Right now, my to do list is so long that I have to scroll down my excel spreadsheet to see it all. It’s a lot to keep track of, and sometimes my days consist of putting out fires and hot jobs that weren’t even on my to do list in the first place. So when I do make it back through all of my unread emails, and add more to my to do list, how do my eyes not gloss over and not get anything done?
ABCs and 123s: Prioritization
I’ve been lucky enough to attend several seminars on time management and one of the ones that has stuck to me this day is the Franklin Covey system. It helps me figure out what I actually have to get done today – because it all can’t be done at once. If something has to be done this week or it could be the end of: a client relationship, a co-worker relationship, or your own job, mark that task with an “A.” (Yes, I’m over-exaggerating, but if you start marking everything “A”s then you’ll still feel as overwhelmed as before this exercise.)
All tasks that you think would be great to get done this week so you could feel ahead of the game, mark with a “B.” All other tasks get a “C.”
The next step I actually have switched up away from F-C, but I’ll share F-C first and then my actual next steps. With F-C, you then mark all of your “A” tasks with the order in which you’ll perform them, and then the Bs and so on. For me, when I’m looking at 10 “A” tasks, I still need some extra steps to prioritize before I know what order I’ll perform them. I first calculate how many minutes I think a project will actually take (5? 15? 120? We’ll get to the 120 minute projects a little later). Then I have another column that I write in Hot, Old, and New. I then use my excel skills and sort the tasks first by the ABC column, then by the Hot, Old, and New column, then by the minutes it will take to do the task. My list now automatically tells me what to do first instead of me wasting time trying to figure out which order to perform my tasks. And speaking of wasting time…
Monkeys or Time Sucks: Real Time Management
There are tasks we have in our jobs that make us wonder, “is there any way to do this smarter?” Well, usually, the answer is “yes.” The act of doing these tasks the hard or old way is sometimes called “Monkeys” in some seminars… I call them time sucks. Either way the time feels wasted.
Where I work we’ve recently killed some monkeys when we realized we were doing way more for a group of clients then we actually should be. We had gotten into some routines that were basically killing (or sucking) our time away from us doing things that would actually move campaigns forward. Luckily, I work with smart, talented, and tired people and we’ve gotten some monkeys off of our backs. I encourage anyone who wants to talk more about tedious processes and procedures and how to reduce them in your lives to hit me up.
Seeing the Trees… and Keeping the Forest in Mind
Now back to those 120 minute tasks. Are you really doing one thing solid for 120 minutes? Or are you doing one thing, then another, then waiting on someone for feedback or answers, then going back to it and doing more of something else, then getting confirmation on something, and then finishing it up? Ah ha! You have just discovered the micro-tasks. Do you ever put off those long projects because you don’t think you have enough uninterrupted time to do them? If you break them up into more pieces that take 15 minutes here, half hour there, etc, then you might realize have the time to at least start working on these projects instead of thinking you have to wait for after hours or a weekend when you’ll have an uninterrupted moment.
What are any helpful tips and tricks you use for your own time management? Hey! I shared with you! And I always like to incorporate new ideas that I learn along the way.