The most memorable advice I ever read regarding to-do lists is this:
- Make a list of all you need to do.
- Prioritize the items from most important to least important.
- Do the first thing on the list.
- Tear the list up, throw it away and do what you want the rest of the day because you’ve already done the most important thing!
I like it! It isn’t terribly practical and I don’t advise trying it out at work for an extended period of time, but you have to admit it’s kind of intriguing.
Even though the suggestion may not work long term, it does have one thing going for it – the need to pay attention to the most important thing on your list. And I believe the way to do that is to get it done early in the day.
When I get to work, there are usually very few people on my floor. I like to get there earlier than most because it gives me about an hour of time to get things done with little chance of interruptions. You can bet that as more people arrive, the day quickly fills up with conversations, meetings, phone calls, emails, etc. That makes it all the more important to be certain you carve out the time as soon as possible in the day to get done what absolutely, positively must be done.
Eventually, time runs out and/or you’re just too physically tired to do more. You don’t want to reach that point and then realize you let the urgent crowd out the important. It is far better and infinitely more satisfying to know that within a few hours of arriving at work you have knocked off the biggest tasks of the day.
Leap year lesson #13 is Get important things done early.