If you have a busy job, there are always a ton of tasks to be completed. You can just arrive at your desk first thing in the morning, go like crazy all day and still have tons of stuff to do when you leave at night. Most people operate in that manner. No real thought, no real system, respond to the emergency in front of them and “just doing the best I can!”
If you want to be successful though, that strategy is not good enough. In this crazy world you MUST focus on the RIGHT TASKS in order to be productive. If you let your day drive you then you will:
(a) miss critical task deadlines;
(b) waste your time (and your client’s money) on non-critical tasks;
(c) lose all sense of control of your job.
The solution to fixing this is easy: Take charge of your day! To-do lists are extremely helpful and should be your first step, but they can also grow to the point where you have no way of identifying the “high return”, “must do”, critical tasks. Here are a few different ways you keep on track of the most important tasks:
- Highlight the important tasks on your to-do list with a marker
- Plug your critical “To Do” items directly into your calendar
- Use your large to-do list to create a smaller daily to-do list. Once it’s created, focus only on the tasks you plan to do that day
- Put a reminder in your calendar twice daily to check your list. It’s easy to stray off course putting out fires or doing less important tasks that are more comfortable.
If you take control of your day and prioritize your tasks, you get a chance at winning the battle. Being more efficient on projects means you’re getting projects done on time (or faster), saving your client money, creating time for more contracts, and securing valuable references. There are no losing factors!
How do you take control of your day? Share your suggestions in the comments below.
Are you getting the most out of your day? Here are a few important questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re getting the most out of your day and providing the best value to your clients:
- Do you have a To Do list?
- Do you assign priorities to the tasks you need to complete?
- Do you get sidetracked by other things?
- Are you so busy that you can’t take time to help yourself?
- When you look back on your day do you typically feel good about your accomplishments or wonder where the time went?
We are all busy and it is not atypical for you to be running full speed through the day, but are you spending your time on the right things? Manage Your Time — don’t just let the days happen!
If you REALLY want to get control of your days then DO SOMETHING about it! For starters, refresh yourself on these past posts about To Do Lists and Calendars. If you have any more tips, we’d love to hear them. Leave a message below!
Everybody is busy these days… maybe even crazy busy!
The question is – are you being busy doing the right things or do you let your day drive you?
Some signs that you might be driven by your day include:
- You let emails and phone calls interrupt your flow.
- You don’t have a To Do list, or you don’t use it effectively keeping it current and prioritizing tasks.
- You don’t focus your time on high return activities.
- You just “do your job”… without thinking about it.
- You constantly checking the news or getting updates on the news. (Applies to sports scores etc.)
- You chat/text with your friends while doing your work tasks.
If you really want to be successful then avoid the pitfalls and make your working hours count! What do you do to stay focused and on task? Share your tips in the comments section.
Time management and personal productivity are important topics in business and especially critical for the independent contractor. Why? The simple answer is that if you can make the best use of the time available to you, then you are going to achieve more.
Here are 10 thoughts on one of the most powerful tools to help you get your business under control — the To Do List.
- If you have a list of things to do you can just do them! If you don’t have a list of things to do then you need to think of the things that need doing and then do them. Nobody has a perfect memory.
- If you have a list of things to do then you can prioritize them. Many independent contractors, especially in IT, are working on multiple projects for multiple clients. When you create a list with all of your deliverables, you have all of the facts and it’s easy to know what needs the most attention. It could be in order of due date or client (or anything else). It doesn’t need to be fancy but if you don’t have the list then you only work on what comes to mind and risk forgetting something.
- The more complex your business becomes the more useful this tool is.
- There are many theories about single list versus multiple lists; about prioritizing using A,B,C or percentage ROI or other scoring systems; about having deadline dates etc. The truth is, if you have a to do list, you are already ahead of the game.
- You can refine your list(s) to suit you over time.
- It can be electronic (there are a million apps), it could be on paper — whatever works for you.
- Update it as you go. If a new project or task comes along (big or small), add it right away. If you knock off a task then cross it off the list.
- Review/renew your list on a regular basis to suit you. It could be weekly or monthly, it could be every second day or once a quarter. Just as long as it keeps you on top of what needs doing!
- Delegating tasks requires a whole blog entry. Create a list specifically for this and it will remind you of who owes you what!
- Start or end each day with a review. You would be surprised how good it feels to cross off a few items! You will be all set to “go” in the new day and not have to think about what needs doing.
That’s only 10 reasons why you should be using at least one to do list today. There are probably 10,000 more reasons. Share your favourites in the comments below.