I recently attended a Leadership/Strategic Planning retreat. The facilitator asked us which we considered more important: A) Good enough and on time or B) perfect and late. As you might imagine, this elicited an interesting discussion.
I have always loved the phrase, “Done Is Better Than Perfect.” Why? Because perfection is hard to achieve; as a result, rather than striving for that lofty goal, people tend to procrastinate…and don’t accomplish the necessary task.
In my experience, perfectionists tend to set unrealistic goals and standards, and are often highly self-critical, which generally causes dissatisfaction with their completed work.
In contrast, completing the assignment in a timely manner, even if it’s not perfect, allows you to cross the item off your to-do list, and move on to the next assignment. If necessary, you can always tweak or fine tune it later.
“Time Management” is an oxymoron – you can’t really manage time since you can’t control it. However, you can implement time management skills which will increase productivity.
Here are 10 tips to help you conquer your to-do list.
1 – Create one Master Project List that contains everything you ultimately need/want to accomplish. Each week, transfer time sensitive or priority items to a weekly or daily project list.
2 – Clarify what’s really important. Perfection should never be the end goal. Rather, identify what must be tackled in order to provide enough information, make a decision, or enable the subsequent steps to be taken.
3 – Break large tasks into smaller steps. Thinking about the whole task can be overwhelming; bite-size, manageable chunks are achievable. When a task is poorly sequenced and poorly managed, it will take longer to accomplish it.
4 – Create a realistic to do list. If you start your day with 27 things on your list, you’ve set yourself up for failure before you’ve gotten out of bed! Determine how much free/available time you have today to tackle the things on your list. Then move an appropriate number of tasks to your daily list.
5 – Leave white space in your calendar. Include enough free/unscheduled time so that you can handle the unexpected things that inevitably arise. Avoid over-booking your schedule. Not only will you feel less stressed, but you’ll have more flexibility – necessary when projects take longer than expected.
6 – Learn to say “no” to what’s not important. This means you need to be clear on priorities – yours, your boss’s, and those of your family. As the saying goes, “If everything is important, nothing is important.”
7 – Use your phone wisely. Your smartphone can be a huge time suck, or it can be an effective tool to help you manage time. Set alarms and reminders. Find those apps that address specific problems you are trying to solve. Use social media sites sparingly during the work day (avoid going down that rabbit hole) or use as rewards for completing something on your to do list (i.e., finish Task 1, spend 15 minutes on Instagram).
8 – Visualize Time. A tool such as the Time Timer allows you to visually see time passing; the red dial gradually diminishes as time passes. Even an analog clock is a better tool than a digital one, as you can see time marching on.
9 – Implement High Focus Time. Implement the Pomodoro Technique. Developed by Francesco Carillo, this system is named for the tomato-shaped timer he used to tackle his work. The Pomodoro method involves breaking work down into short, timed high-focus intervals (called Pomodoros) that are interspersed with short breaks.
10 – Identify the one big thing you never have time to do.
• Are you spending too much time putting out fires to focus on it?
• Are you afraid of failing or succeeding?
• Is the task too overwhelming?
Determine if it is still a priority for you. If it is, break it into chunks and add one chunk to your daily to do list each week. Before you know it, you’ll be able to cross it off the list. Won’t that feel good?!
Whether you need help organizing your time, your possessions, or your space, contact me for a no obligation phone consultation.