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#4.05: The "Too Much To Do" Issue

Learn to deal with the day-to-day pressures of a high-tech lifestyle, with these tips from business-trends expert and futurist Chuck Martin.

1> Tame Your To-Do List
2> Eliminate The Email Monster
3> Manage Meetings
4> Like These Tips? Get The Book

1> Tame Your To-Do List

Ever notice that your list of things to do in a typical workday almost never gets finished, leaving you with more to do the following day? It turns out that 95% of executives and managers keep lists with 6 to 10 things to do at any given time and almost 50% get only half of the items completed on a daily basis. In many cases, the lists get longer throughout the day, which can be somewhat distressing. Lists are perhaps the most widely used method for managing tasks, and the variety of ways to use them is nearly endless. However, you must maintain that list to incorporate matters that are important to you and to the company. Get rid of the unnecessary, and delegate to others what you shouldn’t be doing. Once something is on your list, it tends to never leave until it gets done. Shorten your lists. Keep in mind that no matter what’s on your to-do list, the most important issue of the moment will bubble up to the top on its own. Roll with it.

THE LESSON: Never do what you shouldn’t be doing, always delegate to others, and most importantly, stay organized.

2> Eliminate The Email Monster

Use email to create incremental forward motion, both internally and externally. Always send emails that move something along, even if just a little. Use them to cut down on the number of internal meetings, keeping management focused on the tasks at hand. There is, however, the ugly possibility of being bogged down and controlled by the email monster. Organize your email to be easily accessible and understandable. Most importantly — deal with all emails either immediately or within the first couple of hours after receiving them. NFI Research shows that 68% of email received is internal, so treat the useless internal email the same way you treat junk mail. Though many managers and workers feel buried in a daily blitz of emails, the flow and selective storage of emails can not only reduce the number of unnecessary meetings but also can help manage daily, weekly, and monthly activities.

THE LESSON: Don’t let email control your day. Create a systems to ensure you’re on top of you inbox — and not the other way around.

3> Manage Meetings

Meetings can take over a large amount of time during the workday and keep you from important tasks. Before a meeting, make sure that all parties involved are fully prepared, knowing full well what the meeting agenda will be and how they will be involved. It is also important to remain focused: Do not go to meetings that don’t require your presence; you can gather the information later. Start on time, limit length to an hour, and end on time or early. Agree on the desired outcome at the beginning of the meeting so everyone stays focused. At the end of the meting, make sure everyone agrees on the next steps and identify who is responsible for each.

THE LESSON: Stay strict when it comes to organizing and planning meetings so you reduce inefficiency and save time.

4> Like These Tips? Get The Book

This week’s tips are from “Managing for the Short Term” (2002 Doubleday), By Chuck Martin. Get your copy at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385504357/

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