Making lists may or may not be your thing. Either way the ‘to-do’ list works if time management is your concern. If you create a routine of working on the list it will become a natural part of your day. It will help you to prioritize accordingly and how you do that will be up to you. After all the details are worked out be sure to allot time to each item. Time management not only helps you to be a better employee but it also helps you to avoid unnecessary stress if you stick to the tools you employ.
A “to-do” list will work if you stick to it, it takes discipline. Every night before you leave work take 10 – 15 minutes to create a general ‘to-do’ list. Include enough detail to jog your memory, for example, write “6 phone calls” instead of “1. Call Mr. Lukken to re-schedule Tuesday’s meeting, 2. Call consultant to re-do pages 16 – 25, 3. Call...”. The important thing is to write what you know will help you to remember.
The next morning, categorize the items accordingly such as phone calls, meetings, and correspondence. Now you can go into as much detail as possible with the names, phone numbers or file numbers. Writing down the details ensures that the required information will be at your fingertips, therefore under phone calls you might put, “call consultant about re-doing pages 16 – 25 (555) 555-5555 by 10:00 am”. The details will also help you decide how to prioritize. Although there are a variety of methodologies for prioritizing such as the ‘urgency method’ and ‘difficulty level’ feel free to use whatever works for you.
Urgency method means you take each item to determine its urgency. Does it have a deadline of sorts? Does someone else need the information? The difficulty level dictates that you ascend or descend according to the level of difficulty or time consumption. You may want to complete tasks that do not take too much brain power or time or you may want to start with the more difficult tasks to get them out of the way.
Once everything is prioritized the next step is to allot time to your activities. You can be as specific as you want, but you must also be flexible, you may be unable to complete a task due to something beyond your control. The consultant may be in transit and you cannot speak to her until the next day. Allotting time can also be done in percentages; spending 10% of the day making phone calls. Regardless of how you make your decisions be sure to experiment until you find a method that works best for you.
Developing your ‘to-do’ list into your daily work plan should not take up any more than half hour. If you wrote out a general list the night before then it’s just a matter of filling in the details and prioritizing. How you prioritize is up to you, you can use the urgency or difficulty methods or make up one of your own. Once you have allotted the amount of time each item will take you write it all out and you have daily work plan. The first few may take a little more time but once you’ve integrated into your daily routine it will become second nature. Once it becomes doable you can begin to create weekly work plans, monthly or yearly plans but for now stick to today.