Time management is always important, but even more so in this time of COVID 19.
The virus is all about disruption, and sometimes we forget that could also apply to our daily routines.
How long has it been now? It seems as though we have been in the pandemic quarantine for months, yet I can trace back to March 13th, 2020 as being the date when it officially started for me. That’s 4 weeks ago from today, as I write.
Time almost literally stopped. I found myself in the midst of the tsunami, having to hurriedly prepare for life under quarantine, and that became a problem for all of my regular work that still needed to get done.
As I finally caught up on email and daily to-do lists recently, I realized that they all stopped on that fateful Friday the 13th. It seems I’ve been a bit distracted since then, as have we all.
When the brain is in survival mode, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything else.
I had to re-invent how I tackle my daily/weekly/monthly to-do list. I set about to experiment with some different approaches. I actually made a game of it, trying different techniques every day.
- Set aside time on the calendar for strategic work
- Hold myself accountable with a partner
- Change how I listed items
- Tackle lower priority items at night after office hours
I was trying to find a new way to get it all done when an old way came to mind.
I love the story from 1918 (ironically, the time of the last major pandemic in the world). Charles Schwab was the president of Bethlehem Steel. He was in search of better ways to get more done for himself and his team, and so he hired a management consultant named Ivy Lee.
Lee had a method for time management. He was so convinced that this method would work, that he told Charles Schwab to try it for 3 months, and then send him a check for whatever he thought the method was worth. So, Schwab and his executive staff tried it for 3 months. At the end of the time, Schwab wrote Ivy Lee a check for $25,000 (over $400,000 now).
The method is simple yet powerful. In my “corona confusion,” I remembered it and tried it out again:
- At the end of each workday, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
- Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
- When you start the next day, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
- Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
- Repeat this process every workday.
I can tell you this works! I think the basic premise of why is that it is so simple! It also forces you to focus on what is most important – your priorities for the day, one at a time. It helps you to ruthlessly prioritize the most important work. I’ve found that the things that didn’t make the priority may not have had to get done anyway. It also keeps you from multitasking which studies have shown is much less effective than a single focus.
Is it time to reinvent your daily work and priorities?
Please remember to be kind to yourself and others. You’ve been through a lot. We all have. Maybe there really are some things that don’t need to get done during this time.
Please try the Ivy Lee method above and see if it may bring more productivity to your day. Also, I am still offering a free coaching session to all of you through April, to talk about the impact of the pandemic, or anything else on your mind. Please schedule here https://calendly.com/upcoached/60min.
Lupe S. Wood, MS, PCC, is a certified Career/Executive Coach. She coaches individuals and leaders to career fulfillment, transition, and advancement. She also consults for results with businesses and solopreneurs. Her background includes 12 years in senior leadership for a Fortune 100 corporation and 7 years as a coach, with a Master’s degree in Organizational Effectiveness and Executive Coaching.
For more information, please visit my website at www.upcoached.com