In time management it’s extremely difficult to know what to do if you haven’t written your tasks down. However, even though they write their tasks down, many people still find it difficult to work from their To Do list simply because of the sheer number of tasks they see grouped together, the list looks overwhelming!
It’s extremely important to have a list that is manageable and that allows you to see task type at a glance. This way you don’t waste time looking for a task to fit the time and energy window you have.
Grouping tasks into categories is esssential. Decide the headings that work for you in line with your type of work and your typical daily work pattern. Five or six categories is ideal.
To give you an idea of how this might work, the categories on my daily to do list look like this:
- Sales tasks
- Social Media marketing tasks
- Other to do’s
- Small tasks
- Personal to do’s
- Telephone calls
A small task category is very useful as you can immediately turn to this list if you find you only have a 5-10 munute time window to fill.
Also, group your telephone calls together to take advantage of the time when you are not at your computer but are able to make calls from your mobile.
Within my daily to do list I then use a priority coding system such as ABC using A1, A2, A3, B1, B2 etc to keep me focused for the rest of the day. A few minutes invested first thing in the morning prioritising my daily tasks saves lots of mental energy later in the day and avoids the danger of only selecting those tasks that I feel like doing at any moment – a sure recipe for procrastination!
One final word on the organisation of tasks. In order to feel you’re moving forward, it’s important to be realistic about what you put on your DAILY to do list. Of course it may well be that we don’t complete everything that day as unexpected things often crop up, – which prompts another time management tip – always schedule time in your day to deal with the unexpected, but if you put ALL your tasks on one list regardless of timing, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. The tip here is to have a daily list, a weekly list, a monthly list and finally a list with no time limit. Progressively bring your tasks forward on each list as deadlines approach.
Whenever I’m talking about time management I always stress that it’s about SELF management. At the end of the day you have to find the system that works for you, but… you DO have to have a system and be disciplined around it, there’s no getting away from that.
Just one final word, be flexible about this as well. Experiment to find the category tasks that work for you and then constantly update them as you and your job change.