An ability to calmly weigh up the options, complete a key tasks and then move on to the next is greatly valued by those around us. The alternative is often not pretty – feeling panicked, paralyzed, and like a rabbit caught in headlights, uncertain which way to run.
Don’t Panic & Stay Calm
Your first instinct might be to start several tasks, eventually leaving all incomplete and feeling frustrated by your lack of progress. When you’ve got too much to do, and not enough time to do it in, it’s tempting (and often more comfortable) to start the day by tackling the small items on your ‘to do’ list. It’s natural to enjoy a quick ‘feel good’ buzz by ticking them off as you go.
This is a big mistake. NOT focusing on the important items means you’re in danger of reaching lunchtime, even the end of the day, having just tidied up your email, responded to unscheduled interruptions from others and maybe attended an irrelevant meeting or two. But you’ve made no headway on the main tasks that deliver the greatest value, and for which you’re really employed to do.
Especially in the current tough & competitive climate, it’s more important than ever to direct your time and energy towards activities that either make money, save money, and or have a the greatest impact on results within the shortest timescale.
If you want to multiply your personal productivity and impact, here’s what you can do immediately;
Write it down
List everything you want to remember to do, in one place. Without an easy way to remember everything you must do, how can you possibly prioritise effectively?
Estimate how long each item on the list will take. Some forecasts will be accurate because you’ve done it before. Others you’ll not know necessarily so be generous in your estimate – it’s better to discover you have some ‘bonus time’ because you find it’s simpler than you expected.
Assess the impact of each item. Ask yourself; ‘Which could either make money, save money or have significant impact for my organization? Which tasks are on the critical path for a larger project?’
The fastest way to increase your impact and productivity is to prioritise effectively, and take action on the highest priorities!
Potential Problem Analysis
This doesn’t mean that these are all huge or complex tasks though – sometimes the ‘Devil is in the Detail’ as they say. Simple items, forgotten, can cause a crisis later. For example, booking travel, hotels or a conference room for an important Client meeting are easy – but the consequences of delay can be significant! These tasks are often the ‘enablers’ that make the ‘big payoff’ activities possible, either by you or a colleague.
Start a Major Task before email
Don’t let email dictate your schedule again today! Choose a few items that are high impact and can be done in the time available today. Do at least one of them as early in the day as you can… even before you open up your email. By tackling those high impact items first, you’ll be able to confidently handle unexpected crises when they occur (and you know they will).
It’s not that the other tasks are irrelevant, just don’t begin with them.