Mark Twain

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

- Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why you need a total life to-do list

Victory is won not in mile but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.  - Louis L'Amours

The concept of daily or weekly to-do lists is as outdated as rotary phones. Instead we need a total, 360-degree view of everything we want to accomplish, and all the actions required to start any of them, along with access to reminders of those actions whenever we actually might be able to take them.

Most everyone I come across these days is up to their eyeballs in work, and feeling overwhelmed. Strategizing, prioritizing, and triaging are indeed required to address that, but at least as important is the requirement for people to set up their lives to get a lot more efficient about getting a lot more done in a day. 

Setting up a dental appointment may not be comparable to restructuring your company, but on another level, it is just as critical.

To steal from an old Motorola strategy, we need to "mine the bandwidth." That company developed technology utilizing the more discreet areas "between the lines" in the radio frequencies already in place. 

Similarly we need to be ready for, and take advantage of, the weird and uneven time and energy spaces we find ourselves in.

Ever have the attention span of a gnat—either externally imposed (like stuck on the tarmac at the airport) or internally generated (like4:30 PM on a day of six meetings, five of which were brutal)? Ever have a short (but still unknown) time period, with informal distractions, like waiting for a late meeting to start or being delayed in an airport due to weather?

There are very few times and places we really have the appropriate energy level, tools, and uninterrupted time frames to work on some of our "most important" work. The rest of the day, we shouldn't be feeling guilty that we're not working on "job one." Rather, we should be maximizing our productivity by picking things to do (which we're going to do anyway, sometime) that match the situation.

Catch up on the FYI-type read-and-review material while waiting for meetings. Water your plants and fill your stapler when your brain is toast. Call and book the doctor's appointment you need while you're waiting for your take-out order. Problem is, most people don't have all those options already defined and parked in appropriately accessible buckets to rummage through when those situations appear. And mostly when those awkward time slots happen, folks don't have the energy to remember the pending actions or figure them out.

As I said above, there's a fine line you'll be walking, between doing the less important items because you're procrastinating, and doing them because they are the most productive thing you can do right there and then. At worst it's an energizing way to waste time semi-productively. At best, it's keeping the decks clear and optimally utilizing yourself as a resource.


No comments: