Don't just prioritise, reprioritise
If you have a task list at hand with a million things and do not know where to begin, here's what you can do.
We have all heard that making a "to do" list is the best way to get your tasks at hand done. In spite of this, do you find yourself asking at the end of a day, or worse still, a whole week about what has really been your productive output? If you have been in this position in the past, or are battling such a situation currently, here's help at hand. The trick to increasing your productivity is not just prioritizing, but re-prioritising, somewhat ruthlessly, if you will. Here are some hack to get things done:
Use the priority matrix:
If you have a task list at hand with a million things and do not know where to begin, here's what you can do. Use the "priority matrix" as the American author and successful business tycoon Stephen Covey mentions in his popular book "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People".
|IMPORTANT||Quadrant I Urgent and Important||Quadrant II Not Urgent and Important|
|NOT IMPORTANT||Quadrant III Urgent and Not Important||Quadrant IV Not urgent and not important|
Applying this matrix to your task list will easily show you which are the tasks that require immediate attention and keep you from missing deadlines. The tasks that fall under the second and third quadrant are perhaps the value added activities such as learning a new skill or exercising or holding a meeting with your team members, and they require your attention after the urgent tasks are completed. Needless to say, the not urgent and not important tasks must be avoided as much as possible or better still struck off from your task list.
Make a to do list for a single day
A crucial mistake that most of us make while jotting out our tasks is putting too many things on them without putting definite timelines. The best thing to do therefore is to reprioritize and make a to do list only for the day. Before you get to bed on a particular day you must know exactly what are your tasks the next day. Do not try to squeeze in too much if you think you can't get them done.
The other golden rule of being productive is delegation. Keep your co-workers or subordinates in the loop and see how much of your workload they can share. Of course, this works both ways. When you are not so busy on a particular day of the week, make sure you ask them if they could use your help as well.
Pick a single focus of the day
Now that you have narrowed down your task list to a single day and have delegated some of your work that you think your co-workers or subordinates can handle, choose a single focus for the day. It may either be a single big task or a theme that involves several small tasks such as "increase sales". Focussing on a single task or a theme is another way to re-prioritise that will serve as a reminder for you if you are getting distracted and help you stay on track.
If you are getting the feeling that you are not being productive enough or if the walls are closing in on you, the time has come to re-prioritise your task list. What is good about the tips we have shared with you above is that they can be used anywhere, be it at home or at work. Once you really understand what your immediate tasks at hand are you can be smarter with your work schedules and will not have to think twice before you take on the next big project! What's more, with your productivity increasing manifold, you will have the time and energy to do things for yourself that you have perhaps been putting away for the longest time!
Are you the master of your time? Find out.
Here's how you can become the Master of your time:
1. Do you have and create a false sense of "free" time? When you or others look at your calendar, the time which is not blocked for formal meetings is considered as free. The question is - are you really free during that time? Is it not the time you get to do your own work? Solution: Turn the tables. Be focused. Do your work first and then help others! Read more.
2. What about work which others ask you to do? These requests land in your inbox and usually there is a deadline. What do we do in such cases? Just use the good old Flag. Read More.
3. Don't waste time on Inbox and Calendar. Tasks folder is your best friend! Read More.