Exxperientia | May 21,2020
As a leader you need to organize your work impeccably. Your work includes your own tasks and the tasks that your subordinates are doing. If you are not organized, there will be a lot of chaos. You will not know when and what to delegate, when to follow up, when to review etc. This will dip your efficiency and productivity and also that of your team’s.
It’s important to make a ‘To-Do List’ and manage a diary to manage time effectively.
To-Do List is a record of all the tasks you need to carry out throughout the day, maintained in your diary.
Every interaction (meeting, call or email) with a subordinate, colleague or a customer usually generates a new task. The fact that most people don’t update their To-Do list after every interaction is what makes them ineffective at work.
Maintain a To-Do List by writing down all your tasks in one place so you don't forget anything significant.
Remember: A well-managed To-Do list ensures that you not only overlook but also capture every important task and it also reduces your stress multifold!
1. Write every single thing down & Write after every interaction – Phone, One on One meeting or Email.
2. This helps in releasing brain RAM to do more creative things.
3. This means that any task which requires you to do any kind of action/ execution needs to be written down on that particular day’s page of your diary.
4. This will immensely help you in remembering the smallest of the things that you are supposed to do even 3 months later. Hence rather than falling back on your memory and getting betrayed and then bearing the brunt; always write things down. It will make your life simpler.
5. Writing down after every single interaction means; if you’ve had a telephonic chat with the customer where he expects you to action something or if your subordinate has asked for certain inputs from you; pen them down.
6. Write the action point irrespective of how small or inconsequential it may seem.
7. Tick off an item on your diary as soon as it is done.
3. Follow Up Tasks
These tasks must go on your diary. These are the tasks that you have delegated to your subordinate with a fixed timeline. You need to make a note of the deadline. This ensures that the timelines are met and the subordinate knows that you will follow up for the task and perhaps reprimand him if he doesn’t complete the work within the agreed time frame.
4. 3 X 3 Rule:
One of the best ways to be organized, to prioritize and thereby manage your time effectively is using the ‘3X3 Rule.’ This rule states that EVERYDAY it is extremely crucial to go through your To Do List for 3 minutes, 3 times a day- before you begin your day, before lunch and lastly before you end the day.
• Start of Day
• By Lunch time
• End of Day
This should become a ritual and evaluate at every time you check your to-do list.
• Re-reading the To- Do List assures that you don’t forget any important task.
• It refreshes your memory on all the tasks at hand, which you then need to prioritize
• As the day proceeds, your To-Do List also gets updated (tasks may be added or subtracted.) Likewise you may then require to change your priorities i.e. the order in which you execute those tasks.
Remember: The 3X3 Rule sure seems exceedingly trivial. However, it could save you from mighty repercussions.
4. Prioritize your task/ work:
• Unless you have an entire list of activities that need to be done in front of you, you cannot prioritize.
• For any work or job that a subordinate needs to do for you, please communicate as easily as possible. This helps him schedule & prioritize your work in his day.
Knowing how to prioritize work effectively improves productivity, reduces stress and makes you an efficient professional since you do what matters and when it matters.
The most vital thing is to have clarity on what tasks you have to complete by making a ‘To- Do’ list. Once you put all the tasks down the next step is to prioritize by categorizing and breaking them down.
How to categorize?
• The most important ones (as per deadline/ boss’s requirement) as the ‘A’ tasks- which if not delivered will have serious consequences
• The tasks as ‘B’ tasks- which may have mild consequences and can be put off till sometime in the day.
• The rest of the tasks as ‘C’. These are the ones which will have no immediate repercussions and can be procrastinated.
How to break tasks?
After categorizing tasks as A, B, C; break them down in the order of priority as A1, A2, A3... B1, B2, B3... and C1, C2, C3... (1 being the highest in priority for all categories.)
Remember: As per the necessity of the situation tasks may move from one category to another.
5. Carry Forward:
• Do not plan stuff in such a way that you are bound to carry forward stuff. Negotiate appropriate time lines for yourself.
• To carry forward anything only at EOD.
• Carry forward all your tasks that you haven’t finished on that particular day to the next day’s To Do List.
• This ensures that you know of your pending tasks and assures its execution timely.
6. 7 Days back and Forth:
Every day when you start your day; flip your diary pages 7 days back and forth.
You will then have clarity on whether you have executed all the tasks that you were supposed to in the past 7 days or not.
Also flipping your diary for the next 7 days will let you have any idea about what are the tasks planned for the next 7 days.
Prioritizing Work Matrix
(Source:Dr. Stephen R. Covey; 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that you want to achieve, means spending your time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, and to minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, it's important to understand this distinction:
‘Important’ activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals.
‘Urgent’ activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else's goals. Urgent activities are often the ones we concentrate on; they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.
Urgent and Important
There are two distinct types of urgent and important activities: Ones that you could not foresee, and others that you've left to the last minute.
You can avoid last-minute activities by planning ahead and avoiding procrastination. Issues and crises, on the other hand, cannot always be foreseen or avoided. Here, the best approach is to leave some time in your schedule to handle unexpected issues and unplanned important activities. (If a major crisis arises, then you'll need to reschedule other events.)
If you have a lot of urgent and important activities, identify which of these could have been foreseen, and think about how you could schedule similar activities ahead of time, so that they don't become urgent.
Urgent and Not Important
Urgent but not important activities are things that stop you achieving your goals, and prevent you from completing your work. Ask yourself whether these tasks can be rescheduled, or whether you can delegate them. A common source of such interruptions is from other people in your office. Sometimes it's appropriate to say "No" to people politely, or to encourage them to solve the problem themselves.
Alternatively, try scheduling time when you are available, so that people know that they can interrupt you at these times (a good way of doing this is to schedule a regular meeting, so that all issues can be dealt with at the same time.) By doing this, you'll be able to concentrate on your important activities for longer periods of time.
Not Urgent, but Important
These are the activities that help you achieve your professional goals, and complete important work. Make sure that you have plenty of time to do these things properly, so that they do not become urgent. And remember to leave enough time in your schedule to deal with unforeseen problems. This will maximize your chances of keeping on schedule, and help you avoid the stress of work becoming more urgent than necessary.
Not Urgent and Not Important
These activities are just a distraction, and should be avoided if possible. Some can simply be ignored or cancelled. Others are activities that other people may want you to do, but they do not contribute to your own desired outcomes. Again, say "No" politely, if you can. If people see you
are clear about your objectives and boundaries, they will often not ask you to do "not important" activities in the future.
The Urgent/Important Matrix is a powerful way of thinking about priorities. Using it helps you overcome the natural tendency to focus on urgent activities, so that you can keep clear enough time to focus on what's really important. This is the way you move from "firefighting" into a position where you can grow your business and your career.