Personal Productivity – Module 4

“Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it.”
– Anonymous

Keeping Yourself on Top of Tasks

Even after you’ve got a plan in place, it’s important to keep adjusting your plan so that you can stay in control of your time. This module will give you some ways to help you stay on top of your to-do list.





The One-Minute Rule

If you can do a task in a minute or less, do it! Here are some things that you can accomplish in 60 seconds or less:

• Check for new messages on your voice mail and e-mail

• Quick replies to e-mails

• Accept a meeting invitation

• Quick stretches to give you an energy boost

• Review new RSS feeds


The Five-Minute Rule

If you’re stuck on a task – can’t get started, have hit a roadblock, or just can’t seem to get it wrapped up – set aside five minutes each hour to work on it until you’ve hit the desired progress point.

Here are some ideas for putting this into action:

• Desk too cluttered? Set aside five minutes at the end of each hour to clear off one part.

• Report not coming along? Set aside five minutes each hour to work on a particular part.

• Inbox overflowing? Set aside five minutes each hour to work on clearing it out.

What to do When You Feel like You’re Sinking

No matter how well you plan and how organized you are, there will likely come a time when you feel like you just can’t get your head above water. When this happens, follow these five easy steps to get things back under control.

1. First, take a deep breath. Make sure that your mind is calm and clear before you begin.

2. Next, make a list of all the tasks that are outstanding. If there is a due date, mark it beside each item.

3. Now, look at your calendar. Create a plan for the most important items. Transfer these items to your tracking system (Outlook, productivity journal, day timer, etc.).

4. Identify the three most important items. Make those a priority for today.

5. If possible, start work on the most critical item.

Like other plans, you will probably need to revisit your to-do items and priorities once you have completed a few tasks. This plan, however, should help you get your head above water and get back on track.

Case Study

Colin ran around the office like a chicken without a head because he had so much to do and so little time to get it done. Mark stopped Colin in his tracks and offered to help him break down his tasks into manageable pieces. Colin had been excited and burst with energy at the thought of a solution to his mounting problems. Mark advised that he use a timer to dedicate 60 seconds to tear through small tasks and five minutes to barrel through larger chunks. Soon Colin went off to the races and arrived ahead of schedule thanks to the brilliant ideas shared with him. Colin felt elated and jumped for joy when he saw that he had inched closer to the finish line and could beat the timer and make his tasks disappear in the blink of an eye.