Have you ever left work feeling like you worked nonstop all day, except you have absolutely no idea what you did? It was like you were there, you were working, but nothing worthwhile actually happened.
How about the constant interruptions all day? You sat down at your desk this morning knowing generally what you needed to get done, then the phone rang, or your boss walked in, or your buddy down the hall chatted you up all morning about his weekend at the beach. Now it is four thirty, and just like before you have nothing to show for the day’s work.
You’re likely not alone. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the majority of your team is struggling with the exact same frustrations. The problem is, you can’t help them if you don’t help yourself first.
Turn your day around
It all starts with having plan. Then you have to remember your plan. Finally, you have to implement your plan. Stop leaving success up to fate and instead choose what you will do with your day before it starts.
Step 1: Find and use a task management system. I currently use Microsoft OneNote. I really like this program because I can have multiple to do lists all in a row. I have my immediate to do’s right up front which are then followed by long term projects. The long term project eventually find their way into the immediate to do list. Another alternative I like is Google Keep (free and easy to use).
Step 2: Plan tomorrow’s tasks today. Before you go home each day decide on three tasks that must get done tomorrow. Write them down in your task management system. This step has drastically reduced my stress levels at home. I no longer wake up in the middle of the night thinking about what I have to get done the next day.
Step 3: Refresh and execute. Open your task management software as soon as you get into work in the morning. Remind yourself of your 3 must do’s and then get them done. Don’t waste any time or let something else hijack your day. By getting the essentials done first, you have opened the rest of the day up to deal with unexpected fires that will flare up.
Step 4: Repeat. At the end of every day, go back to step 1.
Help your tea
The hardest part about this is staying on point every single day. It takes commitment and discipline to make these practices become habits. It is even more difficult if you are trying to translate these skills to your team.
So what do you do?
Have a meeting. In fact, have two meetings
When I first told my team about this new system I had discovered, I was sure they would all jump right on board. I waited that entire week to hear about a team member’s self-management success story. It never came because no one used the system.
So I started holding two meetings every single day with the entire team. One at the start of the day and one at the end. The length was restricted to ten minutes for each. In the morning meeting we talked about each team members three must do’s. In the evening we checked in on how each team mate faired. We also planned the next day’s must do’s.
This went on for about a month until we removed the evening meeting. We maintained the accountability system by having all the team members email me their non-negotiables at the end of the day.
The ultimate goal is to form such strong habits that we can stop the meetings altogether. As I have told my team multiple times, I do not care about micro-managing them. In fact, I don’t ever read their evening emails.
My ultimate goal is to provide them with a tool that helps them execute at their highest level every single day. By helping my team self-manage, I manage less, and get to focus on growing our business.