It seems that every time I come out of a meeting I have another 6 or 7 things to do (Perhaps I should avoid meetings). These are added to my To Do list which is sorted into 3 categories: Firstly is stuff I think I need to do immediately and can action quickly; respond to emails, telephone calls etc... Then is less pressing stuff; report writing, reading applications etc…, lastly is what I call my ‘project’ stuff that will take a lot of time; long term schemes for developing, growing and improving the business and what we do.
It was after a long while that I realised that this approach is hugely flawed. What it means is that sections 1 & 2 inevitably take over my day, along with all the other business stuff that I am expected to respond to immediately. So I get in to work earlier to “deal with my emails”, but I still find that the important project work has not been done. Worse still, I have got to a stage where I have accepted that this is the norm.
It wasn’t until I was on holiday (after reading a very odd business book) that I stepped back and thought about it. I realised that my To Do list was driven by other people’s expectations and my misperceptions of priorities. It was a To Do list based on urgency NOT on importance. The most important stuff was at the bottom of the list and never got done.
So a very simple answer: Turn the List upside down!
Now my project stuff is at the top. I get in early but don’t even open my e-mails - instead I give a good hour of uninterrupted time to my project work. If I still struggle, I work from home, I only answer calls that might be urgent and I don’t even look at emails.
So important stuff gets priority and gets done.
Important Business Lesson: Have less meetings, take more holidays.