I received a question from one of you this week. JW writes: I am a true list maker. I make a “to do” list every single day. Only problem is that I use several different types of note pads and don’t throw the list away each day. (some days I’m better than others). Therefore, I have various lists on kitchen counter, desk in my office, night table. Then I spend a few minutes each day merging the lists, etc. I realize it’s a definite waste of time and was wondering if there are others like me.
The Productive Leader Blog
As we go through our busy days we are pulled in many directions. Deciding what actually priorities are, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Is it working on the project plan for your team/boss/self? Is it attending another meeting? Is it making time to exercise or getting to your child’s concert on time? Is it choosing to answer the phone or the emails? It is truly hard to decide.
Interestingly enough, the word DECIDE comes from the Latin word decidere, which literally means to cut off (from de- + caedere to cut). When you decide to do one thing you are CUTTING OFF the opportunity to do something else. No wonder this is difficult!
To help you DECIDE what your priorities are, I recommend creating a filter list. Run your options through the filter and see which items are big enough to not fall through. Here is the criteria I use for my “Must Do Today” filter:
If I don’t do it today:
If you’ve subscribed to my weekly tips for awhile you’ll know that I try to get away a couple of times a year for a few days of retreat. I’ve just returned from Kripalu (http://kripalu.org/about_us/435/) and feel much more clear and focused. I’m pretty sure that this quiet week of learning and renewal is one of the best things I do to keep myself productive.
With the numerous demands in today’s crazy-busy world, good productivity practices focus on doing the work that matters most. But, when our minds are full, and bodies exhausted, it’s hard to think clearly enough to know which exactly those things are. Quite and reflection helps me to identify where in-fact my priorities lay. It helps me identify what my most important work is.
Imagine every email is a phone message you had to return! I suspect that means you are spending your entire work day on the phone and not getting to your important work. If you put your email responses through the same filter as your phone call responses you’ll reduce the volume and focus on the most important messages.
- You may think it’s polite to answer each and every email – but it’s not. Email etiquette suggests you only respond when useful.
- When you see a big list of people who are copied, it’s ok to take people out of the response list if your response isn’t relevant to them.
- It’s ok to decide that an email string isn’t a top priority and delete it. Remember, only you are in control of how you use and manage your time.
And don’t forget that your email inbox isn’t a storage location. If you don’t need the email anymore, file it, or even better – DELETE it!
Every once in a while I come across a product that is perfect.
I’ve been carrying the Incipio STOWAWAY® for about the past 6 months. I have had more people comment and get excited about this phone case than anything I’ve owned (that I can remember.) Practically everyone who sees it asks about it and says they want one.
This is a wallet case for my iPhone that holds 3 credit cards (Business Credit Card, Family Credit Card, and Personal Credit Card). It does add a bit of thickness to the case, but that doesn’t bother me. I typically carry my cell phone in my jeans back pocket or in my handbag. The thickness doesn’t affect either of these situations. It is great to have what I need when I need it.
A friend mentioned that her (big) company recently has added Instant Messaging to their IT system. She says, “now, while I’m on the phone, or in a meeting, in addition to having to check emails, I have these IM’s popping up at me.” WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???!!!!???!!!!
A study by Microsoft found that it takes an employee an average of 15 minutes to return their attention back to the previous task when distracted by email, instant message, etc.
I know, you think you are special and while you can accept that multi-tasking doesn’t work for everyone else, you can still manage it. I suspect that you can’t. [Also understand that there is a difference between multi-tasking and a white-noise activity. Some people need to doodle, color, play solitaire, etc. to stay focused.]
The secret about multi-tasking? The secret is that you can’t multi-task. The brain can only do one thing at a time. You may a fast “task-switcher,” which means you can move from task to task quickly, but the brain is only capable of holding one thought process at a time! Bummer.
What can you do to get more done? Try these tips for a week – then assess: