Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sample Chapter from my Time Leadership eBook

I've just published a new Time Leadership eBook, which you can now purchase online. My previous Time Leadership Audio CD is also available.

Here's a free sample chapter for you:

Why have a To Do List?

In the most basic sense, a To Do list keeps track of tasks at hand and helps you prioritize your commitments and tasks.

A To Do list makes you reliable; if an item is on the To Do list then it will not be overlooked or ignored.

You will be able to determine your workload and scheduling with a To Do list. If someone asks you to do something, you can look at your To Do list and easily ascertain if you are available or not. The answer might be, “Sure, I will be able to get to that later this afternoon,” or it might be, “I’m very busy this week and won’t be able to get to that until next Wednesday.” Regardless of your answer, a To Do list allows you to be honest with yourself and with others about your commitments.

To Do List Hints
An action item is something that you can accomplish immediately. If you have a large task on your To Do list, you can write down your first step to the completion of that task. This first step is your action-item. As with goal-setting, breaking down a task into smaller parts helps you reach your objective. Often, the first step to completing a task is simply to think about how you will go about the job, and considering the first action-item will lead to beginning the task, which is the first step to finishing a task. This powerful To Do list hint has helped me accomplish many more things.

Write down the time it will take to complete a task next to the task. One advantage of this is that you will always know your workload. I might have 200 hours of To Do’s to complete in the next few weeks so know I cannot take more on. I am jumping ahead a bit but one time tip is to focus on one task at a time. Sometimes I have only 15 minutes so can choose a 15 minute task to complete. Over time, it has become a game I play with myself to see if I can beat the allotted time.

To Do List Traps
Some people come up with an overwhelming To Do list. If you have too many things on your list, then you will not be able to accomplish any of them because all of the small things that jostle for your attention. The simple solution to this problem is to take a blank piece of paper, write your top three or four things that you are going to work on for the day. This Today list helps keep your desk and mind uncluttered so you can better focus on your listed priorities.

Another trap is over-listing: listing things that shouldn’t be on the To Do list, or even putting things on the To Do list after the fact so you can cross it off. Over-listing leads to over-planning and can be a waste of time and resources: you can never plan for every contingency, so stick with what you know needs to be done, and adjust things when necessary. It is not productive for you to write down items on your To Do list simply to cross them off, so break that habit right now.

The Magical To-Do List
Mary LoVerde created the concept of the Magical To Do list. On this list, you start by dividing your page in half vertically. On the left side, you write only the things that absolutely must get done today. This does not include the things that you want to do, or the things that you have to do at some point this week. She stresses that it is important to be realistic and only put down a few items (this list should be a fraction of the normal list that you normally write: that list that could only accomplish if you worked for two weeks without sleeping).

In the right column, you write down the other things that you want to happen. This is your magical column. You will put them down and ask for magic help getting these tasks done. More often than not, those tasks get accomplished without even any attention from you.

Once you have your magical To Do list, then transfer your regular To Do items over as well. You will probably want some extra help with these ones because often they are the most important.

This is a perfect example of distilling your To Do list to manageable proportions, and keeping a positive attitude that keeps you open to possibilities.

4 Comments:

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Sue Richards said...

Congratulations Jim.

Will you be having a book launch?

 
At 9:16 PM, Blogger ea sandy mackay said...

thanks Jim, these are neat ideas. i came here visiting from randy sutherland's space

 
At 10:28 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Interesting, useful article.

Do you use a system that is electronic (aka iGTD) or paper or some combination of the two?

 
At 10:29 PM, Blogger GPS to GO said...

I've been getting coaching from a gent from Action Coach & the BIGGEST thing they have you do is the Daily default diary -daily list of To-do's & where will I spend my time -& the 90 day plan - very hard to do -but very worth it -a quote I read off of Susan Wards site on Entrepeneurs on About.com

Planning is always harder than doing. It takes more brainwork, it takes more time, it requires delaying your personal gratification. But the cliché is true; businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail. Don't let it happen to you.

taken from http://sbinfocanada.about.com/od/startup/a/whybusinessesfail.htm?nl=1

 

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