One of the things that I have realized is that simply making a to-do list is not necessarily going to make you more productive. Reason being that although you have a list of things that you know you should be doing, many times you will end up getting sucked into the daily whirlwind. Some days things will go well and you check off (almost) every item on that list. Other times, you get very little done in terms of you priorities listed on that to-do list. There is a simple trick to avoid falling into that trap and to ensure a more consistent result – schedule your tasks.
Okay, I don’t mean setting a due date or even a notification in your task manager. I’m talking about really scheduling specific time slots in your day. This will ensure that you carve out some space in your schedule to get the most important things done. So how does that work? Follow these 6 simple steps that I find very effective:
- At the Beginning of each week or end of the previous week, review your to-do list. Make necessary updates on existing tasks and add new tasks. Remember these tasks must support your overall goals which you have already set (not to be covered in this post).
- Go through each task and set dates so that you know when you need to complete them by.
- Now, open up your calendar tool (I use Google Calendar but use whatever works for you) and select the week view. You will probably already have some meetings scheduled, and you will have some space in between meetings, some time in the morning and in the evening. Start slotting your to-do’s into the spaces that make most sense to you based on the due dates you set in step 2. By doing this, you are reserving time to actually do this task.
- Once you have completed your scheduling, print out the next day only and slot it into your journal/notebook which you use. This will be your daily guide that you should carry at all times with you and which will dictate how your day should be run.
- Stick to the schedule. Don’t let other people’s priorities derail you, unless that thing is also your priority. Life is not that predictable so sometimes we need to adapt, however for the vast majority of the time, there is nothing that urgent. Defend your time, defend your priorities and stay disciplined. Respect each time slot and focus on the allocated task. You will end up getting more done, with better results, than if you try to multitask and work frantically.
- At the end of each day, follow steps 1 to 5 with focus on the current day’s outcome and the next day’s plan. This adjustment of the next day should not take more than 10-15 minutes because you did most of the planning at the beginning of the week.
A weekly review and the daily 10-15 minutes will pay dividends in terms of your productivity. Try it out for a week or two and see the results. Remember to keep your day plan on you at all times and continuously remind yourself what is important by constantly referring to your day plan. You will become really focused and you will get more done. Furthermore, your ability to prioritize and your time management will improved significantly. Try it!
Keep growing and stay healthy!