How to ace your daily tasks !

Let’s be practical , tools like Urgent-Important matrix are difficult to follow. I’ve tried to follow them many a times. But it is hard to keep up with as it offers no motivation at the end of the day. Moreover, most of organizational tasks cannot be completed without consulting your manager/ team. Hence, while we have done our bit and are waiting for feedback, the Urgent-Important matrix sits as it is without reflecting our efforts. I have used multiple formats, apps and even paid for a few but none of them gives me the motivation at the end of the day to feel satisfied.

It is proven that human’s work best when they see traction in the direction of their efforts. If that is true, why doesn’t any productivity solution reflect this research.

Here is my 2 Step Solution to have a great productive day. Try it out for a week and let me know if it works. It is based on the concept of Control and Energy. Control of any task starts with you, moves to manager, and comes back to you while the loop is being closed. And energy of a person varies as the day progresses. This is how my solution goes -

  1. Make a ‘To do / To discuss / To Close list’

Start by dividing all your work list into these three columns. Based on the control you exert over the task you can classify them. The idea is to have a very clear picture about what we can do. Often, we get demotivated since ‘we are not getting anything done’ . This chart will actually tell us if that feeling is true. The ‘To discuss’ column tells you things which need permission/ clarification from your colleague. Your job is to intimate them as soon as you put the task in this column so that your colleague is aware you are waiting for their response. The ‘To Close’ list is the most important. This tracks the final closing email, FYI notifications & other loose ends which need to be closed to makes sure everyone’s informed about the project or campaign. I personally am poor at ‘closing the loop’ and we usually tend to become complacent about this step since all the hardwork and decision making is already done. This last mile effort in the marathon is the most important and the most rewarding one (in terms of motivation atleast)

  1. How to use these 3 columns ?

Start by making this list the first thing in the morning. Re — writing this list everyday makes sure you classify them correctly and is a good daily review before you dive into things. Now that the list is ready, you need to approach it based on energy levels and control.

For example: In the morning, when you are fresh, tackle the ‘To do’ list. Getting things done when you your energy levels are at peak helps you get done more. In the afternoon after lunch, when your energy is dropping start your ‘to discuss tasks’ . This I feel, is the best time to follow up with people as they are relatively free after their daily chores. Dedicate an hour to only work on ‘To close’ list. This is the one with maximum reward and minimal effort. It will boost your satisfaction as you close those 1 or 2 important things just before going home. Go home feeling like a hero.

This work-list challenges the current productivity lists as this one completely focuses on the ‘Do-er’. What motivates the do-er , when is he feeling low energy and what is not in his control. One may argue that this inward looking approach could instill ‘blame-game or over delegating’ mentality. I feel such a thing doesn’t arise as the onus of completing the task is still on the ‘Do-er’ even when he is waiting for an item to be discussed. The list just brushes off stress of things outside the circle of influence.