So much to do and so little time to do it!

5 tips on how to get work done

By: Kelly Guzman

As I begin this adventure of starting a new company my “To Do” list has become increasingly longer and more complex. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done, so I’ve gone back to the fundamentals to help myself to plan my work and stay organized.

Over the years I have read numerous books about time management, delegation, leadership, resilience, and high performing teams. The common theme for these topics is that they are reliant on an individual’s ability to plan and execute. The old saying: “plan your work and work your plan” has become my mantra. AND, it works! Here are some of my personal best practices for planning my work and life:

1. Plan a “Strong Week”. At the beginning of each week, I write down my top 10 or so tasks and assign them due dates and milestones. With larger projects, this helps me ensure that I have what I need to get the job done. Next, review the list and confirm that it’s realistic and ensure that you plan for the unexpected. In my world there are always unknowns and urgent projects that seem to manifest, so plan for them and don’t overschedule your week. At the end of each day review where you are with your plan and reprioritize for the next day and the rest of the week. If you are like me and love checklists, you’ll get tremendous satisfaction from checking off the work and reviewing your accomplishments.

2. Know thyself. You need to understand when you are the most productive and do your best work. Plan the difficult tasks that require mental energy during those times and use a “Do Not Disturb” system to ensure you have focused time. If there are tasks on your list that have been there for weeks, ask for help or see if you can trade your tasks with someone who likes doing that sort of work. If you like budgeting and finance but don’t like writing, find the writer on your team and offer to do their finance work. Everyone will be productive and happier at the end of the day.

3. Make social plans. I learned this very early in my career. When you have social plans to do something you love (I love opera and hockey), you work very differently. You are very productive and get through your work quickly because you are focused on finishing so that you can get to your event. This goes hand in hand with work and life balance. Often some time away from our screens, in the company of those you love, doing something you enjoy is exactly what you need to recharge and get back to producing quality work.

4. Learn how to say no and mean it. This is harder for some of us than others, but you really need to learn your limits. It takes practice, so be mindful when you raise your hand to volunteer for a special project or a new job because it sounds exciting. Focus on what you want to learn each quarter, month, and week, then only volunteer for those things that will help you achieve your goal. Being overcommitted isn’t good for anyone, especially you, and you’ll end up burned out. If someone delegates work to you and your calendar is already jam-packed, sit with them to review your schedule and ask them to help you prioritize what you have on your plate or renegotiate due dates. Sometimes we as bosses are unaware of how busy people are, so speak up.

5. Simplify, simplify, simplify! The simplest thing that I do to stay organized is to have a place for everything and put whatever I’m using away after using it. I always know where everything is so I never waste time looking for something. It’s very efficient and you’ll have peace of mind.

"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." --Phil Jackson

At the end of the day, my best recommendation is to find a system that works for you and adjust as needed. In the coming weeks, each member of our team will be sharing their own best practices in the areas of project management, education, organizational integration, public speaking, and committee management. If you need some more tips on project management best practices, leave us a comment and stay tuned.