Tag Archive: important tasks

To-Do ListDo you have a to-do list? If so, is it an active, effective one? I’m not talking about a list that has all kinds of things piled on it, some things done, maybe crossed off; others just there. I don’t mean a list that things have been on for so long you might not even remember what some of them are related to or why you added them in the first place. If that’s what your list looks like, it’s time to clean it up and if you don’t have one, it’s time to change that!

Having a to-do list to help manage the many things on your agenda is a key factor in the game.  If you use one effectively on a regular basis, you’re someone who’s committed to productivity.  If you don’t have one, you might be stuck in the overwhelm conversation from the amount of things you have to do and you may be forgetting or not getting to the important things.

If that’s where you are, take a moment to think about what having and effectively using a to-do list will do for you. What would that look like? Let me share some of the advantages with you:

  • All of your tasks are in one place and prioritized
  • Being able to clearly see what needs to be done
  • Prioritizing keeping you on track
  • You are organized, and more efficient
  • Not being stressed by unimportant tasks
  • Your complete, prioritized to-do list drives your time management system

Without a solid to-do list you lack focus and you’re not as efficient or reliable to those around you.  If you have a to-do list, is it doing these things for you?  If not, chances are that it’s not up to date, contains old, unfinished items and you don’t update it on a regular basis as one of your practical systematic pieces.


To-Do ListGot a long to-do list and wondering where to start? How do so many things end up on your list, where do they come from and how do you get it all done? Life moves so fast and you continually add things to your plate without even thinking. There are things that you miss or don’t get done because you don’t have things in place to support you. There are particular steps and habits that you can create to support you in becoming a task master that will get you through your to-do list every time.

So, let’s look at how things end up on your to-do list. Are you creating daily tasks based upon the larger projects that you’re working on or are you creating lists randomly?  How you create your list makes a big difference when it comes to getting it all done.  The first key to becoming a task master is being a master at determining what goes on your list.  If your daily lists are being created based upon the projects that you’re working on, the tasks are focused and related to something that’s important or something that you value.  If your daily lists are being created randomly, they are likely to include things that aren’t important or even relevant.  Those are the things that will waste your time.  Only add things to your list that are related to the goals or projects you are working on and other things that are important and relevant.  This helps you weed out the unimportant tasks and things that can be delegated and keeps you focused on what’s important.

The second key is knowing when to do what, so you have to know your priorities and stick to them.  Priorities should be created when your projects and goals are created.  If the projects and goals that you’re focused on don’t have a priority attached to them, determine them.  Once you know your priorities for each, you know the priority of the related tasks as they filter down to your daily to-do list.  This has you be in the practice of scheduling your priorities and not prioritizing your schedule.

The third key to being a task master is personalizing everything.  Know the time of day that you are at your best mentally and physically and use that time to carry out your top priority tasks so that you’re not working against your grain.  Organize your work space according to how you work and assign a place for everything so that it’s easily accessible.  This way you’re not wasting time looking for things.  You’re working on the tasks at hand.

These three keys will keep your daily to-do list trim and fit, with no extra filler.  Be particular about what you give your time to.  If something doesn’t fit, don’t give your time to it.  Always keep your priorities in mind and allow them to guide you.  There will be many things that will try to get your attention and your time, but you get to choose how you spend your day.  Stick with habits that support you and you will be able to get it all done.  You will be a task master.


SpiralClock-Smaller2We are all overcome with information and so many of us are wearing a number of different hats-juggling business and our personal lives. Executives, business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, office workers and homemakers alike are all feeling the pressure that the high speed pace of today’s culture brings. Here are some things to consider:

  • The average U.S. professional spends at least 10 hours each week just managing email. 25% of the average work week; some say it’s more
  • The average person gets interrupted once every 8 minutes; each interruption takes about 5 minutes totaling 4 hours, which equals half of the work day
  • 20% of the average work day is spent on things considered to be important or crucial while 80% of the work day is spent on things considered to be of little or no value
  • A person who works with a cluttered desk spends at least 1½-2 hours each day looking for things-that’s 7½-10 hours each work week
  • Only 5% of business and professional people implement a to-do list on a daily basis

Given the information overload and these statistics, there has never been a time when there has been a greater need for our personal and business lives to be organized. With those same things in mind, we see that there is also a need for solutions that help us get things done. Time is our most precious resource; it cannot be saved, it has to be used and once it’s gone, we can’t get it back. We have to use the right tools and strategies to manage our time for ultimate productivity.

Your time can go towards any number of activities and most times people give their time over to tasks that don’t have anything to do with their goals. People typically give time over to urgent things like solving problems and crises or time wasters, busy work and non-productive tasks. When your time is spent on preventing the problems, crises, dealing with interruptions and handling pressing tasks at the last minute although you’ve had significant time to complete them, you’re operating in a way that doesn’t contribute to your overall success because you’re not getting to the important things on a timely basis or at all. If that’s what’s happening with you, think about the impact that it’s having on your business. What’s happening as a result of the way that you are relating to time? Take a moment and seriously think about that and answer the question.

Very few people are focused on tasks that come about as a result of planning and things that prevent crises and problems, but this is where productive, successful people focus their time. This is why only roughly 8% of people reach their goals every year. Do you know where your time is going? If not, stop and think about what things would be like if you could operate this way. What would your days and your life look like? More importantly, how do you get to the point of operating that way? By looking at everything you have on your plate and the things you would like to place on your plate. There is an exercise that Stephen Covey proposed that does work when it comes to seeing where your time is going and getting to the important things.

  • Get a pack of index cards. On each card, write one thing that you feel you should do, want to do, hope to do, plan to do or dream of doing. Be sure you include everything no matter how big or small it is. Keep going until you run out of things.
  • Next, separate the cards into two piles. The first being things that have to be done right now and the other being things that don’t have to be done right now. These are your urgent and non urgent items.
  • Go through both piles and separate each one into important and not important stacks so that you end up with four stacks. (Urgent, not urgent, important and not important)
  • Take the two not important stacks and put them in a safe place. You are now left with what’s important.
  • Make a commitment to eliminate all of the activities that didn’t make it to your important piles. After you work on your important and urgent tasks, work on things that are important but not urgent. No matter how pressing something might seem to be, don’t do it unless it’s important.

With only 20% of the work day being spent on things that are considered to be important or crucial, and 80% of the work day being spent on things that are considered to be of little or no value, the script has to be flipped so that the work day is spent on the things that are important; the things that matter most. If you’re wasting your time, flip the script to make the transition that will get you into the 8% of people who reach their goals by getting things done.


Part 2:

To round out the list of things that you can begin to do right now to gain control over your workload, try implementing these habits:

Work on the tasks that are important but not urgent- Usually people find themselves working on those things that are urgent but not important. Things like non productive meetings, interruptions and the mail. What we really want to be able to focus on are the things that are not urgent, but important. Those are the things that involve prevention, planning, seizing opportunities and recreation. Knowing that 80% of our desired results come from 20% of high leverage activities, we can see that the greatest payoff would come from working on those things that are important but not urgent. By doing so, you position yourself to spend less time handling crises; working smarter, not harder.

Break larger tasks down into smaller pieces so that the larger task is easy to accomplish. Look at it as though you are eating a meal. You eat a meal one bite at a time. Break the larger task down into components or bites and take each one of those on individually. When you finish one of the components, celebrate your accomplishment. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but do it. It will help to fuel you along and get the other pieces of the larger task done.

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