Ed note: I have been greatly challenged from this series of articles and on my list for today is "Publish Part Three of Time Management Article." I almost hate to end this series of tips, but I must finish my checklist! Links to the first two parts of this series are at the end of the article:
To recap some of the invaluable Time Management Techniques in the two earlier parts of this series, Gayle Hilligoss has advised us to:
• In the afternoon, make your list for the next day.
• Include both long and short-term goals.
• Include thinking and planning time.
• Break large jobs into small ones.
• Allow for lunch and break times.
• Keep your list visible.
• Give each item on the list a priority.
Now for Part 3:
• Group similar tasks.
Studies show that doing like tasks together may cut the time required by as much as 30 percent. As you schedule your day try to arrange some blocks of time. Your goal is to move from scattered to scheduled, from random to routine.
When tasks or appointments can be scheduled at your discretion, choose timing most convenient to you. If your office generally has a least busy time of day, schedule work that demands high concentration then.
As you plan when to do things, consider what they will demand of you. Use your high energy times to do your most difficult work. Be flexible in your habits. Perhaps you’ve always done a certain routine job in the morning, your high energy time. Would it be more effective to reschedule that “not so challenging” job at a low energy time?
• Understand the Pareto Principle.
Vilfredo Pareto was a nineteenth century Italian economist. Studying the distribution of his country’s resources, he determined that 80 percent of the wealth was held by 20 percent of the people.
Researchers have discovered Pareto’s 80/20 rule applies in countless circumstances. For instance, 80 percent of your church’s offerings are likely given by 20 percent of the membership, 80 percent of the leadership provided by 20 percent of the people. And, probably 80 percent of your problems are generated by 20 percent of the congregation.
On your to-do list, 80 percent of your productivity is in the 20 percent of your list designated as As. If you do only the As, the most important 20 percent of your list, you will have accomplished 80 percent of your productivity. But, if you work from the bottom of the list and do eight things, all the Bs and Cs, you do 80 percent of your list but accomplish only 20 percent of your productivity. The 80/20 rule graphically illustrates why it is so important to stick to your priorities.
Efficiency is doing the job right. Effectiveness is doing the right job right. Your goal is to be effective, not just efficient. Keep those As crossing your desk until all are completed. The temptation to do Bs and Cs first is understandable. Usually these tasks are easier or take less time, and everybody likes to check things off. If you need help sticking to priorities, write your As on one list and your Bs and Cs on a second sheet underneath. Raising the sheet is a reminder that you’re straying from your priorities.
Work on one project at a time, seeing it through before moving on to the next. Obviously, this is not always possible. But often we interrupt ourselves. Make sure your only interruptions are the ones over which you have no control.
• Finally, keep your lists as a reference.
File your weekly to-do lists with the most current week to the front. This creates an accurate record of work done, calls made, materials ordered—any information you want may need to refer to later.
Using these steps allows you to tap into the number one time management technique effectively. The guarantee is not that you get every task on you list done, but that the most important tasks are accomplished.
Rather than fret about the unchecked tasks, as you leave the office thank God for all you did get done. Congratulate yourself for your accomplishments and keep your undone tasks on tomorrow’s to-do list where you’ve parked them. Leaving the office feeling good about the day prepares your spirit to face tomorrow with enthusiasm.