Imagine organizing paperwork for your bookkeeper only to find a Post-It note attached to the back of an invoice reminding you that a proposal is due . . . tomorrow! Depending upon your schedule for the rest of the day – and how much time you have available to complete the proposal – panic could ensue. A missed to-do almost created a missed opportunity!
This is exactly the situation my client, Barbara (name changed to protect the guilty) found herself in. She knew the proposal deadline was coming up – but she didn’t realize it was in less than 24 hours…until she accidentally uncovered the Post-It note.
Turning a to-do into done actually consists of 2 main stages . . . capturing the tasks, and having a system to make sure those tasks are implemented.
Let’s start with the capture portion. To reduce stress and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, you need to feel confident that you have a firm grasp of every to-do and project on your plate. Think about how many ways you get action items tossed your way – phone calls, text, face-to-face meetings, Slack, email, Voxer . . . and more! Your capture system needs to have a process to capture every action item from all of these communication methods.
- Identify all the ways you receive to-dos
- Identify how you are going to capture the to-dos from each method
- Fine-tune the capture method
In the case of Barbara, the information about the proposal came from a client while on a phone call. Barbara was walking into her office from her car on her way to a meeting. She grabbed a Post-It Note, captured the date, slapped it on her desk, and ran into the meeting.
Capturing items on Post-It notes is a very valid way of managing information. (I have 3 right now on my desk as I’m creating this post!) However, obviously, this method needs to be fine-tuned! A small tweak could be that Barbara collects all the Post-It notes at the end of the day into one pile, so they don’t end up stuck to random stuff!
Next, you need to be able to feel confident that you have a system to move all the captured items into implementation. It doesn’t do you any good to have a pile of Post-It notes that you never look at, or text messages that you “thought” you responded to but are actually sitting on your phone, read but unanswered.
A strong implementation method must be easy to use and easy to access. The system can be digital. It can be paper. It can be a hybrid. But it must exist – and it must be used for every capture method you identified above.
Barbara uses Trello to capture her to-dos. (You can use something like Trello, or a paper to-do list, or your online calendar.) And she does a great job putting every task that comes via email into Trello. She does a pretty good job of moving her to-dos out of Slack into Trello. She doesn’t have a great system (obviously) for moving her Post-It notes into Trello – and action items from text messages never get moved into Trello.
Barbara now has an easy process to make sure every to-do and project is in her project management system. She follows an end-of-day routine of checking all her communication channels for random tasks and puts them in Trello before she leaves for the day.
Now Barbara is positive that she has captured everything and has a plan to complete all the tasks and projects that come up, with no more lost Post-It notes!
Barbara was able to uncover her main productivity blocks. If you struggle to get the most out of your day as Barbara did, schedule a Time Thief Eliminator session.