Organizing Your “To Do” List Using The ABC Method.

A “To do” list refers to the list or table of the tasks that need to be done in a given time, and the duties arranged according to their priorities. To ensure all the jobs are organized according to the priorities, it is essential to use the ABC method to categorize the task. The ABC methods assign the most important and urgent task letter A and those are the things which require completion first. Letter represent tasks that are not urgent, but they are essential. C refers to the jobs that are not important nor urgent and get the least priority.

Therefore there are several benefits of using the ABC system in your working area or your activities. By using the ABC method, you will be able to attend to the most urgent task before doing the others. Some task needs to be done before the time expires because after the time is over, you will not be able to do them again. Therefore in this article, we are going to look at how to use the ABC method of organizing your “to-do” list. Some of the top tips include  

1. Ensure you keep an excellent ongoing record each day

If you are a very busy person with a lot of things to accomplish every day. It is essential to ensure you prepare a “to-do” list that will guide you on what to do each day. When you do not have a “to-do” list each day, there will be higher chances of doing things that are not essential in that day. Therefore the first thing to consider is to ensure you have an ongoing “to do” list. Since some vital task can arise, ensure you always update your list daily or weekly. 

2. Include the essential things in your list

Some of the essential things that you should include in your list are such as due date of the tasks, name, a brief description of the job, the required time to complete, date and the task name. Those details are essential to ensure you give the right task the needed priority. If you are dealing with office work that involves different people, ensure you indicate the person required to handle a particular job and at what time.

3. Review your “to-do ”list

It is essential to consider your “to do” list before you begin to categorize the list according to the ABC system. The purpose of reviewing the “to do” list is to ensure you have included all the task in your list. Therefore if you are preparing a “to-do” list for one week, assure that the list contains all the functions that you are required to do throughout the week. Also here you can break the immense task into the smaller jobs and indicate the time needed to complete them.

4. Prioritize your list

At this step, it is now the time to prioritize the tasks in the list to ensure you work on them according to their priorities. Make a table which is assigned letters A to C. The table should include the time needed to do specific work. Also, the due date should be included on the table.

What priorities should you assign to letter A?

The task that should be assigned to letter A should be a very urgent one. These kind of jobs are the ones with minimal time and are very important. Also, the tasks which should be included in the A table should be done very urgently.

Priorities assigned letter B.

The tasks that are in the table named B are the ones which are essential but not very urgent as compared to the job in A. the task in this category is not very time-critical. They can wait for some time before their completion. For instance, if you are a business person who needs to deliver customers’ orders, you should start with the ones that need to be performed within the shortest time possible. The duties with few remaining days can be put on table B while the ones with few hours on A.

Priorities assigned letter C.

The kind of task that is included in this category are not urgent and also are not necessary, but they should be done. Some of the things to assign here include the party invites, interruptions, and some social invitations. 
However, if you have several tasks in each of the three tables, AB and C, you can arrange them as follows. In A, you can have A1, A2, A3, and many more. The A1 should be the task that needs to be done urgently, and others can follow. The same thing can be done on the other tables. 

Conclusion

Therefore after considering the above discussed ABC method of organizing your “to-do” list, now the other essential tips you should know to include estimating the time for each activity, ensuring you follow your ABC method in your list, follow your schedule, learn to reject some offers, be accurate and do everything as planned unless unavoidable circumstance arise. Therefore by considering the above-discussed tips, you will be able to organize your “to do” list and succeed personally or professionally.

Related References

Quote – Time is like money

Time is like money; the less we have of it to spare, the further we make it go.

— H.W. Shaw

The Value Of A To-Do List

Let’s face it; we all forget sometimes. With the copious amount of information our brain stores, it is extremely difficult or to just put it plainly, impossible, to recall all of them. For this reason, we usually need something to help us remember what we are supposed to do and at what time. A to-do-list is one of the best ways to do this. So why are to-do-lists important to have? Well, let’s find out.

  1. It helps you save time

The fact that time can neither be stopped nor reversed makes it one of the most precious things in the world. When making a to-do-list, you usually write down when certain activities should be completed especially those with deadlines. This helps you complete them early enough so that you don’t rush hours to the deadline and end up doing poor work that could potentially lead to loss of clients or even your job. Moreover, you get ample time to complete all your other tasks. We would recommend setting time limits for all your activities. This makes you even more productive. 

2. Allows you to set priorities 

Letting your head organize your work as you go is like playing Russian roulette. You are typically leaving everything to chance, and soon enough, you will end up failing to accomplish a more urgent task simply because your head dint have it on the top priorities. Making a to-do-list, however, allows you to arrange your tasks from the most important to the least important. By doing so, even when your head is flooded with other thoughts, you are able to remember what task needs to be looked at urgently. In short, you will never skip an important task.

