We are always busy, right? We don’t have time for another meeting. Your boss gave you another report deadline, your kid has soccer practice, and you haven’t had a haircut in four months. But yet, we just spent the last 45 minutes catching up with a fellow colleague about the weekend concert. How can we manage our to do lists better?
- Change your language from “I don’t have time” to “it’s not a priority”
Start the day with determining what is the priority. Report deadlines, a phone call to your mom, dinner date with a new girl? All of these can be a priority, but they also need your time correctly allocated to produce the desired outcome. You don’t want to think about the report due date while you’re on your date. And don’t think about your date while you are finishing the report. Allocate specific time slots for each priority in the day.
- Organization of time
We usually try to keep things in our heads when we should really be putting them on paper. There is a mental connection that happens when we physically write things down (as well as cross them off). We are bogged down with many different thoughts and disruptions throughout the day. Get your list of priorities on paper to help keep you on track.
- Make a list only for the DAY
As logical as this sounds, we tend to put everything we “need to do” on our “to do” list. This is not realistic about the time each task takes to complete. Try allocating the time for each item and only write down what should be accomplished that day. Anything else will be moved to the next day.
- Make your list the night before
At the end of each day, cross off those accomplishments and create the new list for tomorrow. This allows you to go home prepared for the next day. Now you can focus on family time. But this also applies for family time…make your to do lists for home too!
When you get to work the next morning, re-visit the list and make sure the time allotted seems reasonable. The list is ever-changing. This is a practiced skill. Estimating the required time of project can be difficult. The more aware of how long something takes, the easier it is to judge future tasks (and be honest about deadlines). As time management becomes better, it will be easier to tell your boss that the timeline is not realistic. You should not feel bad if something takes longer, but communicating and re-arranging tasks is important to acknowledge.
Remember that breaks should be built in as a priority. Set aside time to take a walk, eat lunch, and days you will leave work 5-10 minutes early. Reward yourself for planning the to-do list well. Priorities become habits and habits become our daily life. Make time a priority in your life.
We’re here to help you in all aspects of your business life. Contact a Henry + Horne audit professional with any questions.
Noemi Barter, Supervisor