Step One: Touch it Once
How often do you pick up something on your desk, read it and say, ‘I have to take care of this, but I can’t deal with it right now’? If you do that a few times a day with a few different things, by the end of the year, you would have spent an entire month rereading information without taking action. So, if you touch it, move it to the next step.
Step Two: Make lists, but stick to the six most important things
Practically everyone makes lists. People often have lists with 25 to as many as 40 items on them. Long lists are the perfect way to be busy, but not productive. When you have a long list, your energy is focused more on trimming the list than it is on being productive. Each day, pick the six items that will produce the highest level of results, put them on your list, and finish all six things by day’s end.
Step Three: Plan how long you will spend on each item
You’ve started your day by making a list of the six most important things. That took two or three minutes. Now take another minute to plan how long you will dedicate them. Most people who use these steps find they get more important work done in less time because their time is focused on the most productive tasks.
Step Four: Plan when
You next need to plan WHEN you will do them, and build in time for the reactive mode. For example, if you are interrupted by frequent ‘got a minute? ‘ meetings, plan a fixed time when you will accept those types of meetings. Unless it is an emergency, do not allow people to come to your desk and ask if you’ve got a minute! Many top executives plan their day down to the minute. Everything is done according to a schedule. Scheduling time is the key to time management.
Step Five: Ask the results
The things that produce the best results are generally the most difficult. They get left off of the list or are scheduled at the end of the day, causing them to get bumped to the next day, and the next, and the next. Schedule important tasks in the beginning of your day. Cold calling or trying to get appointments are the things that produce the best results. However, they often get pushed off by average salespeople. After you make your list, ask yourself if the items on it are the ones that will produce the most results.
Step Six: Will it hurt me to throw this away?
Of all filed information, 80% is never referred to again. With this time management idea, I began to throw away four out of five of the items I used to keep. It’s been 10 years, and I cannot think of a single time where it has hurt me