In today’s economy more than ever in recent times, making the most of the time we have is extremely important. Time is money!
Do you have a NOT-to-do list? Many people don’t, but did you know that the 80/20 rule applies to our time and to-dos just as much as the clutter on our desks? Today I’ll share some thoughts on how to start building your own NOT-to-do list. Put these tips into practice and you’ll be guaranteed to save you hours in your day!
Pareto’s Principle – The 80-20 Rule
The 80/20 rule has been in use in a number of scenarios for years. It essentially says that 20% of your daily activities are responsible for 80% of your success. F. John Reh from About.com wrote a great article on this principle and how it works.
The value of the Pareto Principle for a manager is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. Of the things you do during your day, only 20 percent really matter. Those 20 percent produce 80 percent of your results. Identify and focus on those things. When the fire drills of the day begin to sap your time, remind yourself of the 20 percent you need to focus on. If something in the schedule has to slip, if something isn’t going to get done, make sure it’s not part of that 20 percent.
Free Up Your To-Dos for Big Payoffs!
As you look at your day and how you are spending time, make sure that you are focusing on the big pay off areas — that 20%. Do this by growing your NOT-to-do list. Items that go on this list include everything that has a low payoff. They are likely things that you do unwittingly.
Author and renowned direct marketing expert Gary Bencivenga talked about an extremely successful executive that he knew that has a framed sign over his desk and a card in his pocket that reads “Is this leading me to my main goal?” The exec. checks the note multiple times a day to stay on track and is amazingly productive as a result.
Types of Things The 80/20 Can Put on Your List
- Time-wasting Meetings — if you attend regular meetings where little gets accomplished then consider putting it on your NOT-to-do list!
- Meetings That are Over but not Adjourned — many of my clients tell me about this time waster and I experience it too. The meeting you have attended has more or less fizzled into personal conversations…. get out while you can!
- Phone Calls With No Agenda — If you have individuals that call you “just to chat” express that you value them, but this is your work time and could you set up a time to get together at another time.
- Gossip — enough said!
- Email — You cannot avoid it completely, but can you really say that your big bang items are handled via email? Don’t start your day with email because you will frequently find that you lose time responding when you could be taking care of big bang items. Reserve your morning (or the time of day you are the most alert) for those highest-payoff activities. In fact, shut your email down so that you are not interrupted by the mail notification sounds or the temptation to check it. Pick a maximum 3 times during the day to check your email and stick to it.
- Phone Calls Can Go to Voice-mail — I have found as have my clients that when we spend a short time looking at the calls that come in, they are frequently sales calls or other pesky callers that are ruining your focus and not leading to your high payoff items. Turn the ringer off on your phone if you can. If you cannot turn the ringer off, consider set times during the day that you will accept phone calls. You can have an assistant or answering machine screen your calls. This one tip alone has helped me buy back a tremendous amount of valuable time.
Your Action for Today
Look at how you are spending your time and start creating your own NOT-to-do list. Delegate out what you can. Then, tell me what you come up with by commenting below in the comment section! I’d love to hear your thoughts. What things do you feel that you just cannot NOT do?
To your success!