken down enough. Create subtasks of the larger item and it'll seem much easier to handle. For example, if you have a to-do item called "plan a birthday party", it can seem daunting.
But if you break it down into subtasks including order cake, and send out invitations, those tasks all seem much easier. Most people will never complete their entire to-do list. You'll always have a lot of tasks that never get done because they simply weren't high enough priority. Learning how to weed out the important from the "some day" will help you reach your goals and get things done much faster. At the end of each day, create a "done list" to acknowledge what you did complete for the day. And celebrate the successes you had.
(Chuckles) There is always tomorrow for the rest.