Are you going in too many directions at once? Do projects seem to never end? Is your inbox too high to see over? Does your mind race, wondering where to start and what to do next? No worries, everyone has been in the same place. Let’s roll up our sleeves and establish a series of process improvements that will help you become more successful.
Step 1. Track what you are doing. I know, I know, you don’t have time to do what you need to do now, how are you going to find time to keep track of things. Simple-not easy. Break your day down into fifteen minute segments on an spread sheet, create common codes for your activities and track your time. Don’t try to do it all at once. Track a few hours, then a half a day, then a day. Why? Everything we track improves by 10%.
Step 2. Review and reflect. Look at all the things you are doing and ask yourself these questions: What is most important, what is least important? Does it even need to be done? Am I the right person to do it? Can I trade it to someone, delegate it or stop doing it altogether? If you have trouble with these questions, ask someone to help you.
Step 3. Prioritize. Work on first things first. And this changes. If your roof is leaking during a rainstorm you don’t need to worry about painting your walls. Once you stop the roof leaking you can work on other stuff.
Step 4. Just stop doing unnecessary stuff. Very hard at first. Just stop doing one little thing you don’t need to do for a while.
Are prima donnas wreaking havoc in your organization? Watch John Cameron Nip Problem Behaviors in the Bud !
Step 5. Learn to say no. In one of my other blogs I have four different ways to do this. The hardest and most effective is simply-“No.” Next best, “I’d love to, I simply can’t with what I have on my plate.” And say it with the same emotional content as, “Please pass the salt.”
Step 6. Don’t unlearn “No.” Most of the tasks on your task list are self assigned. Don’t give yourself more assignments that you don’t need.
Step 7. Use a tool from project management called work breakdown structure. I write books. These books are sentences, then paragraphs, then pages, then chapters and then books. Look at the big task and see if you can divide it in half. Then look at the tasks and see how you can break them down. Then break that one down. See if there is a certain order to the tasks. Take the first one and then see the next step.
Step 8. Only work on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. Work on one important task at a time. Call it laser-focused tasking it you need a fancy name for it. If you need a break, change to another task, then go back. If you need an acronym, call it LFT. Laser Focused Tasking.
Track, review, prioritize,eliminate, learn to say no, don’t volunteer to take on more stuff that others can do, break big tasks into smaller tasks, and use laser-focused tasking.
- Start tracking what you are doing. Track part of a day-Tuesday for example. Mondays always too crazy, right?
- Give yourself a tracking break for a day, then track all of Wednesday.
- Give yourself another tracking break, then track Friday.
- The following week, track every day.
- The week after that, go to the next process on my list and implement it in the same way.
- Continue this process process until you have gone through all eight steps.