When business is on hold, it’s time to get organised

You might have a bit of extra space in your diary at the moment while the COVID-19 pandemic effects our working practices and schedules. So here’s my 3 step view on how you can plan and prepare your time so you’ll be on the front foot when some semblance of normality is restored.

Step 1

Start by working out what your work principles, rules and working practices are so you can feel in control. Read mine, but create your own.

  1. I need 1 week notice on meetings, unless you are my client/line manager 
  2. I need 1 week response time on emails, unless you are my client/line manager 
  3. I only take requests from my client/line manager.
  4. I will ask my client/line manager if this is what they would like me to do
  5. I do not always use instant message capability. I am not an incident manager
  6. I do not usually accept phone calls outside of working hours – 8:30 – 6 pm or weekends
  7. I do not work from the office 5 days per week
  8. I do not join meetings that don’t have an agenda
  9. I do not need to be involved in every detail of every project or operational change
  10. I eliminate all non-value adding activities and I remove tasks that are not worth the effort. I outsource or delegate where possible
  11. I automate or streamline anything that cannot be delegated
  12. I prioritise the deliverables I have agreed with my client/line manager, anything else I will see to when I can or I will selectively ignore
  13. I spend at least 20% of my time thinking and reading (8 hours per week) 
  14. My scope is what I have agreed up front with my client/line manager and I will work on that as a priority for the length of time of my plan
  15. Part of my role is about developing skills and relationships, I will dedicate 10% of my time to that (4 hours per week)

Step 2

Now conduct a To Do Download to give you some clarity on what you need to do and improve your productivity over the coming week. Follow the steps.

  1. DIVIDE: a piece of paper into main categories of your life (Financial/Vocational/Mental/Spiritual/Family/physical/Social) 
  2. THINK: on Sunday or Monday first thing, or on a weekly basis where you get a quiet 30 mins, put all the things you need to do into the relevant life categories. Think hard at this point, and think harder still! Use active words and break down/chunk large actions e.g. not ‘Team Meeting’, rather, decide on participants / schedule Team meeting / prepare agenda  
  3. CULL: Remove anything that isn’t important, e.g. does Susie, your neighbours daughter really need a birthday card?
  4. SCHEDULE: Schedule the entire list on your calendar for the next week (my experience is that I can only handle 20 to 60 tasks in a week, depending on size of task). 
  5. COMMIT: Stick to your calendar as closely as humanly possible! Any new tasks that come in during the week, apply your principles, rules and working practices to your backlog!

Step 3

Do a review at the end of the week to improve your self awareness, self management and relationships. Answer the questions.

  1. What was great about this week?
  2. How are my stress levels? What steps did I take to reduce my stress levels?
  3. What fears or beliefs are holding me back and how can I upgrade those?
  4. How would my team describe me?
  5. What negative attitudes are holding me back and how can I overcome those?
  6. What did I do really well this week?

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