How many tasks did you accomplish on your To Do list yesterday? If you are like most people, you didn’t come close to getting it all done. In fact, one study shows the average percent of uncompleted items on a typical daily list is around 41%. So how do you successfully seize the day and conquer the inevitable distractions? Here are 3 ideas to apply to your daily routine:
Plan the Day Before – At the end of each work day, take a moment to look at your calendar and create a schedule for the next day. Set out blocks of time for your meetings as well as your tasks that need to be accomplished. Draw one square in which to write the names of all the people you need to contact either by email, text or phone call. As for places you will need to go, consider the approximate time you will need to leave in order to get there on time, and take a moment to set the alarm on your phone for those times. When you plan the day before, you will sleep better and wake up the next morning ready to work and ready to go.
Circle Three Priorities – As you look at your schedule, circle three tasks or activities that are top priorities. I typically circle them with a bright yellow highlighter, so they stand out. Your top priorities should include those things that must be done before the day passes or meetings that are essential to your work. Take another pen and underline the items on your list that are important and need attention, but if push came to shove, they could be finished the next day. As you highlight your priorities you can keep a steady focus on them throughout your day to ensure that you move toward completing them. You will feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you see that your priorities have been achieved each day.
Create Blocks of Time – Generally speaking, when we have a set amount of time to get a task accomplished, we tend to narrow our focus, ignore distractions and get the job done. Consider the concept of the power of a half-hour. When you designate 30 minutes to a task, and keep your focus on what needs to get done, you are much more likely to get it completed. I often set a timer to help me stay on track. Blocking off short parcels of time helps you set aside emails and phone calls and other interruptions in order to finish. If you need a little more time, then certainly you can add to it, but you will be surprised how much can be done as you concentrate for a half hour. Between each 30-minute segment, take a break or breather. Of course, stay flexible and leave a cushion between each time-block to deal with unexpected tasks that may arise.
Apply these three simple ideas to your daily routine and you will be encouraged by the results. It is possible to conquer your To Do list, it just takes a few new habits to make a positive difference.