“Yeah, I’ll call you next Monday. I’m sure of it.” “Of course I won’t forget that. Tuesday I’ll email you some dates for our coffee date.” “Are you still thinking about working out that quotation on Wednesday?” Note to self: on Thursday I really need to prepare the online store project, then I move my mailbox and LinkedIn requests to Friday.
It doesn’t deserve a beauty prize
The spontaneous commitments that we make and that spontaneously fill in our “TO-DO” lists. For me the hands of the clock turn too fast now and then. You blink your eyes three times and off you go, that was another (working) week over. All these promises fill my head, until I overflow. The result? I completely lose the overview and end up in a kind of zombie phase in which I mainly think about what still has to be done. Deadly for my productivity!
I am not the only one who regularly struggles with this. What tasks do you still have on your “TO-DO” list at the end of 2018? Do you get on your toes because you don’t see things through? Is your attention already wandering to new plans for the second half of 2019, while there are still postponement cases open from two weeks ago?
How liberating is it if you can let go of these loose ends! You have a complete overview of what to do when! Read the tips and turn your TO-DO list into a TAA-DAAAA list!
From a TO-DO list to a TAA-DAAAA list
Tip 1: Whatever gives you attention…
Pay attention to your planning. A day only has 24 hours and of that you will lose a few hours: sleeping, eating, chatting, showering and waiting. There are also things that you didn’t expect, such as requests for information or quotations.
Every Friday, draw up your weekly plan for the following week. Then your head won’t overflow during the weekend. And update your planning for the next day on a daily basis.
Tip 2: Use a planning tool that suits you
There are many tools on the market. Think of Google Task, Trello, Evernote, Outlook or Todoist. Excel can also be used as a planner. Whatever you choose, choose one system that works for you and use it until you are used to spending time on planning. Activities are bound to fall between two stools if you use multiple systems interchangeably.
Remember: planning is a tool and is always on the move. Things come and go and things fall off. So choose a system that makes it easy to move deadlines.
Tip 3: Long live the TO-DO list, VINK!
I write everything down in my paper diary. Call it old-fashioned, I swear. Buying such a large-format diary with virgin white pages every year is a moment of happiness, which feels like a new beginning. In busy times I love to pick up a notebook and write down all my “TO-DO” promises. With this I bring myself into the do-mode, because I know what I want to get done that day.
And say for yourself, how wonderful it is to put a thick line on your “TO-DO” list. Done! Next.
Tip 4: Follow your own rhythm and be realistic
For some people it works very well to continue to hangman a whole day or even night until something is done. For the other it works better to do a little bit every day for a week. There is no best way to work, except your way!
Make sure you organise your work in the way that suits you best. Plan your hardest work at your best moments. Then you can make the most of your productivity. And don’t forget to be realistic. An 8-hour workday doesn’t mean that you’ll be working 8 hours productively.
A handy time management phrase is: should I do this now? This way you determine whether the task belongs to you or whether you should delegate or outsource it (I have to). You set a priority (this). You determine the corresponding deadline (now). And last but not least, you determine whether the activity is meaningful and contributes (do) to your goal.
Tip 5: Avoid distractions
Pling: Facebook, pling: WhatsApp, pling: LinkedIn message, pling: a new e-mail. Turn off all notifications and allow yourself to work undisturbed. Do you get new ideas or ideas? Write them down on a notebook or in your notebook system and first finish the task you started.
This way, you will get the most out of your time. Do your thoughts continue to wander? Then take a break; do a dance or take a short walk.
Tip 6: Work with fixed half-day sessions
Quotes, questions, coffee arrangements, e-mail, phone calls. These are all things that are difficult or impossible to plan. Simply because you don’t know in advance what’s coming at you.
In your working week, book fixed parts for these kinds of activities. For example, by reserving the Friday afternoon for coffee appointments, checking your e-mail three times a day and reserving an hour daily for any callback activities.
Tip 7: Marketing activities
Blogging, social media, newsletters, interviews, events, workshops and networks. Determine in advance how much time you want to spend on this and draw up annual plans. The annual plan helps you to see the bigger picture. So that you promote events on time and link your blog to a product or service. Another advantage is that you only think about the subjects once. Not only does this work efficiently, it also means that you don’t have to think about what you’re going to blog about every month.
In order to properly plan a task, you divide the activity into tasks. Blogging, for example, can be subdivided into:
Research time (Pocket is a great tool for gathering information).
– Writing time of your concept blog.
– Planning and reading your blog.
– Making it SEO-proof.
– Placing on your website.
– Writing meta tags.
– Search and/or edit
Summary and my most important advice to you
Planning is looking ahead. It gives you the opportunity to keep your promises without stress. You have determined in advance what you do or don’t have time for. So it also makes it easier to say no in time.
Planning is about bringing focus. You can’t do everything at once, so you have to make choices. That starts with a good annual plan, in which you define your 3 most important goals for a year. In your monthly and weekly planning this helps you to make choices. Doesn’t the activity contribute to your main goals? Then that activity is not part of your planning!
Planning is difficult, and it is my kryptonite daily, I struggle with it and make better systems to be better at it and also to not become an unproductive YES MAN. It requires discipline and attention. By introducing weekly structures (fixed moments for tasks) you make it easier for yourself. Discover how much productive time you have on average in a day by registering. And keep track of how long tasks really take. In reality, the push of a button sometimes takes more than 2 seconds.
Lastly, outsource anything you can to a One-Stop Shop Online Communications Agency like ours, we know how to prioritize everything so everything makes sense to you, your clients and your coleagues so you can do what you do, and be better at what you do in time.