50 Business Challenges: No. 23 The To Do List

Many of us try to organise ourselves day by means of a to do list. Yet all too often we cram it with things to do, most of which will still be on the list at the end of the day. By the time these items have appeared for a few days, enthusiasm wanes, and we become used to their not being completed.

Making a list is a good idea: for one thing, it requires a review of what needs to be done, and putting items in order of priority. As always, remember the important, not just the urgent.

How you make the list (as I have learned from bitter experience, and training) makes a difference.

Recognise how little time is actually at your discretion. Meetings, colleague and customer demands need to be factored in. Do not try to do too much – it is better to complete one thing than part do many.

Introduce a Power Hour for those important long term projects, so that you devote 20 minutes or so to each, preferably at a regular time.

Group all those short items, such a chasing phone, calls together into half an hour or so (at least those that you cannot delegate to someone else).

Limit the rest of your list to 3 or 4 items where you can actually make progress. Add new items tomorrow as appropriate.

By ensuring that your list is not overloaded, you will become much more effective.

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