The next time you begin to download that super cool new app to help you “get organized” ask yourself what isn’t working within your existing system that’s inspired you to spend time downloading and learning a new app.
It might be easier to tweak what you already use instead of spending time learning something new. Maybe you’re downloading the new app to avoid doing what needs to be done or you simply want the rush of something fun and new. I get it, I really do because those feelings are way more fun and satisfying (short-term) I think you’ll agree though that taking the upper hand on something that you’ve been avoiding is more satisfying (long-term) than any app could ever be!
Maintaining accountability can be a challenging task if you don’t have an effective follow-up system in place.
Imagine that you ask assign a team member a task and they are to get back to you in one week. If YOU don’t have a follow-up mechanism in place the likely hood of you forgetting what you’ve asked them to do is fairly high, unless you have a good memory. If THEY don’t have a system in place to allocate the time to complete the task and then send you the information you’ve requested by the time specified then you have a team member who is stressing out to meet a deadline ….or because they’ve missed a deadline.
Systems make the cogs run smoothly
And even worse (yes it can get worse), is when you forget and they forget – In the future they won’t feel a strong desire to be accountable to you and your trust begins to decrease. The lack of systems can quite literally interfere with your overall productivity and employee satisfaction.
With a system in place – let’s call it a ‘delegation process’ for you and ‘calendar and task management management’ for them – you can both trust each other!
If parts of this sound familiar to your work flow then it’s a perfect time to sit down and have a conversation with your team member(s) about implementing executive skills into your daily workflow: delegating tasks and tracking them plus calendar and time management.
We use calendars so we know what we need to show up for but where do you keep track of all the tasks….. by tasks I mean the tiny action items that require time to execute but don’t necessarily get scheduled into the calendar?
A task can be a call you need to make tomorrow or in one month’s time. Tasks can be the supplies you need to pick up for the office, a course you need to register for or the new toothbrush you need from the drug store.
The rule of thumb is to keep all similar tasks together and then complete them together. If you have 5 follow-up phone calls to make and each will take approximately 10 minutes then you will need to schedule one hour into your calendar to make those calls.
If you have three errands that need to be done – dry cleaners, grocers and drug store then you’ll want to look at your calendar to see when it’s convenient to do those errands. While your reviewing your calendar may notice that you’ll be driving by the dry
Sample Task List
cleaners on Wednesday – now you just need to schedule it in and then stop at the dry cleaners on Wednesday.
A calendar for all of our appointments and a list of ALL tasks that need to be done are essential procedures so that we can free up our minds and be confident that everything that needs to get done is accounted for.
You might want to check this app out if you are used to paper to-do lists divide the page into four sections -where you would group tasks based on if you needed to do them today, next, or later……
“(Later got two sections to hold all the stuff I didn’t want to forget but couldn’t do right away.) Paper is great for this, because rewriting the lists every day made me think harder about how many things I was mentally committing to do—and purge or delegate as many as I could.”
Eisenpower brings this quadrant-style task management to your Mac.
Tasks – Tasks are all the little things that need to be done that roll around in our heads and possibly surface to remind us while we are in the shower or, worse yet, sleeping.
When the vast amount of ‘things to do’ overwhelms us we sit and cathartically write it all down feel somewhat satisfied that we’ve captured all those thoughts on paper. We may actually take action on some of the items but in about 2 weeks it starts to build up again.
This is the pendulum theory for task management. We go from one extreme (no list) to another (everything on a huge list) when the best solution is middle ground – having a system to track all the task that we trust and can rely on so that we can release our brain from remembering the minutia to allowing our brain to think, grow and rest!
You need to book a dentist appointment in 6 months or you need to follow up with a potential lead in 5 weeks…. you don’t actually keep those reminders rolling around in your head do you?
It’s really common that once people find out what I do they want to share the tools they use that work but more often than not people are hoping that I can tell them about the perfect solution – the one thing that will work and solve all problems, so to speak. It seems like everyone is searching for the one thing, that perfect ‘tool’ that will up their productivity quotient.
The challenge for me is that I can’t just say “hey Bob – use this and every thing will be perfect” because it’s just not that easy. Things must be considered – like work style, technology vs paper, how and where a person works, how information is processed and tracked, who is involved in the process and what the overall objectives are. In a nut shell we assess: work flow, paper flow, projects and personality then we blend in existing use of executive skills – task, time and calendar management.
So, if you are reading this blog hoping to find the perfect tool then I suggest you call us and conduct an Insight Session to start.
If your PC based and using Outlook – set up your To-Do bar.
Here are a few task tips for everyone:
– tasks work best when they have a start date and end date
– start a task with an action verb: call, email, send, read
– include time required if it’s not a simple action
– the task itself is only the ‘next step’
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how and what you are ‘tasking’.