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!
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.
When Organizing Paper– group all like items together and file separately.
Sounds funny but think of it this way. You’ll group all your bills that need to be paid together until they’re paid – once paid you can file them in their appropriate folders. Some may go into a “tax related” folder or a “utilities” folder.
Quite a few years back I created a paper flow methodology (yes, I geek out over stuff like this) to help people get a handle on the insane amount of paper that flows into our lives.
We all want to work smarter, faster, better, get more accomplished, be more productive, get the job done quicker, make more money – my head is spinning just thinking about this! But how can we truly accomplish more in less time? Unfortunately there is no quick fix to this age-old problem and the reason begins with our brain.
An article in Psychology Today explains why it takes at least 45 days to train what they call our “mammal brain” to change bad habits to good habits. Our brain is wired to equate bad feelings with survival threats, so that repeating a bad habit becomes easy because it makes you feel good, which stimulates your brain into “action.”
When you have the urge to do something you know is a bad habit, fight that urge and replace it with a more positive action. For example, instead of eating a donut, eat a carrot! That first step of resisting the urge is the hardest to do, but if you can fight it each time and continue for at least 45 days, you will then have built a brand new pathway in your brain that equates the new good habit with survival. Eating the donut won’t make you feel good anymore because of your new brain pathway that now gets stimulated by eating a carrot.
The conclusion here is that time management is self management – you need to know when you are at your optimum performance to complete your tasks and work this into your daily routine. Bad habits that we have allowed to develop over the years won’t just stop by accident. You have to take the time to establish new behaviors and it’s imperative to continue on with your approach, even if you have some setbacks along the way. Always think of the 45 day process needed to develop new pathways in your brain, and soon you will have some better time management habits that your brain will love.
If you are looking for more productivity app ideas then this is the place for you!
I am fortunate enough to be part of a powerful community of Professional Organizers who contribute different topics to Janet Braclay who then pulls tons this vast amount of content together and publishes it monthly.
Many of her monthly editions are close to my heart but this one is especially meaningful because it demonstrates just how much is out there and how overwhelming it can be.
Fortunately, the way she pulls it together gives you the opportunity to read through many people’s opinions/options which often brings us closer to a final decision.
To remain sane in the face of potential app overload follow this format:
1. pick one app
2. install and use ferociously until you know it and integrate it with your life
3. then add another
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’.