Recently I have been running Smart Teams workshops for several clients who have previously attended our Smart Work personal productivity training.
It’s always insightful to revisit clients at some stage after they have done the initial training, because even though the Smart Work system is simple and practical, it’s easy to slip back into old ways of doing things, especially when you are busy.
The most common slip up I see is a task list that has become unfocused. This is what I call a ‘fuzzy’ task list. Often people commit to using the task function in MS Outlook as a result of our training. They start scheduling their tasks and priorities into their new system and achieve more focus and control over their work.
But over time, tasks that aren’t completed roll forward to tomorrow and turn red (meaning overdue in MS Outlook). After a few days you end up with a big long list of red tasks that no longer represents what you actually need to get done today. This is the number one reason why people give up using tasks and go back to their old ways of doing things.
There is a very simple fix for this implementation problem; Always start your day with some daily planning, which includes tidying up your task list.
I recommend making the first few minutes of your day a time when you get focused for the day ahead. Take a few minutes to review ALL the tasks in today’s list, especially the red ones. Which are the tasks you will commit to doing today, and which ones are not a priority for today? Anything that is not critical or achievable should be moved out of your ‘today’ task list. Either reschedule them forward, kill them, or delegate them to someone else.
By the end of your daily planning, your task list should be a relevant, focused, achievable plan of action. Of course, it will change as new things come in, but that is life for all of us. Better to start your day with a focused plan rather than a fuzzy list.