Thursday, January 28, 2010

Organizing Your To Do List

Many times, when we sit down at our desks to begin the process of organizing our day and write out our "to do" lists, and we think about all the tasks we want to get done over and above our normal workflow, overwhelm sets in. Happens to me all the time. You too, huh?

The solution is very simple...break things down based on priority and the time it takes to do them. Tackling the most urgent, least time consuming tasks first will clear your mind and free you up to tackle those more pressing tasks.

Sounds easy, right?

Let me show you...

Here is a list of things I'd like to get done next week:
1. Create subject outline for newsletter and blog posts for March
2. Send welcome packets via email to potential clients
3. Finish writing chapter 5 of book (shhhh...Yes, I'm writing a book!)
4. Purge office of 2009 magazines, articles and other non-essential paper
5. Prepare for client coaching calls
6. Review/revise notes for Feb. 22nd speaking engagement
7. Book hotel and car for Vegas and Atlanta
8. Build draft of new ATP website
9. Finish services, FAQ and contact pages for SMW website
10. Finish interview questions for featured February and March featured teleclass guests

I use an Excel worksheet to do this (because I just LOVE Excel!) and I can sort my tasks when I'm done based on how I label them in the spreadsheet. I try to limit myself to no more than 10 tasks a week. Any more than that will interfere with my regularly scheduled work like client coaching, email, marketing, etc.

First I label each one with an A = Must be done this week; or B = Should be done this week but can be moved to an A next week.
I've designated 6 items above as A's; #2, #3, #4, #5, #7, #10; and the rest are B's. Next I enter how long each task should take in minutes.

This is an estimate and is often something I don't spend a lot of time on. Just throw a time length on it and move on.

Next, I sort the list by priority and time and voila! (I built in a cool macro to do this.) Now I have a nicely sorted list of tasks and a roadmap to get it done. I usually print this on Sunday night and write in my notes for the resources/people/tools I'll need to finish the task.

After that, its easy. Just do all of the A's with the shortest task time first, and so on.

What tools do you use to organize your daily or weekly tasks? If you'd like a blank copy of my worksheet, email me and I'll send it to you!

Until next time...


Dina Eisenberg said...

Organization is top of mind for me as I switch from PC to Mac right now. I'm gonna follow your great suggestions Wendy and add a twist. I'll also rank my tasks according to how immediately they create cash.

Not surprisingly it's easy for me to 'fill up' on stuff that feels good to complete but don't actively contribute to the bottom line.

Thanks again!

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