Whether working from home or in a busy office, getting work done can sometimes seem like an impossible task.
2 years ago I wrote 14 Tips on Working from Home, focussing on how to block out distractions and organise your day’s tasks.
However, there was still more I needed to learn about prioritising tasks. The phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know” was never more true.
For the 4 million people in the UK who work from home, this is a major skill to master. For far too long I’d get work done by doing a number of 11 hour days followed by a day or two recovering. Apart from being a bit anti-social, it was not that good for my health.
With the benefit of webinars, business books and experience, I realised I didn’t know steps 4-7 listed here. I now follow these 7 steps on a daily basis and it certainly has helped me to improve productivity.
- Start with a task list
- What is urgent?
Finding out what is really urgent is an essential skill mastered by the best PAs. Qualify the urgency of each task. If it was delivered 2 days later, what would be the implications? If there aren’t any, this is genuinely urgent. Colour green the first box of each one of these urgent tasks.
- What is important?
From your task list, what tasks are fee generating or are a major threat to your business turnover if not completed? Colour yellow the second box of these important tasks.
- Big Rocks and Little Rocks
I found this idea in a book by Chantal Cornelius of Appletree called One in Ten. She got it from her business coach, Melanie Greene. I believe she got it from a book by Stephen Covey. He doesn’t reveal his sources. Ideas are in the air. I digress.
Imagine you had to fill a jar up with rocks. You’d start with the big rocks, then slot in smaller rocks where you have space.
You can organise your day in the same way. Pick two big rock tasks. Colour in blue 2 of these tasks that are likely to take over an hour to complete.
- Prioritising Big Rock Tasks
Tackle 2 blue star tasks per day. Start your morning and afternoon session with a blue star task. Choose a blue star task with a green and yellow box. Don’t have any of these? Pick one with a yellow and blue box. No blue box tasks with a yellow box? Pick one with a green box.
- Prioritising Little Rock Tasks
Little rocks are 15 – 30 minute tasks you can slot in, in between the major tasks. Start with green and yellow box tasks. Once they are done tackle the yellow box tasks.
- Remaining Tasks
If you get all your star task work done before the end of the day, well done! Have a cup of tea. Now take a look at your ‘no star’ tasks.
These are the non-important, non-urgent shorter tasks. Complete as many of these as you can before the end of the working day.
For many, writing down a task list is the only bit of daily planning that people do. It’s just stage one, but it’s a vital one. Take a page of A4. Add a right hand column, one third of the width of the page. Putting 3 boxes next to each one, list all the tasks you can think of.
Try these 7 steps for one week. See if you work more regular hours and get more work done than in the previous week.
If you don’t, moan about it on this blog post