Tips for Effective Synchronized Tasking and Productive Time Management
"Our Best Foot First approach asserts that developing rewarding and constructive tasks contributes more to habits of success than any other formal technique for time or task management. When you genuinely want to accomplish the set of tasks you've acquired in your professional and personal life, you end up doing them much more effectively."
"Use Best Foot First's 8 Tips to make success your habit every day!"
Tip 1—Flexible Awareness
While working on any task,
include options to accomplish other important professional or personal objectives that do not interfere with your focus on the primary task . . .
“When you are a few minutes early to a meeting—drop in on a colleague’s office on the way—and do a 3-minute sync on another project. On the way to and from work, do chores that can typically pile up on the weekends. Spend your lunch break at the hardware store or ordering tickets to a game. Figure out ways to re-use the information you acquire during the day. If someone told a good joke, tell it at another meeting to spread the goodwill. If the information affects the outcome of what you have planned, be flexible enough to shift whatever it is that you're doing—saving time instead of waiting for a slower process to unfold. If the servers are down, start writing that proposal you've been putting off.”
Tip 2—Passionate Focus
Be passionate about one or two aspects of your professional work; find out more about them to apply to your current situation . . .
“As a technical support specialist, be passionate about something important for customers such as 'active listening.' Find out what active listening principles might apply to your written responses in trouble tickets. Assign yourself an 'above-and-beyond' task to implement when you get the chance. If you're good at copy-editing and you have researched and know a set of best practices or procedures to streamline work, create a cheat sheet or reference guide to distribute that helps everyone do their job better. If you have automated any of your tedious tasks, share them with anyone who is interested.”
Tip 3—Smart Recovery
Consciously choose to
re-energize outside of work instead of working obsessively . . .
“When you have a
deadline that can stretch over a weekend, make it due at the end of the day Thursday instead of
Friday. Use Friday to unwind and go to lunch with your team or brainstorm new
ideas—then, after working very hard, enjoy your weekend time off to re-energize for new challenges!!! Most people can recall when
walking away helped them solve problems better than spinning one’s wheels and
being counter productive.”
Tip 4—Constructive Talk
Talk to others more about what you accomplish without an expectation for praise and spend less time talking about the process or the problems you had . . .
"Plan what you say: 'During the last
quarter, we opened five new accounts and renewed seven. With the help of marketing and engineering staff, we were able to achieve our goals and are on target for even better results for the next quarter,' is MUCH better than saying something like the following: 'I was finally able to get marketing and engineering staff to get some backlog customer requests addressed. They have always held us up in the past. Somehow I managed to get them to come through [And, I think I deserve all the credit for this!!!]' No, you don't. Let your actions speak for themselves.”
Tip 5—Persistent Collaboration
Do not ignore
conflict with others who care as much as you do about anything you both
work on—instead, go “head-to-head” until the issue is resolved . . .
“Do not spend time
trying to prove how right you are. Instead, validate and add to the
approaches of others who care as much as you do, rather than getting in each
other’s way. As your approaches differ with others, try to get to the core of what they assume about your approaches and what you assume about their approaches. For example, always repeat back to them your understandings of their approaches and ask for more clarification. You will often find that that there is more information that you were not aware of while being entrenched in your own approach. They might gain from knowing how you perceive what they are doing. Keep in mind that their perception of your approach should not be forced—you do not need to be heard, they do. Make sure you are genuine in improving whatever it is that you both work on together.”
Tip 6—Actionable Queues
Nudge each of
your highest priority projects along by having them in “actionable queues” at
all times—try to hit “a home run” on a project when the field clears . . .
“Have all of
your projects available to work on by having a folder structure, quick links,
or spreadsheets available and/or open so you can scan and start and stop
any project you have at any time without having to 'ramp up.' Leave partial
projects open and available rather than opening and closing them every time you
need to work on them. Instead of throwing your hands up in the air when something does not go as expected such as a power outage or a cancelled meeting, quickly dive into one of your actionable items. In some cases, you might end up with the necessary time you need to focus on an extended project—which is when you can often hit the ball out of the park!”
Tip 7—Discerning Priorities
Distinguish when "good
enough" is better than "perfection” to maximize your available
resources and time as much as possible . . .
“Suspend making small decisions when the conditions that influence these decisions continue to change. Use the '80/20 rule'
to solve the top 20% of the biggest issues you have and you will end up fixing up to 80% of all your issues. The small decisions that you suspend will often resolve themselves and be much easier to make with additional information from your surroundings or as a result of resolving your more important, 'bigger' issues. In many cases, when you untangle the biggest knot in a pile of rope, the rest of the knots end up being much easier to untangle.”
Tip 8—Voluntary Assignments
Keep both “promise-to-do”
and “above-and-beyond” tasks in view while working on other projects . . .
“Have all types of 'promise-to-do' and 'above-and-beyond' tasks—which
usually don’t have formal deadlines—within view on paper, a white board, or on
post-its. They can be short organizational tasks you tend to avoid or more elaborate planning projects that require a range of details that you can address piece by piece. Address them whenever you need to shift gears or have a little time between other tasks. Pay attention to not only tedious tasks like updating a calendar, but also 'nice-to-have' items like recognizing someone on your team for a job well done.”