I spent a couple of days last week onsite at a client’s headquarters, seeing individual managers for back-to-back, one-on-one time management sessions. Highly accomplished global executives, almost every one of them struggled with finding a good and reliable system for keeping track of everything they needed to do. Meetings were easy: kept on their calendar and managed by their assistants. But the calls, writing projects, meeting preparation, reading, research, and long-term initiatives were far more elusive.
Scattering your tasks and reminders between a variety of post-it’s, notepads, multiple planners and calendars, and your email box is a recipe for time management trouble. Hours are wasted transferring information, second guessing what to do next, and worrying about what might be forgotten.
Having a single, reliable to-do system puts you in command of your days by providing a complete picture of everything you need to do. Prioritization is easier when you have full context. And you are more confident staying focused on the moment, when everything is present and accounted for.
Your to-do list becomes an extension of yourself, so you have to pick the right one for you. What have you chosen for yourself? Do you like paper or electronic? Do you keep a master to-do list, integrate your calls and actions into your daily plans? Do you keep your own to-do list, or get help from your assistant?
Haven’t found the right system yet? Decide whether paper or electronic system is the best fit for you by answering the following questions.
_____ Your thinking flows easiest when writing things down, pen to paper.
_____ Physically writing things out helps you remember them better.
_____ You tend to remember where on a page you wrote something. (“The phone number is green ink in the upper right-hand corner of the page.”)
_____ Your thinking flows easily typing directly into a keyboard or through a stylus.
_____ You have a good memory for dates, numbers, and chronology.
______ You have constant and easy access to your computer list for regular reference and updating.