We’re All Busy… What Your To-Do List Says About You
by Maria Iams
Many of us use a to-do list. Whether it’s in our heads or something we put on paper, it’s gratifying when we can cross tasks off. However, a lot of clients tell me they don’t have time to focus on what they need to—especially when it comes to management and coaching their direct reports. Furthermore, feeling a time-crunch impacts mindset; people aren’t present and can come across distracted and scattered in conversations. What we know is that mindset plus behaviors defines “executive presence”—and prioritizing a to-do list can not only help with time management, but also help to ensure you’re showing up as the best version of yourself.
If you are in this situation, trying to manage multiple priorities of various importance and timeliness, I recommend prioritizing your to-do list. Think about all of your responsibilities during the day and week and place them into one of three categories:
Priority list 1: important and urgent tasks
Priority list 2: important but non-urgent tasks
Priority list 3: unimportant and non-urgent tasks
This process allows us to feel more in control of how we’re spending our time.
Priority List 1
We need to plan how we will accomplish all the important, urgent tasks in Priority List 1. We have to set aside chunks of time during the day with NO distractions. This is critical… a distraction costs us 25 minutes of time. It takes that long to get focused back on the task at hand.
Priority List 2
Once items in Priority List 1 are accomplished, we can decide how to handle the tasks in Priority List 2, moving them up in urgency or down in importance.
Priority List 3
Something others have experienced is that when the to-do list is prioritized, items on Priority List 3 often get delegated or dropped. This is in stark contrast to how we typically spend our time—on these items—because they take up less mental demand and it feels good to cross them off the list. But they are part of the distractions that take us away from the critical work of Priority List 1.
If you want to implement a time-management strategy, be more present with others, and exude more gravitas, try prioritizing your to-do list and let us know what you think.