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Managing Time and Your High Impact Tasks
Submitted by Leslie Allan on March 26th, 2013
How much work did you get done today? I mean real work. You may have worked 50, 60 or even 70 hours, but what did you create of value? It’s all too easy to get distracted by all of the little tasks that we often find gobble up most of the day.
For many business owners and professionals, the little tasks are a welcome diversion from the important tasks that are just plain unpleasant to do. For others, they think that if they get all of the unimportant stuff out of the way first, they will have a clear headway to get stuck into the value-producing tasks. Come near the end of the day when they find the day has almost disappeared, they reason that if they knock-off now, they will start refreshed early the next morning to dive into the critical jobs. Next morning, the cycle simply repeats itself.
If you want to make a real impact in your business and in your life instead of just spinning your wheels day after day, you need discipline and a process. You see, it’s not just about managing time. Time is finite and always will be. Being effective is about managing yourself.
Here is the process I follow for making the most of every day.
I begin by doing a yearly audit of all of the tasks I perform over a couple of weeks. I examine the items on the list to identify which are non-value add and separate these from what I call my HITs. These are my High Impact Tasks; the tasks that help me achieve our major goals. (You do have goals, right?)
Every Friday afternoon, I plan the following week by blocking out times in my diary to work on the HITs. These are dedicated blocks of time that are not interruptible; as if I were at a meeting or in training.
I categorize all current tasks in my diary as either (U)rgent, (H)igh, (M)edium or (L)ow priority. To the left of each item, I place a (U), (H), (M) or (L). My HIT tasks are either always (H)igh or (U)rgent.
For low value tasks, I either delegate them, relegate them to the end of the day, time-box them or take them off my task list entirely.
For all new (L)ow priority tasks that pop up during the week that don’t demand attention, I record these tasks in a separate Notepad file. There, they are out of sight but still within easy reach.
At the same time on Friday, I review how successful I was that week in keeping my commitments to myself to work on my HITs. I record what percentage of HIT activities I actually completed as a proportion of all HIT activities scheduled. If the score is not 100%, I examine the reasons and consider strategies for improving the score.
I have found that by adopting these six habits, I am no longer distracted by the minutiae and I really focus on the tasks that make a difference to our business. What strategies do you use to improve your impact and help you stay on track with achieving your major goals? Please share with us your experiences and tips for success.
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