I’m not the biggest advocate for just simply getting work done. However, I will explain the simple system I use in my own life to be more productive and complete my work efficiently.
After running my own business for the past seven years, I have become obsessed with finding new strategies that will help me become more productive and more effective.
The way I run my own todo list is actually pretty simple! My method stems from a book called Scrum by Jeff Sutherland which explains how teams can create environments that are more productive for everyone. I enjoy the principals of this book so much that I have found a way to incorporate them when completing my own daily todo list.
So here’s how it works:
First, I use a free software called Trello, which you can find at www.trello.com. On trello I create a “board” which I label My Personal Action List. Inside my board I create a series of different lists. The first list you should create is your todo list, or as Scrum calls it your product backlog.
While creating this todo list you can add “cards” which give you the opportunity to braindump ideas into the list. You should be adding all of your ideas, unfinished todo’s, and missing assignments; eventually you should get in the habit of adding all of your ideas into this list as soon as possible.
After creating the todo list, you need to begin prioritizing all of your items you have recently added. If you are familiar with Stephen Covey’s work, then you are familiar with the four quadrants of time management. The four quadrants of time management include categories of urgent and important as well as nonurgent and not important. You need to start by asking yourself the question: what is the most important item I need to be working on right now?
What action item will have the biggest impact in my life or in my business?
It is now your constant responsibility to look over your list and continue reordering it throughout the week.
I recommend using a plug in called Scrum for Trello which allows you to assign a point value for each assignment based off the Fibonacci Sequence. In order to assign point values you will want to take a moment to measure the output or the work effort for each of your tasks. For example, taking the dog for a walk could be ranked a two whereas going to the grocery store could be a five. The idea is that the higher the number, the more effort or work it takes to complete it.
Now it’s time to create list number two: in progress. As you begin to proceed with each action item you simply drag that card into the in progress column. I benefit from this because often times a task could require a waiting period or assistance from other team members. Placing the card under the in progress list helps signify that it is in the process of becoming completed. You should be constantly making sure that this list stays as short as possible. The last thing you want to do is forget about these in progress assignments, you should always be checking in with your team to make sure these actually get finished. This list is also a great way of evaluating how well you are multitasking and making sure you aren’t starting more projects than your finishing.
Finally, we can create our completed, or “done” column. Make sure you have a clear definition of what done looks like, once an assignment is 100% finished it is place under this column.
Each week I like to create a new “done” column so I can compare my productivity. All of my points are added up for each separate column, so I am able to match up the numbers to see which weeks I was being more productive or less. This is also a great way to realize if anything is getting in your way or slowing you down. Now that we have measurable, tangible proof of our productivity it becomes easier to improve going forward.
The key of this entire todo list system is that every time a new idea or todo item comes into your head it goes straight to the bottom of the todo list. I like to spend time every Sunday organizing my list for the upcoming week. I also try to take time out of everyday to organize my tasks to ensure I am focusing my time on the most important ones.