Tips 171-175: Find the Shortcuts
Shrink Tasks To Get Them Done FasterWhen time is limited, you need to find the quickest way to your goal. Finding shortcuts is not about "cheating" or taking the easy way out--it's about becoming more efficient. For you perfectionists out there: Remember, it's usually preferable to have something completed (even if it's imperfect) than never done at all.
For each item on your to-do list, ask yourself: Is there a quicker way to get this done? Skipping certain steps can shrink one-time projects. Writing a proposal or thank-you note? Instead of starting from scratch, use a previously accepted proposal or thank-you note as a template, and just change the details.
Focus on CompletionTackling items on your to-do list can be a daunting activity when you don't focus on the payoff. Whenever you sit down to tackle items on your to-do list, ask yourself "What can I finish?" rather than "What can I start?" Break large projects down into smaller, completable steps. Energy and sense of accomplishment come from getting things done.
Empower Your SubordinatesHaving a team that works for you can take a huge chunk off your workload if you delegate properly. However, if they do not feel confident in their roles, they will be unsure about the work they are doing. If you're supervising people, empower them to make decisions so you're not constantly inundated with tiny questions. Next time someone comes to you with a problem they could handle on their own, turn it back around. Try these responses: "Can you make that call? I won't be able to get to it for two days" or "Come up with a few solutions, and then let's meet and talk about them."
Use the WADE Formula to Manage Your TimeOne of the most common mistakes people make when creating their to-do list is generating an endless inventory of everything in their heads--which is not particularly practical for getting things done. The secret sauce is creating what I call an "intelligent" to-do list, which goes way beyond just asking "what" we need to do; it addresses how long each item will take, and when we are going to do it--so that we can make realistic plans for each day.
The WADE formula is a practical plan for sorting through your to-dos, making wise decisions and feeling the unbeatable sense of accomplishment that comes with checking things off your list. Plan your to-do list intelligently and realistically so you feel excited, rather than overwhelmed. Try it:
W: WRITE IT DOWN. Record every meeting, appointment, to-do, call, and project in your planner, utilizing the monthly calendars, planning pages, and/or accessory notebooks. Once you get into the habit of consistently writing everything down in a single location, you'll stop worrying that you're forgetting something and will be able to actually concentrate on getting things done.
A: ADD IT UP. Estimate how long each task will take. Is there enough room in your day for all that needs to be done? If you only have four open hours but have scheduled six hours' worth of tasks, you need to make a few adjustments.
D: DECIDE. In most cases, once you add up your tasks, you'll discover that you have many more tasks than you have time for. When you reach the limits of your time, you need to make some strategic decisions. Use the 4 Ds (Delete, Delay, Diminish, Delegate) to create a more doable plan.
E: EXECUTE YOUR PLAN. "Plan your work; then work your plan." There's no point to making a plan if you aren't going to implement it. This means referring to your planner frequently and completing the tasks you set forth on the days you decided to do them. Once you've assigned each of your to-dos a place in your schedule, you are free to focus on the moment.