Life rushes at you. Deadlines, requests, e-mails and meetings. You’re in a reactive mode, getting through the day but with never enough time to plan for the major projects. Here’s a technique to make sure you get to the big stuff. Every day, write out a list of activities that need to be done. Your to-do list. There’s nothing new about that. What’s new is a key question you should ask; “If I had nothing else to do today, what activities could I finish that would affect my results one month from now?” Imagine a blank slate. Nothing else to do. What projects would you attack? You’d make sales calls. Or develop next year’s budget. Conduct a performance review. Research a new initiative. These are your “A” priorities. They shouldn’t be confused with the urgent responsibilities you also need to complete. You always find time for those. The “A” items though sometimes get slotted in last. They shouldn’t They’re the things you should plan for first. So make an appointment to do them. Block off time for them. And even though you can’t complete an entire project in one day, there should be something you can complete to move it forward. You can’t do the entire budget today, but you can complete the competitive analysis. That would be an “A” priority. Schedule time for it. And don’t allow other people to interrupt your appointment with yourself, unless it’s a real emergency. Most interruptions can wait at least an hour. After all, your time is worth it.
Mark Ellwood is president of Pace Productivity, an international consulting firm that specializes in improving corporate productivity. His passionate mission is to improve people and processes through consulting and training.