When Your To Do List is Longer Than Your Day

Jean Charles

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Time management is not about managing time. Time is a constant, it does not change. The only thing we can change is the management of ourselves. So, if it’s the end of the day and you’re only halfway through your To-Do list, it is time to upgrade your self-management skills.

Are you being efficient as opposed to being effective? People typically do the small easy tasks first but often run out of time to then handle the larger more difficult and maybe the more important ones. Are there some days that you get through your list and feel like you haven’t been productive, and other days when you complete only 2 or 3 items and feel very accomplished? Those 2 or 3 things were probably the important ones.

The important tasks are the ones that move you toward your goals; these should be your priorities. The question to ask yourself is “What is the most effective thing I can do right now?"

As you go through your list, you have choices of what actions to take with each item. One system that works well is the 3D system – Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it. The Do items are those important priority items – your priority. Do them now. Do them completely. Completion is important, as most people spend major amounts of time and energy on things that were not previously handled completely. Everything from a cluttered office to damaged relationships are examples of incompletions. (How much time is spent looking for misplaced papers in that clutter, or thinking about what you should have said to that person?). If these things had been taken care of completely in the past, a lot more time and energy would be available to handle your priority items in the present. Awareness of what is not complete in your life is a good first step to becoming more effective.

You can choose to delegate some of the important items on your list, when you know that someone else can do them as well or better than you can. Know your strengths and surround yourself with people who are strong in your weaker areas; then delegate. There are people who have difficulty delegating because they want to rescue everyone, not burden them, and handle everything themselves. This can be exhausting for them and does not honor the talents of others in the organization. It is a good idea, if possible, to replicate yourself in the organization. Train someone to fill your shoes before it is needed. You can then delegate to this person without having to manage them.

You can delegate to yourself until a later time, but make it a specific allotted time. Don’t just move the item to your next list, then the next, etc.

Outsourcing is also a great way to delegate when there is a project that requires special knowledge or resources and there is no appropriate expert within the organization. When a project is outsourced, you no longer own the responsibility for it and can move on to other tasks.

The last action choice for an item on your list is to dump it. These are the items that may be reappearing continuously, not getting done, and it doesn’t seem to matter. They may be things you are doing because “it’s always been done that way". If you know a better way, use it. If you simply stop doing some of these things, see if it is noticed. You might be surprised.

Definite dump items are junk snail mail and unsolicited email. The 3D system works very well with email. Respond immediately, delegate it to yourself if you need to work on a response, or hit the delete key.

Another thing, which must be dumped from your day in order for you to be effective, is interruptions. Inform those around you when you are not to be disturbed, use voice mail, set aside time to receive and return phone calls, etc. Plan to have unscheduled time daily to handle any unexpected important items that may arise.

So, the not so secret keys to handling your To Do list are – keep your goals in mind, be effective vs. efficient, set up systems that work for you, do complete work, and get rid of time and energy drains. Take time at the end of each day to review and ask yourself if you are you closer to your goals.

Jean Charles is a business coach who mentors entrepreneurs, Couplepreneurs™, and independent practitioners to design their ideal business, create prosperity, and live their just right lives. She can be reached at jean@justrightcoach.com or on the web http://www.justrightcoach.com/ . Check out her blog at http://www.prosperitythroughpartnership.blogspot.com .


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