Your daily list should have no more than ten tasks listed, including personal tasks. Your master list can have as many as 100 tasks. The master list includes tasks that need to be done next week, next month or sometime in the future. Written goals should include long term plans for your personal and business life. What does goal setting do for you - it gives you focus!
When you consistently rely on lists to govern your day, you can expect to get 25% more done in a day. When you don't have a list, little tasks slip through the cracks and then turn into tomorrow's crisis. For example, have you ever put off ordering trim or custom hardware because it was going to take too much time? Well, I did and one day I said "enough!" Now when a client signs the contract and gives me a deposit, I place orders with my vendors within three to four days. I go down the estimate line by line and create a purchase order for each item. It does not matter if you get your hardware list together today or one month from now it takes the same amount of time, the only difference in waiting is you may incur Second Day Air or Overnight charges as well as rush charges from the vendor.
Be sure to schedule quiet time on your daily list. Quiet time is the time when there are no interruptions and the phone is turned off or not ringing. This time should be scheduled during the time of day that you are most productive; my most productive time is the morning. Use this time to do planning for your business, create proposals, research fabrics, bookwork etc. Remember, planning prevents crisis. Use a calendar to schedule and plan personal, as well as, business tasks, activities, appointments and don't forget the quiet time. Don't over schedule - leave some extra time. Be sure to schedule your quiet time; if you don't, it will always be eaten up by someone or something. We all have the same amount of time; the only difference is what we do with it. The one thing you can control is your time; once we waste it - it's gone forever.
Here are a few tips on planning & making lists:
- Use only one calendar. (I recommend Microsoft Outlook & a PDA Phone and sync daily)
- Group appointments with errands.
Control the phone. (Turn off the phone during your quiet time; don't let curiosity get the best of you.)
- Handle a piece of paper once. (Act on it, file it, delegate it, toss it - those should be your only choices)
- Stay with a task until it is done. (Jumping back and forth to a task is a huge time waster.)
- Turn off email notification. (When you are working on a proposal and you hear that "You've got mail" or a ding, it is an instant distraction and it takes several minutes to refocus. I confess this is a weakness for me, but now I have my computer check messages hourly. This was a big step for me!)
- Do those unpleasant tasks first. (You will be encouraged to move to the next task.)
- Break large tasks into several small tasks. (A proposal for a whole house could be broken into several entries on your daily list. This helps those large proposals not seem so overwhelming.)
- Commit time every day to read - it's educational & relaxing. (Read trade magazines, newsletters, Minutes Matter Ezine of course, self-help books, etc.)
- Create your daily list during your quiet time. (If your quiet time is in the morning, create your daily list in the morning. If your quiet time is at the end of the day, create tomorrow's daily list at the end of each day.)
- Be flexible. (Some days just won't go as expected - tomorrow is always another day.)
- Remember bad things happen to good lists - just don't give up!
He who every morning plans the transactions of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign."