Jan 09 2018
Take control of your workload with these 4 tips

By David Goodman

In 1918 Charles Schwab, the President of the Bethlehem Steel Cooperation, the world’s largest ship builder, met with a highly respected productivity consultant, Ivy Lee. As the story goes, Schwab brought Lee into his offices and said, “Show me how I can get more done”. 100 years on and the answer is the same. Here’s how it works.

1. What do you need to do tomorrow?

At the end of each day spend 20 minutes thinking through what you want to achieve the following day. Make a list but put no more than 5 tasks on the list. Of course you’ll have phone calls to make and other smaller stuff to deal with. These are not tasks. These can be done between tasks.

2. Prioritise your list

Which items are more urgent or more important and must be completed first? We know that things will happen which need our immediate attention and plans don’t always go to plan. However, if you have prioritised correctly, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that what needed to be done was done and other tasks on your list will now be carried over to the following day.

3. Allocate time to each task 

This is where you start to gain control. Yes, if you’ve got 5 tasks to complete, you’ll need to make sure that one task doesn’t take up more time than needed. Now decide how much time you are going to allocate to each task.

Is it really a good use of your time to spend 2 hours on drafting a letter of apology to an important client? 30-60 minutes should be enough and you’ll be surprised what can be achieved if you set yourself a realistic deadline. No deadline and you can find you’ve spent all morning on the letter! The outcome may be great, but was it worth it?

So, create a timetable and keep to it. Yes, write it down and place it in front of you. If you are allocating 90 minutes to a task and start at 9.00am, make sure you stay focused and utilise the time fully, because at 10.30am you’re moving on to another task.

4. Keep to your list

Don’t become distracted by other things which are going on in the office. Focus means not being distracted by anything else which is happening around you. Don’t let someone push you into doing something you hadn’t planned to do. It may be urgent to them, but is it urgent to you?

Plan and only some things will be unexpected, but fail to plan and everything is unexpected. Without planning there is the common danger that you will deal with issues which arise, but which have distracted you from what you should really be doing.

Be strict with yourself and repeat this process every working day. Welcome to task management. 

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.