3. Helps you reduce stress and anxiety

Everyone wants to have a stress-free work life, and the vision of such a life varies for most people. However, we can all agree that when you’re happy, your family is happy and your boss or client is happy then you are less stressed in life. Now imagine a situation where you keep on waking up in the middle of the night to complete work you should have done during the day because well, you forgot. First of all, you will keep disturbing your family with your movements. Secondly, you will be panicking because you’re working on a limited time. Thirdly, the work you will deliver might not satisfy your client. So to summarize this, neither your family nor your client will be happy, and this will, of course, increase your stress level. With a to-do list, you are able to avoid such problems. As a matter of fact, just having it gives you a sense of confidence that you will be able to finish the tasks required of you. This already reduces your stress the moment you wake up in the morning to work.

4. You are able to monitor your progress

We all love it when we put a tick or cross out an accomplished task on our to-do-list. It usually shows progress. Whether it was a personal goal like shedding off some extra weight or a professional one like making your first $100,000, you are able to see your progress and achievements. This usually motivates you to even go an extra step and get that body you desire so much or even make more money from your work. This is the power of writing down what you want to do. It shows you just how far you have come and how far you can go.

5. You become a more organized person

Prominent people like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have a system. They know how to organize themselves in a way that helps them get things done faster and efficiently. That is why they have achieved so much in their life. The main reason for having a to-do-list is to keep you organized. It helps make tasks easier and more manageable. It also shows that you have a plan. A person with a plan is more likely to achieve his/her goals faster and more effectively than one who just dives in aimlessly.

Conclusion

As you can see, a to-do-list not only improves your memory but also makes you more productive, less stressed, organized, and motivated to get on with your work every day you wake up. So get your to-do-list notebook or app and start planning today.

Time is a Resource

How many times have you dealt with the concept that “Time is a resource”? Probably, many. But in the many times you have come across it, did you understand the weight carried by these four simple words in this statement? Most people do not. And that is why time management is still a considerable challenge for most of us; however, it needn’t be so. The key to learning practical time management skills lies in understanding the statement: Time is a resource.

What Is A Resource?

Let’s start from the basics. Before we can look at how time is a resource, we need to know what a resource is. A resource is anything that can be drawn upon for aid or to function effectively. The most commonly used synonym for the word resource is an asset. Think about your job, your home, or your degree, or any other asset in your life; now, that is how you should view time.

Time, when effectively drawn upon, can aid in taking care of your needs, it can be an assistant in solving problems, and it can also be a tool for accomplishing results as well as success. But you probably know this already, the challenge comes at time management. Why is it so challenging to grasp time management?

The Paradox of Time as a Resource

Time management is not something that you can achieve overnight. It’s not something you read about, then the next day you are an expert at the time management lifestyle; it is a skill that builds up with time and with practice until the level of high efficiency. Because even though time is a resource, it is a paradox.

Unlike other resources, you cannot manufacture it, buy it, sell it, change it, steal it, borrow it, rent it out, store it, multiply it or save it for use in the future. All you can do is use it. And that poses the first paradox of time as a resource:

Time Passes Anyway

Whether you use it or not, time will still pass, and you can’t get it back. Even when you do absolutely nothing progressive or productive with your time, you are still spending it. In short, you are wasting away a resource which cannot be created, stored, purchased, or multiplied. Now, does that seem wise?  No. The intelligent thing to do is to spend your time better and wisely. The quality of your time as a resource is dependent on how well you use it.

Time Is Free

The fact that time is free is another paradox of time as a resource. How much value do you put on things that cost you nothing? Most of the time, not much benefit. Why? Because most times, you don’t have to work or sweat for free things. And that is the same case with time, and it’s free – you don’t have to buy it. You get 24 hours just by merely waking up every morning.

However, the idea that since time is free, it is not valuable is the misleading attitude that hinders effective time management. Imagine if you had to “buy” 24 hours every morning. Wouldn’t you plan for it and spend every minute of your time much better than you do right now?

Time Is Equitable

A day is finite and therefore boundaries, everyone has 24 hours in a day.  Having the same 24 hours each day does not translate to everybody getting the same results from their 24 hours.  Some people get more out of their 24 hours in a day compared to others, and it is all because of how well they manage and utilize their time.

Managing Time

It all comes down to how efficiently you execute the plans you make for your day. If you have 6 hours for sleeping, then get the best sleep in your 6 hours. If you have given yourself an hour to complete a task, then push yourself to do so within the time frame. Teach yourself to plan your hours of the day ahead of time and spend it as intended.

Time is one of the most democratic aspects of our lives. We have the power to make choices that will exploit the full potential of time as a resource and at the same time, choices that waste away the resource that time is. And now that you understand how valuable a resource time is, you can be more proactive and conscious about how you spend your time. Being proactive about your time is the key to effective time management.

