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Monday, September 04, 2006

One At A Time, Please (1)

Why It's Important

Most of us have more things to do than there are hours in the day. So to cope, we try to do a little of everything that needs to get done . . . and hope that sooner or later one of our tasks will actually get finished, so that it can be crossed off the ‘To-Do’ list.

You can recognise that you’re doing this if . . .
  • On your desk there are several different ‘jobs’ all in different stages of being finished.
  • On your PC you’ve got several different applications or documents open, relating to different things that need doing.
  • You have an In-Tray that’s full of stuff you’ve started, but not quite finished yet.
  • Your ‘To-Do’ list is just that - an unstructured list, with no sense of what should take priority when everything’s due today.
The thing is, that we frequently value action and activity over planning and thinking. So when faced with a stack of things that need doing, most of us just get busy. We try to nudge everything along, and trust to luck that sooner or later something will get finished. In itself, this isn’t such a bad thing - after all, you’re paid to work!

The problem comes when the boss / customer / colleague needs to know when a specific item will be finished. With everything moving along little-by-little, it’s really hard to judge exactly how much of the job has actually been done. Or how much time (and money) you’ve actually spent on it so far.

So its better to spend a little time planning, and you can focus your efforts on the things that matter, one at a time. You’ll be astonished at how quickly things can get done, and also how much easier it is to manage priorities and the unexpected.

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