How would you like to execute all your tasks for each day, and do that every day? Sounds great, right? Sure, with the right steps taken, you can get that done easily. Accomplishing all your tasks for the day will help you have a great day, bring you closer to the ultimate achievement you’re set for, and give you satisfaction. It’ll also contribute hugely to your overall success. After all, that’s what success is all about — accomplishing all your set goals and meeting your targets.
If you fancy the feeling of being successful and would like to go through each day achieving your goals, here’s how to pull that off in 7 simple steps:
1. Write Out a Basic Plan for the Day
Write out a basic plan, showing all the important things you want to do for the day. You can do this using a computer, a mobile device, or going traditional with a real pen and paper. It involves evaluating and prioritizing the day’s activities in the order of their rewards and benefits to you. You’d have to do this before you start your day.
It’s about getting organized; it’s about getting to know what to do and how to do it; it’s about getting things in place on paper and in your mind, so you wouldn’t lose your bearings or become disoriented in the middle of the day, thinking what to do next.
Make the tasks in the list as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) as possible.
You don’t have to include 30 tasks that require at least 2 hours each to accomplish; there are just 24 hours in a day. My personal strategy here is to try to make my list have 3-5 MITs (Most Important Tasks) plus a couple other non-MITs. If you end up accomplishing just the MITs, you still had a great day. The non-MITs can be outsourced or delegated if you’re time-challenged.
Obviously, planning your day ahead involves some thinking and visualization, where you forecast your day before you even live in it. You can even go a step further by doing this the night before. I usually do this while carrying out step 7 below.
2. Set Time for each Task
After writing out a basic plan for your day, allot time to each activity. Possibly, indicate when to start the activity and when to end it. Visualize how much you hope to accomplish the task within the stipulated time frame, and of course, keep it SMART. Doing this will put you in control of your time and day. It will also help you measure your progress, manage your time effectively and get more done.
3. Follow Through Meticulously
It’s not just enough to write out a plan and allot time to the activities; you actually have to follow through strictly if you want to achieve results. This entails getting up to do what you ought to do when it’s time to do it.
The truth is, if you shift things, it could change everything. Let’s say you had fixed to write an article from 10 a.m to 11:30 a.m. And so when it was time, you opened you computer, logged in, and just as you were about to open your word processor, something happened: A notification box popped up out of nowhere, showing that you have a new email in your inbox. So you head over to Gmail to check it.
Then to FB to quickly see how many new Facebook likes your page just got; then to Twitter; then your favorite blog. And before you know it, it’s already 30 minutes into your article writing time. But just because it’s so necessary to write the article, the time has to be shifted from the initial 11:30 to 12:00, eating into the time for another activity. And the cycle continues.
If you ever get into that kind of cicle, the next point can come in handy.
4. Give Total Attention to the Task at Hand
It’s easy to get distracted in the midst of the activities and happenings around you during the day, but you have to make up your mind not to be distracted. Staying focused is important for the accomplishment of your tasks. If you really want to get something done, give total attention to it; concentrate all your strength on it, psychologically, physically and otherwise.
Clearly, this is against multi-tasking. You really cannot get much done by trying to do everything at the same time. Single tasking is the way to go. If you find yourself struggling with staying focused and giving total attention to the task at hand, here are some things to do:
- Create a Distraction-Free Environment (DFE) for yourself, whether physically or virtually.
- Get rid of everything that can sidetrack you.
- Stay mentally alert and be watchful of yourself.
- If you have to take breaks to avoid burnouts, do so.
- Monitor your progress and redirect your focus if it seems you’re diverting.
5. Give Precedence to those Activities that Produce Quality Results
To have the best results, you’d have to concentrate on the most important activities and give them your best shot. By important activities, I mean those activities that will help you most in achieving or getting close to your ultimate goal. You will have to do this because during the day, several unimportant activities may pop up, looking to steal away your time.
And the unfortunate thing? You may not realize that your time is being “stolen” until it’s 5:00 PM when you suddenly realize that you haven’t done much for the day.
Here are some steps you can apply to overcome this:
- Make sure your activities are focused on the achievement of your greater goal.
- Cut off any and every trivial and unnecessary activity.
- Write out at least 3 MITs you’d like to accomplish for the day.
You’d also have to beware of “time-stealers.” Time-stealers could be unimportant and unnecessary activities, social networks, or even friends who always come around to yak and chew the fat. Avoid them like the plague.
6. Be Sensitive to the Schedule. Respect the Time
Not only should you be sensitive to the scheduling and timing of your day, you should also treat other people’s time with respect. For instance, if you told someone to come see you by 3:00 PM, when the person gets there by the said time, don’t keep the person waiting until 4:00PM. If you were unavoidably in the middle of another meeting, see about calling the person up before 3:00 PM to re-schedule the appointment.
Don’t keep people waiting gratuitously. They might have gotten at least one useful thing done while waiting and doing nothing. On the other hand, if you find yourself waiting, make productive use of the little blocks of time you have. Maybe while waiting for a meeting to start, queuing up at the ticket station, waiting to catch a flight, or even while sitting in a bus, get something done.
It could be a simple, streamlined task like replying/sending an email, making a short important call, signing up for a service or a helpful task like reading. Whatever it is, create a list of 5-10 minutes tasks, ready to be executed at any given “block of time.”
Remember what the sixth part of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues says:
“Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
7. Go Back to Your List of Basic Plans and Evaluate
This comes at the end of the day. Write out a list of the things you’ve done since you woke up. This will help you measure your progress and set new goals. It’ll also help you redirect your focus on the tasks that need to get done. If after evaluating your list you’re not satisfied with the results you’ve gotten, don’t complain but just do it better the next day.
Accomplishing all your tasks for each day is doable and it comes with a great feeling. It’s also important because meeting your daily goals contributes immensely to your overall success and to the achievement of your ultimate goal. When you want to have a great day, apply the productivity hacks above and you’ll be set to getting that done, stress-free.
Featured photo credit: john.schultz via flickr.com