Do you spend your entire day working and never feel like you get anything done? Completing tasks can bring great satisfaction to your work day. But how can you deal with the constant “fires” that always come up and still stay on task?
We had the same issues at our agency, so I had to devise a plan that would give us some focus and help us “Get Shit Done”.
The first thing my team does every day is what we call a “brain dump’. This is just a system for capturing everything bouncing around in your brain in writing. We might list things like “pick up prescription for dog” or “call and cancel subscription to Dollar Shave Club”, but also all work/project-related items will be listed.
The next step in this process is to break the list into 2 parts: business/work, and personal.
I do this by color-coding my brain dump using orange for work, and yellow for personal. (You can use whatever colors work for you – I just happen to usually have these color highlighters handy.) So, I go through my list and mark a color next to each task.
After I’ve given every task in each segment a number, I rewrite the list in order of importance, and keep the color-coding in place.
The next step is to prioritize each segment. I will always start with my work segment. I look over the orange items and number them by urgency or priority. I then repeat this step with my personal tasks.
I know there’s some redundancy here. But my method seems to work well and keeps me on task.
This next step may seem crazy.
I take a picture of this prioritized list.
Well, there are times when I’m running errands, and if I have my list, I may be able to tick one off while I’m doing another task. If I don’t have my list, I will not remember what’s on it.
Now, this is the only digital version of this list, and I use a photo-edit feature to cross off the tasks I have completed.
Sometimes, stuff happens that prevents me from completing all the tasks on my list. If this happens, I just reprioritize the items and add the ones I missed today to the next day’s list. (Try to prevent this from happening by staying focused all day long.)
If you suffer from ADD-like symptoms (as I do), set a timer or use a device like Timeular. This is a time-tracking device that also has an app you can use. It helps me know how many minutes of every hour I am sidetracked.
When I was writing this, I had my Timeular app running so I could track how much time I spent writing (I have a daily goal). I was able to complete this task without allowing myself to get interrupted.
We know these happen. But, as I’ve said, we allow them to happen. It is 100% a choice. You need to stay focused on your task unless:
- Someone is injured or dying (literally).
- You are injured or dying.
- A client is having an emergency that will detrimentally affect their business.
- Your house/office/ is in danger of being destroyed by a natural disaster.
I am sure there are some other instances where it is okay to allow a distraction. What these are MUST be determined by you. Set the boundaries with your staff and enforce them.
Interruption – “Hey Robz, can you take a look at this ad? It seems to be underperforming.”
Boundary – “Of course, I have some time at 3 p.m. Pop that into your calendar, and we’ll take a look.”
Interruption – “I seriously do not know what to do about XXX. She’s not doing her job, and it’s stressing out the team.”
Boundary – “Gather all your notes on this person, and let’s set 1:30 p.m. aside to look at this matter. We’ll plan a coaching call with XXX.”
The day goes on like this, ALL DAY LONG. But if you’ve prioritized your daily list, you can let your team know that although you might not be available to deal with their “emergencies” on the spot, you recognize that the problems are real and that they will get proper attention when time is scheduled for it.
Your 5 Steps
As promised, here are the 5 simple steps:
- BRAIN DUMP – Write down all the to-dos rolling around in your head. All of them, even if it’s just “pick up milk”.
- COLOR CODE – Green for work/business, Orange for personal (pick whichever colors you want).
- PRIORITIZE EACH LIST– From 1 to 10. Give each task a number. All of the greens will have a 1-10,and the Oranges will have a 1-10
- REWRITE THE LIST IN ORDER – From 1 to 10, rewrite this entire list. Business/Work on top and Personal on the bottom.
- TAKE A PICTURE OF THE LIST – Remember this step, as it will save your butt when you’re out and about.
Tools I Use
I’m a big fan of the following time-management tools:
- Passion Planner – I’ve been using this planner since it rolled out on a Kickstarter campaign 5 years ago. It has tracking pages in the back that I use to keep up with things like:
- Credit Card Payoffs
- Miles I run
- Courses I need to complete
You can find your own here and receive 10% off – Passion Planner
- Best Self Tools – These are cool pads I use to write action plans – BestSelf
- Frixion Pens – Wonderful, truly erasable pens and highlighters – find them on Amazon or at Target
- Google Calendar – Syncs to all of my devices, and I can share my calendars with my team.
- Calendly – You have to check out this free tool.
Now that I’ve shared a few pf my productivity tips and tools with you, send me a message on Facebook at @MeetTheRobz and share some of your favorite tools with me. Maybe I’ll love them as much as you do!
Robin Wilson is the co-owner of SCP Agency.
She is a self-proclaimed social media guru and specializes in social marketing for auto dealerships. She has also been instrumental in teaching auto dealerships how to market through social media to their existing database and shows them how to make sure that they do not become victims of conquest marketing. She is a marketing coach to all and has become a leader in Facebook marketing strategies in the U.S.