Plan your Day, Week and Year to Stay on Task
By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA on November 10, 2021
There is never enough time to do everything that you need or want to do. Therefore, the only way to survive and thrive is to be more efficient and effective with the hours that you have. This means you have to plan, prepare and organize your day, week and year. The following suggestions and ideas should help.
- Start by creating a master list of due dates to cover your tasks and responsibilities for the year. For example, use a Word or Excel document to list when your budget proposal, seasonal transportation schedule, seasonal game schedule for assignors of officials and other similar items are due. Naturally, everything should be entered in the order in which they have to be completed.
- Save and retain this master list on your computer for future reference. Since most of these tasks or responsibilities will logically fall at approximately the same time the following year, you have a template to use. Simply go in and make minor adjustments to add the new correct date for the next year and you are ready to go. After this point, all you have to do is add new items to the list. This is a much easier method than starting from scratch each year.
- Prepare a weekly “To-Do” document, again using a Word or Excel document, to include four or five items from your Yearly List. While you are not necessarily finishing any of these items, you want to get started and wrap up one small aspect at a time instead of having to face the enormity of the entire, huge task. In this manner, you can ‘stack’ individual completed parts until you have the finished project.
- Jot down all the items and tasks which you need to complete for the following day. While many individuals may try to put everything in priority order, which makes sense, go a step further. Try to list things to be accomplished at logical times during your day. As students arrive at school prior to homeroom or their first class, for example, they may typically stop in your office to pick up a form or to ask a question. While you want to get something accomplished during this time, you will be interrupted. In this 45-60-minute time slot, therefore, tackle items that do not require serious, deep thought and tasks in which you can easily start up again.
- Take advantage of small gaps in your daily schedule. If you have 10 minutes before a scheduled meeting or appointment, try answering a few email messages.
- Email yourself your daily To-Do list as an attachment in the evening after you have finalized it. In this manner, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to put this document in your briefcase in the event that you are not a morning person.
- Highlight each task or item on your To-Do list in a contrasting color, perhaps red, when you complete it. By doing this, you have an easily discernible view of what has been completed and what still needs your attention.
- Create a folder for your daily and weekly To-Do lists and file them at the end of the day or week. If you take this step each year, you will have very good documentation with the date at the top of each list of what you actually accomplished. If questions or issues arise, you have a good reference source.
- Do not automatically put items that were not completed during the day at the top of your list for the following day. You still need to consider priorities and the time slots that you have available the next day. While the remaining things on your list still have to be completed, they don’t necessarily have to go first.
- Avoid the impulse or inclination to multi-task. Going back to correct mistakes takes additional time. Concentrate and do each task right the first time and you will ultimately get more done.
Once you become a master planner and organizer, your professional life should get easier. While you will still have the same number of tasks and responsibilities, you should be more efficient. This advantage may help you to survive and thrive. Great planning may be your salvation.