Being Neat And Organized

How Being Neat And Organized Can Enhance Your Career Success

Laurence J. Peter asked this question a long time ago, “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?”

You may think you don’t have the time to clear your workspace. There is a deadline to meet. Your supervisor is expecting the report. Oh! There is this client you have to meet by 2 pm. Your desk is littered with documents from the last research, business cards from the last networking events and papers containing vital information of your clients. You are amazing; you have been doing well in spite of the mess on your desk. However, it is important to know that how you arrange your desk and workplace sends a sublime message to your prospective clients, boss and even your fellow colleagues about your professionalism.

“In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find – and I hear from other people that they agree – that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness.” –Gretchen Rubin

We all know how we judge others based on their physical appearances, the way they move their bodies and how they talk? Yet, we would not pay attention to how others perceive us.

We are in an era where a perception of competence and confidence is a huge currency. We live in a fast-paced world. Volumes of new information are breaking out in megabytes every second. People do not have the time to go through your resume at first sight. They want to look at your well-ironed suit, your desk, how you handle files and give you the job.

Organizing your workplace does not have to be a big-time work. It does not have to take days. When organizing the workplace is seen as an ongoing project, instead of a massive assault, it becomes effective.

It is going to be a massive error on the part of a work-at-home mom to think that tidiness and cleanliness are for full-time employees who have 9-to-5 jobs at massive corporations. For the home-based entrepreneur, the home office can be seen during a video conference. All materials that are not related to the work at hand should be removed from view.

I’m quite an untidy person in a lot of ways. But order makes me happy. I have to have a clear desk and a tidy desktop, with as few visual distractions as possible. I don’t mind sound distractions, but visual ones freak me out.

Joanne Harris

The degree of tolerance for distraction is different for everyone. Nevertheless, it has been proven across ages that zero mess equals maximum productivity.

Many people are aware of this and they look online for solutions to getting tidy. Others seek answers from their families and friends because they are getting to understand the importance of being neat and tidy to their career.

Are leaders born or made? This is a question that has been a form of serious debate since the industrial revolution of the twentieth century. A similar question that is often asked is, “what are the traits that determine career success?” These questions have led to several kinds of research finding the relationship between neatness, cleanliness, and success.

10 Reasons Neat and Organized People Are More Successful and Have Improved Work Efficiency

There are several reasons to maintain organization and cleanliness at work. Here are the top ten reasons to spur you into developing an attitude of organization and cleanliness:

1.      Neat people conserve time.

In the corporate and business world, time is money! The time spent looking for the right papers among a pile of materials sitting on your desk is precious time wasted that could have been converted into preparing yourself for meeting with the boss, investing in making a good first or actually get things done. Moreover, regular cleaning gives you structure.

2.      helps in boosting the Morale of employees

Being organized breeds confidence and ultimately, success. A tidy and clean workplace brings a positive outlook and strong impression towards how employees view their jobs. Several research efforts have concluded that workers who take pride in their working environment tend to maintain filing systems, organize their own desks, clean up after themselves and work more effectively together.

3.      Neatness and Organization creates a sense of professionalism

A neat and tidy workplace creates an atmosphere of professionalism for business owners, employees, and clients. It shows that a company pays attention to detail, tidiness and meticulous planning to clients and colleagues. A messy office, scattered papers or important files out of place can give off the impression of lack of pride in the job to the boss or potential clients. This may lead to loss of business opportunities.

4.      Neatness and Organization at work enhance efficiency

It is obvious that a chaotic environment will hinder efficiency. The amount of time spent on non-work related activities like finding where you placed the management file will be poured into the job. This makes you more efficient. An organized workplace motivates workers to reduce work-related-stress, enhances productivity and saves time.

5.      Neatness and Organization reduces safety concerns

A messy workplace can present health and safety concerns. For instance, when an old food is kept in the refrigerator for too long, it can leads to illness when consumed by an employee. The work environment should be spacious for easy movement. Objects that can cause injury should be taken off the floor.  Workers’ compensation claims will be reduced when a clean, safe and organized workplace is ensured.

6.      Cleanliness and Organization breed satisfaction

You know the feeling you have when you walk into a clean environment smelling fresh? Generally, it puts a smile on the face. The same is for employees. It is often said that satisfaction and success are two different concepts but if the workplace is clean and organized, you can always feel satisfied going to your office after closing a client.

7.      Cleanliness and Organization reserves assets over the long term

We have been focused on people. Let us now focus on those expensive assets in your office, such as hard floors and carpets. When they are not being cleaned regularly and with the right cleaning products, the scratch-free shining floors will become old.

