1. Prepare a list of all the tasks that need to be done. Your to-do list should include everything that comes to mind. The idea is to get it all down on paper. Don’t edit your selections or stop to think about any single item. Just keep building the list until you’ve covered it all.
2. Prioritize your list according to importance. The easiest way to do this is to categorize each item into three major sections: A) Crucial And Urgent B) Important But Not As Urgent C) Neither Important Or Urgent. The A’s are the most important and therefore should take top priority-- always. B’s are next in line and C’s are seldom worth spending your time on. Taking the time to prioritize in the beginning, will help you to knock off one job after another, without stopping to decide the relevant importance of a task.
3. Determine which is your most critical task by listening to your own inner voice. Seldom will it lead you astray.
4. Delete any task from your to-do list that simply isn’t important. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I dropped this entirely from the list?” If you can tolerate the answer painlessly, drop it at once.
5. Delay tasks that aren’t urgent in favor of the most pressing ones. Not
everything needs to be done right now. Sometimes a project is held up by
suppliers, vendors, or clients themselves. Postpone what you can, then use
that time to get the most important jobs done.
6. Develop the habit on sketching out plans on paper for accomplishing tasks, large and small. The degree of success enjoyed by many can be directly attributed to the amount of written life planning they undertake. Create the road map first and follow it. Simple, but very effective.
7. Factor in the time investment required for each task you need to accomplish on your list. Take into account the time required for such things as travel, briefing others, planning and outsourcing. Don’t forget to consider the loss of actual productive time in doing these other activities.
8. Stop and think about what you’re planning to do. How could it be done more effectively? Take a few minutes to outline, schedule and rationalize your plans. A simple outline can save you hours of indecision.
9. Set goals. Write them down and keep them in front of you. Know what you’re striving for. Record your goals in your day planner and refer to them often. Set a realistic timeline for the accomplishment of each goal.
10. Create a flow chart for each major project. At the top of the page list the goal or the task to be accomplished. Each job can be broken down into individual action steps with deadlines for each task along the way. The idea of a flow chart is to continually break down each step into smaller steps, with each sequence being a more fundamental action than the previous one. A flow chart provides a critical action path that leads directly to your goal.
11. Plan every hour of your workday. Use blocks of time to structure your daily schedule. Give each task the time necessary for completion. Dedicate portions of your day to handle each priority task. If you finish a job early, move right into the next critical task. Take advantage of your peak energy periods to do what’s most important. The more often you use this technique of assigning blocks of time to tasks, the more skilled you’ll become in
estimating time requirements.
12. Prepare well in advance of every meeting. Establish a precise purpose for each meeting. Make people aware of precisely what is expected of each of them. Let them know the agenda beforehand, so each attendee can contribute in a meaningful way. Before the meeting concludes, everyone should be clear of new tasks and responsibilities and who is responsible for each new task. Show all a respect for the value of their time by ending
meetings at the designated time.
13. Get focused. Even if you have 101 different projects on the go, you must prioritize to maximize your efforts. There are plenty of distractions to tempt you. Lots of interesting things to do, places to go, and people to mingle with You can easily spend your time many other ways. But if you want to accomplish and achieve, you simply must stay focused on that which is the most important.
14. Spend 10 minutes at the end of the day preparing for tomorrow. Generate your to-do list and prioritize it, one day in advance. This will save you precious time in the morning. You can dive right into your work without having to make lists and choices. Using this strategy gives you a head start on the day and ensures that you’re working on the most important task always.
15. Determine the appropriate time required for complete, uninterrupted attention to the task at hand. When you simply must bear down and accomplish tasks, you need to work without any disruption so you can get into the flow where results can happen much faster.
16. Break down goals and objectives into basic tasks. It doesn’t matter how large or how small the goal. Any goal may seem like a far-away dream until you break it down into tiny action steps that can be taken immediately. Refining a goal down to it’s most basic task gives you something you can do to today that will move you towards it. If you fail to do this, your goals will only remain distant dreams.
17. Allow for adequate time to do each job, the right way. You want to do it right the first time and shouldn’t have to bear the additional pressure of a rushed deadline. There’s no profit in doing anything a second time.
18. Determine your action steps before you proceed. Take the time to create a brief outline of the project. Break it down, one step at a time. Allow for planning time. One minute of effective planning can save you an hour of undirected focus. A good outline is your road-map to successful accomplishment of the project.
19. Create a master deadlines file. Know where you stand at any time in relation to any on-going project. Be aware of what they are and when they’re due. The purpose of a deadlines file is to help you organize and meet each and every deadline in a timely manner. When you know there’s a deadline looming in the not too distant future, you’re more likely to get to work on the project.
20. Expect the unexpected. Allow for delays whenever your project involves the contribution of others. If you plan for it, you’ll be less frustrated and still be able to meet deadlines. Be clear with others about what’s expected of them and when. But understand this; no one else is as committed to accomplishment as you. Check in periodically, rather than waiting until the last minute. This way you’re more likely to keep your project on track.
21. Set your sites on tiny incremental improvements in daily productivity. Concentrate on a small, but consistent improvement each day. Make the decision to raise your personal output every day by just a few percentage points. This may take careful planning on your part, but the exponential growth in productivity can be huge as you find new ways to become more efficient.
22. Prepare detailed, written plans for larger projects. Create an outline that includes point-form directions for each step along the way. Make your details clear and concise as though you were planning to turn the job over to someone else. If help becomes available, you can utilize additional labor effectively. If you’re doing the whole project yourself, you’ll never have to stop midstream to figure out the next step in the process.
23. Allow time for typical delays that are unavoidable. Give yourself a 10-15% cushion when scheduling your daily activities. By making such a provision ahead of time, you’ll be more effective and less stressed.