More important than getting everything done is getting the right things done. How do you figure out which priorities are most worthy of attention?
A structured to-do list is the solution offered by Peter Bregman, Harvard Business Review blogger and author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get The Right Things Done.
Start with your top five priorities for the year, such as, “Do great work for current directors,” “Build repertoire of technical skills” or “Have fun and take care of myself.” Those things will become the organizing map for your day.
Set up a to-do list made up of blocks where each of those priorities becomes a headline. Add a final category titled “The Other 5%.”
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Now, fill in your to-dos, so that each item has a home within your six or so categories. The benefits:
√ Helps you visualize your priorities. “This structure helps carve up my day into manageable, digestible chunks,” writes Bregman. “And ensures I spend my time where I should. Saying I want to focus on something is meaningless unless I actually spend my time there.”
√ Allows you to rebalance your time. You may find that one category contains many to-dos, while another is empty. That’s OK for a short time. But if the trend continues, it’s time to refocus on an area where you’re lagging.
√ Sharpens your sense of what-not-to-dos. If you notice that the list of “Other 5%” tasks are dominating your list, it’s time for action. Perhaps it’s time to delay some tasks.
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