Wanted: Time Management Coach – Guaranteed Effective - GO.CO Blog

.CO ExclusiveRebecca Malik is the President at 17th and Riggs, an online source for contemporary furniture and lighting, where she helps you create a fresh, modern space.  Her site has been featured in well-known publications such as Southern Living and online with sites such as the popular Daily Candy. She is a blogger for WomenGrowBusiness.com, where she shares ecommerce and small business management tips.

Evidence of Effectiveness. Several years ago I took a short gig editing manuscripts for an aspiring novelist.  Middle-aged, he had already built an impressive career at an international development organization and was now energetically turning his vivid imagination into sci-fi manuscripts he hoped to soon publish.  He wrote in his “off-time” and had completed at least four full-length manuscripts by this point.  An accomplished, busy professional who made concrete progress towards achieving his dream, he shared with me his technique for accomplishing his most important tasks each day.

A look of self-satisfaction spread across his face as he silently pulled from inside his jacket pocket a small piece of paper about the size of half a playing card.  He was sharing something he felt to be very valuable. The lines on this paper were numbered 1-10 and he had listed between five and ten of the most important tasks he intended to complete that day.  These tasks, which related to both his existing career and his writing efforts, were very specific and challenging but absolutely achievable.  He explained to me that no matter what else he had to take care of that day, he always made sure that these items were checked off.  By doing this he was able to perform successfully at his day job as well as make steady progress with his writing.

One Hand in My Pocket. Most of us work more efficiently in an organized environment and he designed this portable list to display a succinct snapshot of the best day you can perceive.  It acts as the base for the rest of your activities – where you check in each time you have finished an item.  From such a starting point you are more effective in scheduling the use of your time and have a valuable visual of what needs to be completed in the moments available. 

I use my list to organize both business-related and important personal activities that must be completed that day.  It seems most effective when I logically organize the list sequentially and make sure that each item is bite-size (achievable) but important to your forward movement.  Each item’s description should be short and very specific.  In other words – be absolutely clear in what each particular activity is so that you can get right to work without stopping to recall additional details.  This is an excellent time to fine-tune your time and resource estimation skills so that you craft each activity to be achievable in and of itself.

Rewind and Consider. Many of us waste time figuring out what to do next or getting back on track after getting distracted by other tasks and activities.  This is the lethal stumbling block for other organization tools such as the classic “ABC method” and is at the heart of why this little piece of paper is so effective.  The ABC method and other, more casual task lists leave room for debate on order of importance and do not necessarily include a clear distinction between what must get done today versus next week or next month, leaving you without a clear end or logical outline.  For me, this means it’s likely that I will end up working on something of little importance because I’m overwhelmed by the list itself.  With the simple pocket list, five minutes spent planning ahead of time provides you with a super simple, organized roadmap for your day.

An Adaptable Approach. I simply loved this method and used it to different degrees over the years following my editing role.  It proved to be a fantastic way to get my thoughts organized and prepare mentally to act effectively and strategically throughout the day.

Fast-forward to today, when as a parent to a young toddler I now call much less of my time “my own”.  We all have busy personal lives that seem to grow more and more demanding as time passes.  Personally, I want to focus my full attention on my daughter when I am with her.  This means that I have had to be even more careful in how I spend my time away from her by strategically planning my “work” moments in advance.  As more and more little tasks pop up to distract me, the list has become even more crucial to my success.

Armed with this pocket coach for success it is easy to see that, over time, almost any goal can be achieved and any milestone reached, as long as you don’t run out of paper…  I hope that you find some aspects of the pocket list helpful and would love to hear about any task management methods you have found to be useful to your success and productivity.

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