If you want to stand out and succeed in the professional world you need to be known as one who gets stuff DONE. There's nothing like a steady stream of successes to make your team mates and your boss think of you as the go to for things that count. People like this get to do the cool stuff, have more work choices, usually make more money and generally have a more fun and satisfying experience.
Great, but HOW? The secret is really simple, so simple that it seems unbelievable but it has proven itself time and again. Come closer, listen up. FINISH things. Wait, what? FINISH things, get them done, complete, dusted. In the business world nothing counts until it's done, because only then do the benefits start to show up. Trust me, your boss gets a bit grumpy with those that are always busy but never actually productive (delivering). Don't be like them!
Let's see how to make this simple miracle happen in the perpetual dust storm that makes a normal working day.
Build a list
Simple enough you would think. List out all you "to do" items but think about about what's happening here. These tasks are typically above and beyond the usual day in the life activities that are part of your work life. For example, if you work in a call center then making "answer the phone" or even "fill in my timesheet" is not useful here because you shouldn't need to be reminded. List out the special stuff you want to make sure you do more than the routine. Our call center person might have a task "take short course in communications" for example - not routine but still something that is a goal.
This is more art than science though so don't over think this step just try it out and change it up as you go. A very typical problem is making this list too long because once you get warmed up you can get carried away. If you put too much little stuff on the list it won't make the cut when you prioritize anyway, it just sits there on the list forever. Some ideas on things worth going on a list:
Something special that my boss wants
Something I've promised a customer or team mate
Something I want to do that I've been putting off
Prioritize & Track
This part is relatively simple really and there are lots of "productivity packages" out there. Get the list in there then move stuff around until the important things are at the top (or wherever the top tasks go). One useful technique to prioritize is to ask yourself, for each task, is this
Then you can decide to "Do, Decide, Delegate or Delete" as in the matrix below. There's more on this in our Time Management article as well.
Looking at the matrix you can see what I meant about the unimportant stuff! You don't even DO those things - one of the task/time management secrets. Shhhhh.
This is the crunch feature. You have to actually DO the tasks, not just stare at the list. Check out our Time Management article (in the references below) for ideas about how to carve out the time you need. Get in the habit of routinely working the list, make is as much a part of your day as everything else you do or it will never happen.
That's it - this part isn't complicated at all but you need the discipline and focus. If you aren't "like that" then start small and build up a few successes. They feel good and you'll want to take another step down that road.
None of these steps are hard, just try them out and see where it goes. You got this!