- Know how you currently use your time
The simplest way to do this is to keep a log of what you do each day for a period time, let us say 1 week. Keep record of the task, start time, finish time and quality of end result. By keeping a log, you will become more aware of stress times and down times and will be better equipped to plan your tasks. With the log, you can identify time wasters or tasks that add no value. You will know how much time a particular task took; this will help you in future to estimate time for a similar task.
- Plan the night before Sit down the night before and plan for the next day. Planning in the night gives your subconscious mind clear instructions of what is expected tomorrow. Remember 6P is “proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” Failing to plan is planning to fail. A major benefit of preparing your to do list the night before and writing down the tasks is that this exercise clears your mind and enables you sleep more soundly. This also mentally prepares you for the next day.
- Write down your plan with a pen on a paper
Steven Covey says. “Writing is a psycho-neuromuscular activity and literally imprints the brain.” Writing your goals or action items down gives your subconscious mind a clear target. Writing helps you memorize it because you can see with your eyes. Writing also helps you to clarify your action items and lastly, writing creates space in our brain to think, otherwise the brain is overwhelmed with thoughts and information.
- Prioritize your to do list After listing the tasks, categorize them, set priorities and then work from a prioritized to-do list. In the last article, I shared the time management matrix to prioritize. In this article, I will share 2 other methods of prioritization. First method is ABCDE method of prioritization (by Brian Tracey) and second is 80-20 rule.
ABCDE method of prioritization
- Place one of the letters from ABCDE in the margin before each of the tasks on your list before you begin.
- “A” stands for “very important;” something you must do. There can be serious negative consequences if you do not do it.
- “B” stands for “important;” something you should do. This is not as important as your ‘A’ tasks. There are only minor negative consequences if it is not completed.
- “C” stands for things that are “nice to do;” but which are not as important as ‘A’ or ‘B,’ tasks. There are no negative consequences for not completing it.
- “D” stands for “delegate.” You can assign this task to someone else who can do the job instead of you.
- “E” stands for “eliminate, whenever possible.” You should eliminate every single activity you possibly can, to free up your time.
When you use the A-B-C-D-E method, you can very easily sort out what is important and unimportant. This then will focus your time and attention on those items on your list that are most essential for you to do.
The 80/20 rules states that 20% percent of your tasks are probably going to have 80% of the impact. By prioritizing the tasks that have the most impact first, you can let other tasks that may not be as impactful fall by the wayside or simply delegate them to someone else.
One way to determine the impact of your tasks is to think about how many people one task or project will affect.
Let’s say you are a marketer, and one of the tasks on your to-do list is to make a video that will reach 100 people, but the other task is to build a well-constructed newsletter that will be sent to a 10 lakh users. Which task will have the most impact? Because the newsletter will have an overall greater marketing impact, prioritizing it over the video makes the most sense according to the 80/20 rule.
5. Energy management (peak performance window)
All of us have peak performance times in the day, when we have most energy, most concentration and most creativity. Your “peak time” is your most productive time. For many people that time tends to be in the morning. By scheduling your most important tasks for the times you are at your best, you will be able to get them done faster and more effectively.
In the next article, I will share remaining strategies for personal productivity improvement.