Time and Task Management: 6 of 6
Step 5: If an emergency comes up, or you reach the end of your list, stop and do another prioritization.
So, you’re moving on down your task list, and everything’s going smoothly…until you get that email, or that phone call. It’s the all-time critical, emergency fire that you absolutely have to do, and your priority list doesn’t matter.
Or, you hit the end of your prioritized task list for the day, and it’s only noon, and you’ve got five hours left.
This particular Step should actually just be titled “Repeat Steps 1 through 4 for the day” because essentially that’s what it is. Reevaluate your time (and how much is left in your day), reevaluate your information, prioritize all your tasks (even if it means changing the priority level of some of them), and then go back to working down your list.
Obviously, if you only have one Critical task that shows up on your desk you need not completely scrap your to-do list and start from the beginning (since a Critical will just go to the very top). In that scenario, make a note of where you’re at and set your task aside with your list, and work on the Critical. It’s top of your priority.
On the other hand, if you reach the end of your list, it’s time to start over again.
Why the obvious Step? Because I miss it a lot.
The reason I make this its own Step is that I have to actively make a note to myself that I am not throwing my task list away simply because a Critical to-do shows up in my email. Instead, I add it at the top of my task list, and begin work on it immediately. Once it’s completed, I go back to the task I was working on before the Critical showed up.
And, on the flip side, sometimes I get to the end of my task priority list and I’m like, “Wow, I’m done, what should I do?” and I’ve gone from marking off items on my list to sitting and staring at the new to-dos piling up in my Inbox. This is because I had to train myself to stop reacting to every email or phone call that came in…but only until I had a chance to put it into my Priority List. If you hit the end of your priority list, it’s time to go back to reviewing emails and phone calls (and however else you get your work), and re-do the list.
And if you’re flat out of things to do for the day? Congratulations, I want to meet you and ask how the heck you’re an out of work. I mean seriously, at the end of my most productive day there are still windows to wash and trash to take out. Or maybe that’s a sign that you should start marketing and do some sales….
Congratulations, you’ve come this far up the Steps!
I hope this series of blog posts has been helpful to you! I know I’ve already learned a lot in the weeks that I’ve been posting these, and I will no doubt have to do a revised “Time and Task Management,” but in the meantime here is what I had learned up to the start of this series. Likewise, let me know if you think of anything to add to my tips – I always appreciate learning more!
Time and Task Management Series:
5 Steps to More Effective Time and Task Management (1 of 6)
Be Realistic About Time (2 of 6)
Schedule Time for Prioritization (3 of 6)
Prioritize (4 of 6)
Work Down the Prioritized List (5 of 6)
If Emergency Re-Prioritize (6 of 6)
Time and Task Management Includes Break (Bonus)