I have been committed to “To Do Lists” as a productivity tool ever since my busy days in high school. It was right up there in importance over time with saving my pennies and being nice to a girl before asking her out on a date… I must admit that this supplemental step has shown much merit.
Technology author Dave Johnson reported on a Harvard Business Review finding on an alternative to traditional “To Do Lists”…it is leveraging more aggressively your calendar tool i.e. Outlook. It is simple but very dramatic if implemented. Here is how it works.
My top 3 prioritized activities due today:
* Complete work Project Plan
* Call Mom
* Build Financial Plan
Like most of you, I am extremely busy. I would review this list regularly and update several times daily. The risk here is that I need to ensure I convert the priorities to results. The how is discovered on a daily basis. But the missing link here is actually scheduling specific times to complete everything you have prioritized.
Alternative Approach: Schedule the Priorities in Your Calendar (NOW)
* Complete Work Plan
(Slotted between 9:00-10:00 AM…reschedule a less critical meeting to later in the week)
* Call Mom
(Scheduled during lunch..moved lunch 1:1 out by 15 minutes…she’s retired with more flexibility than I have!!)
* Start Developing Personal Financial Plan
(Scheduled for 8:00-9:00 PM…Many people only schedule activities for work..add your personal requirements too!)
Don’t just list your priorities, calendar them in… To the best of your ability, do not schedule over these time slots. If you must, review your calendar and adjust as needed to slot new times into it. I have followed this approach and it has improved my productivity in quite a significant way. If it is not on your calendar, your risk of closure increases dramatically. You might have already experienced this pitfall of strict reliance on “To Do” lists.
Action of the Day: Review your top 2 priorities over the next 24 hours. Go to your calendar(whether through a planner, outlook or other scheduling tool) and reserve specific time slots to work on them. To the best of your ability, do not allow anything to conflict with those time slots or ensure you find alternative times that day when conflicts arise. If you do not maintain a calendar to organize your time, now is the time to start (you can find free templates on the internet including one from Microsoft).
Quote of the Day: “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose”…Thomas Edison