If you don’t know where you are AND, you don’t know where you’re going, like a rudderless sail boat, you’ll surely end up somewhere. . . but where won’t be up to you. Plan ahead, prepare for contingencies and be preventive. The extraordinary leader will prepare for where they’ll be tomorrow, they’ll have a plan for the next month, next year as well as for two to five years from now. Develop SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Agree upon, Realistic and Time bound) for long term and they will guide us in the short term. What you do every day should be in support of your SMART goals. To be effective learn how to use a “To Do List”. For specific projects learn to use and apply basic project management principles.
For your to do list remember these five things:
1.) Carry your to do list with you at ALL times. This can be a simple spiral flip note pad, steno pad, i-phone or smart phone. I knew a director for a city IT department who required ALL his supervisors to carry a composition notebook with them at all times while at work. Post it notes, napkins, back of envelops are all signs of a disorganized approach. They get misplaced, lost and buried with all the other post its, napkins and envelopes.
2.) If you think it – ink it. If it was important enough to enter you mind, it’s probably important enough to remember and hence be added to your to do list. Hell, if you decide later it’s not important – no harm done, cross it out.
3.) Maintain just one list. I’m mean c’mon let’s face it – how many lives do you really have? Only one. You may have multiple responsibilities – but you still have one life and just 24 hours a day to live that life. Some people use a list for work, one for home, or personal. Too complicated, and way too many opportunities for conflict because something from one list interfered with something on the other list and we don’t catch it. Damn, now you’re late for your daughter’s recital – again. One list, one calendar.
4.) Use your list to plan out your week. Once a week sit down and review your list. From the list identify a date and time that you will accomplish each item on your to do list. When appropriate and possible chunk tasks, emails, phone calls, errands, etc
5.) Review it daily. There will be occasions when you don’t have a specific task scheduled, there will be items on your list that can be accomplished during those times. You will add tasks to your list that may not be able to wait until next week, schedule them for the current week if required.
Like any tool, process, system etc, it will take practice, and persistence. If you fall back into an old habit, simply reengage. Be extraordinary!