Use the 80-20 Rule

Having a properly prepared to-do list to work from may be the best tool in your time management tool box. Use your to do list effectively and achieve more. With disciplined use, it can help you stay on track and minimize distractions.

The key to developing that list is to make sure that those items you highlight as priorities truly are the priorities. It is a sad fact that many people give a high percentage of low priority items a high priority status.

There are probably two or three big items at most that will make the biggest difference. Concentrate on them first. Review your list throughout the day and re-prioritize as needed.

“You normally don’t have to look hard for specific performance challenges that ready people can tackle. Sometimes these are low-hanging fruit – challenges so easy that you can expect early wins. Sometimes the most pressing performance gaps are more obvious than easy.”

Douglas Smith, Taking Charge of Change

Five Days of Action

Today, make a list of the three most important action items you could work on in the upcoming week that will make the biggest difference when completed. Don’t necessarily choose the projects that are crying loudest for your attention but the real priorities that count.

Starting today, work on project number one through to completion. Let everything else but the essentials wait. Finish number one and move on to two and three. Only allow yourself to put the task on hold and move on to the next one if you have to wait for more information or someone else’s input.

You are being very focused and effective. Picture your project or task completed. Stick with it and keep momentum. If it involves others, make sure they are clear about their roles and have taken ownership of completion. Align both people and resources to completion.

Imagine concluding your projects earlier than would normally be expected, which is likely if you are following the power of three. By following this approach you are freeing up space for your mind to work only on what is before you. It’s not cluttered with ‘shoulds’,’got to get at its’, delays and interruptions.

Celebrate wins. Celebration tells your brain, “we did it!” and proves to yourself that future successes in this area are as attainable as this current success.