The card system
… is what’s working for me at the moment. This is how it works:
- In the morning, first thing (or after the meeting that you do first thing), write all the things you have to do on an index card. This should be done with reference to your strategic plan (at work) or to the important stuff you should remember (in the rest of life). I have two lists on mine: “Work” and “Personal.”
- Prioritise the tasks, if only for work. Give the main ones a number order, or write down what time you’ll do them. Most importantly, choose the one or two that you absolutely will achieve today.
- Keep list with you at all times and refer to it throughout the day.
- Do the tasks. Chase them down and eliminate them.
- In moments of slack, use your heightened awareness of the things you want to get done to help you avoid flicking through the news etc – do a quick task instead.*
- At the end of the day, make tomorrow’s card: copy any incomplete jobs from today that you still need to get done onto a new card.
Not rocket science, but helpful.
*In my experience this knocking off of little tasks that otherwise heap up – at work it’s small decisions and emails, at home it’s folding socks and putting them away – is one of the major benefits of keeping a to do list on hand and up-to-date. These small tasks – done daily – ‘accumulate by a magnitude’.
I love this thanks Stu. I have a variant I use. So every term I set out priorities and plan out what I need to do in which month. I then allocate time each month to that task – and say whether I want to finish it or where I want to progress it to. That means each day I allocate 8 hours of work to that day. I might allocate 4 hour of writing in the morning if I need to do that (mornings for other focussed work as that’s how my brain works). I try and push meetings to one day if I can. If something has to carry over or I miscalculated, which happens often, I do what you suggest and carry the task over.
What I can’t map so easily is the small incremental things to move other projects on. I have to ‘see’ that in front of me in some way to track this – some people use project management tools but I haven’t found that especially helpful tbh.