When I was in public service and in ministry work, especially involved in hiring, it seemed every job description called for the ability to multitask. And every candidate listed multitasking as one of their strengths if not their greatest strength.
Watching how others and I performed our job functions over the last too large number of years, I’ve learned we can really do only one thing at a time if we want it done well. Multitasking is really knowing the status of where everything else on our plate is so we can quickly pick it up when we get back to it.
This requires the ability to manage our own behavior and to allocate our time.
We will make time for things that are important to us.
A To Do list is helpful but I’ve found it’s only a beginning. I need to do two things with my list.
Prioritize the List
I need to prioritize it. Not everything on it is equally important. Not everything on it needs to be done by me or, perhaps, at all.
As a self-employed writer, my writing must be my highest priority on any To Do list. And it is. Priority items are those things that must be done. My writing is number one. Paying the bills is another priority item. I mark the priority items with a star or the letter A or something similar.
The next level of priority are those items that are necessary but don’t cross the threshold to highest priority. These are marked with the letter B.
The items of lowest importance are those that are not crucial—you guessed—they get the letter C. Over the years I’ve learned someone else can either do these or they don’t need to be done at all.
When I worked with a staff, I looked to see which tasks could be delegated to others. Being a one-person organization now, I am the staff. Focusing on the A’s first is more important than ever.
Create a Calendar
Next, I take my now-prioritized To Do list is put the items on my calendar. If I don’t block out time, they won’t get done or they’ll be done too late.
The highest priorities get scheduled first. Recently my wife and I made the decision to adjust my schedule to allow for what we call a Honey Day—a day for us to do things together. It maybe a project around the house, or errands, or something fun.
The second priorities are scheduled next and they may spill over into next week or later depending on the time I have available.
The lowest priorities don’t get scheduled but I have the list nearby if I find some time to work on them.
At the end of the day, I review the list and reschedule or adjust as necessary.
What tools have you found helpful to keep yourself on track and get stuff done?
Henry McLaughlin is a co-founder of The Intentional Novelist, as well as Associate Director of the North Texas Christian Writers. His first novel, “Journey to Riverbend,” was the winner of the Operation First Novel Contest. His latest novel, “Riverbend Justice,” is now available.
Read more at henrymclaughlin.net or follow him on Twitter.