Being effective and productive in your work means focusing on the right things and saying “no” to a lot more things than you’d think. Of late, I’ve been using a tool I call my “6 List” — it’s an an approach that I grabbed from the book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, by Chet Holmes.
TO DO LIST TOO LONG?
One common problem for the working professional, is having a daily to do list that’s just not achievable. We list out the important things that need to be done. Sounds great! But if we added up the time it’d take to do them all, it’s about 4 days of work we expect to pack into one day.
Even if we haven’t done the math, subconsciously we know we’ll never finish it all. Often, we give up before we start or get mired into doing the things “in front of us” versus what’s most important. Then, when the end of the day comes, we haven’t even made a dent in our priorities.
6 THINGS, 6 HOURS
In his book, Holmes talks about how in an 9 – 10 hour work day, we should identify the top 6 things that must get done. We should expect that our actions on them for today will total about 6 hours. If the 6 things total more than 6 hours, then some management of expectations (yours, your team’s, a client’s) should replace one of the 6 things, so your 6 List is achievable.
6 HOURS + UNEXPECTED STUFF = A FULL DAY
You need the 6 List to account for only 6 hours because you will need the rest of the time in your day to manage the unexpected things that WILL come up. Some of those unexpected things can just get done. Some will need to replace one of your items on your 6 List (re-prioritization). Some can be deferred to a later date. But that deferment takes a little management (to make sure you’re equipped to be reminded to do that other thing at the right time).
KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE BALL
Once you’ve got your 6 List, you need to keep it near you to make sure you’re sticking to it and to make sure that the unexpected things aren’t going to keep you finishing your 6.
I’ve been using this technique for a couple of months and I’ve found it quite helpful.