Greg has a lot to do.
He begins each day with a huge task list, determined to complete as many things as he can. He gets through a lot but at the end of each day there are always a few tasks that don’t get done, usually the ones that take a little longer – so they’re moved onto the next day and become a little more urgent.
Greg is playing the volume game; he’s judging his performance by how many tasks he can do. While he feels like he’s getting a lot done, he’s constantly stressed out by the high number of urgent tasks that interrupt his day.
If Greg approached his task list in a different way, he’d find that while initially he might not get as many tasks done, he’d end up with a smaller number of urgent tasks, more time and less stress.
So how do you approach your tasks differently? Try to identify tasks that have specific benefits – these are the important ones:
• Identify if a task is something that will save you time in the future. An example is taking the time to work out proper estimates for a project – if you estimate poorly, the impact on your time in the future will be much greater than the time you spend estimating.
• Identify if a task will increase your understanding of a project – this will help you avoid a crisis in the future, which is always time-consuming. For example, forming a deep understanding of a new project today may result in a question which, if asked now, will allow you to decide a course of action that will avoid a problem in the future.
• Identify if a task is directly related to generating income, either for your company or for yourself.
• Identify if a task builds a relationship with a customer – relationships lead to business.
• Identify if a task builds a personal relationship – personal relationships improve the quality of your life.
• Identify if the task improves your ability to enjoy life – tasks involving health, personal financial security and stress reduction.
You’ll find the number of important tasks is quite small and on most days, you’ll have time for other tasks. And if you make sure you get the important things done, you’ll have less urgent tasks, you’ll be more in control and ultimately you’ll be more successful.
To do more, you have to do less
Getting the jump on your day – identifying your key activities
What you need to get productive right now
Effective project managers live in the future
How to take action – the key to productivity