Throughout my career, as both a manager and an entrepreneur, the question of how to fit everything you need to do into your schedule comes up. It’s a question people consistently ask me. So here is my system, one that has evolved for me over the years:
First and foremost, you need to get a handle on the ‘to do’ list. I write everything down – absolutely everything; from everyday tasks, to ideas, to longer terms questions. I used to use a notebook and carry it around with me, but now I use a combination of the Reminders, Notes and Calendar function on my phone. It’s brilliant because they sync with my google calendar, macbook and iPad, and I am always backed up. (By the way, I am assuming here that you already have your goals clear. If not, then that is the very first step, set some goals.)
Next, schedule time every week to plan your week. I usually take either a Friday afternoon, or first thing Monday morning to do this. I prefer to do it on a Friday afternoon, because it’s a time when people are winding down into their weekend, so getting hold of others is difficult. Plus, it clears my mind for the weekend. I have set a plan for the next week, my mind is relieved of having to remember things, and I can enjoy my down-time to the fullest.
So, what do I do in that weekly planning meeting with myself? I look at my goals and I look at the ‘to do’ list. I identify one or two main priority tasks for next week that are essential for the goals to be realized. Then I break them down into smaller tasks and schedule time to do each of them. Then I have another quick scan of the ‘to do’ list, and schedule time to do more of them. There are often lots of things that just have to be done that are not necessarily related to the bigger, longer-term goals.
Every day, then, I review the schedule in the morning. I re-prioritize for the day if necessary, or make any amendments to the schedule. I try to maintain a certain amount of flexibility simply because things change, other peoples’ schedules change, and basically life happens. Then, I get to it. If I find I finish something quicker than expected, or something gets rescheduled, I look at what I can start doing from the following day’s schedule.
Finally, at the end of every day, I review what didn’t get done and reschedule it. If there are any new, urgent items on the ‘to do’ list, I schedule those, otherwise they are left for my next planning meeting.
And that’s it. It’s basically a 4-step process:
1. Get a handle on your ‘to do’ list and write everything down
2. Schedule a weekly planning meeting with yourself
3. Prioritize, chunk it down and schedule it
4. Review daily, first thing and last thing
How do you make sure things get done? What’s your system?
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