8.      Cleanliness and Organization saves money

When you maintain a policy of cleanliness and organization, you will stop replacing the same items yearly. Many assets when properly organized and cleaned will be of perennial usage to a firm. However, when they are not properly maintained, they will need to be replaced regularly. This can cause a huge financial toll on a business in the long run.

9.      Cleanliness and organization create a success ripple effect

There is a reason while SEAL men ensure that they lay their beds every morning. Success begets success. When you maintain cleanliness and organization, you are sending a message to your subconscious that you are a successful person and capable of replicating that success in your business and career.

10. Protection of sensitive documents

When documents are littered on your desk, you may be leaving yourself vulnerable to intellectual theft. Ensuring that files are properly kept and cataloged is your first step towards security. Many secret corporate data, as well as clients’ information, have been carelessly leaked to the media and competitors due to a messy desk. This has led to cases of several lawsuits. This is why companies now implement the “Clean Desk Policy” (CDP).

Clean Desk Policy (CDP)

A clean-desk policy (CDP) refers to a set of corporate rules determining how employees should leave their working space after the workday is over. The policy requirements generally call for the employee to clear the desk and surrounding area at the end of the day from clutter and papers.

This sometimes implies filing unwanted documents away from view, shredding them, placing folders back on the cabinets and organizing files coming in and going out.

The clean-desk policy is often specific to an organization but the common elements of a CDP include:

  • Instructions on how the desk and surrounding areas should be kept
  • Detailed information on who enforces the policy 
  • Punishment guidelines which often ranges from a fine to warnings.

When implementing the CDP policy, organizations create contracts with detailed instructions addressing the above points. Accountability and understanding of the policy is guaranteed when the employees sign the contract.

While the employees are majorly expected to keep their work-desks tidy, the implementation of the CDP is ensured by employers to ensure easy adherence. Simple steps employers can take range from providing adequate storage space to guaranteeing access to a shredder for the employees.

Employees at companies like UPS have been adhering to CDPs for years because there is a culture established by James Casey that encourages employees to keep their offices free of clutter, to strive for order and to portray an atmosphere of professionalism to their clients. CDPs are becoming main practices of many organizations today, because of the information security compliance regulations such as the Data Protection Act and ISO 27001.

Although CDP helps a company is protecting sensitive corporate and clients’ data from being slipped by careless handling of the employees to the privy eyes of third parties, it helps employees overcome distractions which may hamper workplace productivity.

Ten practical steps to improving efficiency and having a successful career by developing a culture of cleanliness and organization

1.      Purge your workplace

Empty, de-clutter, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Take a quick look around your office and notice the things that you haven’t used in a while. Pick one area at a time to avoid stress.

2.      Gather and rearrange

Gather all items that are out of place and put them where they belong. Ensure the right catalog and filing system for all your files. Hence, you will be able to know where to look when you need a particular item.

3.      Establish work “zones”

When you are a stay-at-home entrepreneur, you may sometimes work in your pajamas. You brag about this. While this is cool, it is important to have a home office. Also, decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office.

4.      Ensure close proximity of items you use often

Items that are mostly used for the same purpose should be placed within reach. Things that you seldom use should be stored away.

5.      Revise your filing system

We are in the digital age and the need to store paper files has decreased. Figure out documents that you can store digitally. This will reduce the need to keep stacks of papers. If you are storing files on your computer, ensure that you are doing regular back-ups.

6.      Archive your files

When you are done with a task or a project, put all of the materials together and file them. Your “working folders” should be for projects in progress.

7.      Straighten your desk

At the end of the day clean up your desk, so you have a clean start the next day. This tip is very important. You definitely do not want to be doing yesterday’s task today.

8.      Control your inbox

We no longer use snail mails and postal services. E-mail is a convenient medium of communication, but it can be a major distraction when not properly managed. Ensure that you empty your spam inbox, unsubscribe from newsletters that are not beneficial and you will take control of your inbox

9.      Get your layout right

This is dependent on the nature of your work and the task at hand. Nevertheless, put frequently-used items on your dominant side.

10. Reassess frequently

Keeping a clean and organized workplace requires frequent upkeep and assessment. Ensure that you make a weekly scan of your office to make sure everything still deserves a spot on your workspace.

When you follow these actionable steps to being neat and organized, it may cost a little time, but the rewards of being organized are highly rewarding. Your clients and colleagues begin to have a new found respect for you and your confidence is boosted. Most importantly, when you are neat and organized, you are on a fast-track towards career success.

Repeatable Project Management

Effective project management is a repeatable process.

— Bonnie McCullough

The Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule)

Generally, speaking the Pareto Principle falls, also from Economics, is in the category of ‘Majority Affect’ concepts and, basically, is:

80% of the value is contained in 20% of the elements.

This concept is frequently used in time management and business to express the need to focus on high-value high return items when setting priorities and expending resources.