It's About Time
Prioritizing duties builds productivity
Why is it that some days we feel good about what we've been able to accomplish and some days we don't? A lot has to do with how we've spent our time -- whether on important things or on mere busy work.
The key to time management is to focus on priorities -- important activities (and people) for which we are personally responsible, that add significance and meaning to our lives and work, and move us closer to our (and our company's) goals.
One famous story about priorities centers on Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel in the 1920s -- a very busy man who was frustrated because he didn't feel he was getting enough done. A management consultant studied how Schwab operated, then gave him this recommendation: Every morning, make a list of what you need to do. Number the tasks in order of importance, then rewrite the list in order of importance. Begin with No. 1, and no matter how many times you're interrupted, go back to No. 1 until it's finished. Then go on to No. 2.
Mr. Schwab found this simple plan so useful that he got his staff doing it, too. Productivity soared. Aren't those simple instructions?
Too many people:
1) Don't write a To-Do list, thinking that keeping it in their head is fine (it's not).
2) Don't take time to prioritize.
3) Don't bother to rewrite the list in order of importance -- this takes only a minute, but the step-by-step clarity it gives is invaluable!
When clients use a computer program, I have them print out their daily plan so it's clearly visible and they can jot down tasks, phone calls, etc., as they think of them. One client commented to me, "It's weird!" "Weird?" I asked. "Yes, weird," she said, "weird that I'm getting the important things done!" (Now, that's a good type of weird, if you ask me!)
I encourage you to follow the same plan that worked so well for Mr. Schwab.
(Of course, if you're working on task No. 1 and you're interrupted by a more important task or assignment, that then becomes No. 1. But when you're done, you can go back to your original list.)
Remember to be realistic about how much you can reasonably do in a day.
By identifying and focusing on priorities, I hope you enjoy the "weird" feeling of getting important things done!
See you in three weeks!
"It's About Time," by Ruth Wong
, owner of Organization Plus, runs the fourth Friday of each month. Contact her at "It's About Time," care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org