If you are like me, you’re always looking for ways to be more efficient and organized in getting your increasing list of tasks completed. At ConvergenceCoaching, we employ an organizational technique that allows each of us to have an “at-a-glance” view of our own “work-to-do” (“WTD”) lists for the week that allows for easier prioritization and better communication of our priorities to our team mates.
By doing so, we are more aware of bandwidth – whether some may have time for additional projects or others need to delegate, any dependencies on us for completion of other team members’ tasks, if anything we need to complete our work this week is missing from teammates’ lists, and what we can expect from each other when working toward common deadlines.
We often include what’s happening with us personally in our WTD lists, too, which can be a great way to catch up, especially if you don’t have a lot of social opportunities as a group or you work virtually like we do.
When creating a WTD list that represents what you are committing to get done that week, a few tips will make prioritizing easier for you and review easier for your team:
- Identify any travel or other extraordinary events that will occur that week (personal and professional)
- List tasks in an outline format – such as grouping certain work by client or work by activity and associated work underneath it listed numerically
- Highlight your billable work using the yellow highlighter
- Note “carry over” work that was not completed from the prior week in red
- Note any dependencies on other staff in blue
- Gray out work that was completed already before sending the list out
- Note some things pending that won’t happen this week, highlighted in pink, so others know they aren’t forgotten but are not going to be completed in the current week
We send our WTD lists out at the beginning of each week, ideally, with the first team member who completes their list starting the thread. Each team member replies to the last version of the collective list so all are together in one thread for that week.
When you get copied on others’ WTD, you should:
- Review all lists to ensure the important “stuff” for each person is on their list and things you are expecting from each other are represented
- Check if there are any assignments noted that may impact your work or ability to meet a deadline
- Identify work the writer has that can be delegated in whole or in part to you or another team member
- Spot problems with chargeability or productivity
To keep track of longer term projects or recurring tasks, I also employ a WTD spreadsheet that lists the category of work (marketing, client work, sales, admin, etc.), details about the project – including last communication dates or referencing a particular e-mail for the most efficient way to pull up additional information if needed, and the “by-when” date. By using an Excel grid, I can sort by type of project so I am able complete similar tasks all at once, which can often save time, or sort by the by-when date so I’m sure not to miss a deadline for an assignment that may have been given months ago or follow up when promised with a client or prospect. If you’d like a sample WTD spreadsheet, please post a comment below to request a copy.
It’s important to note that the WTD tools themselves are easy to implement, but none of the methods are fool-proof! You still have to use the tools and update your WTD regularly to see the benefit. For instance, if I get “busy” and don’t consistently go through my long-term WTD, I am not able to plan ahead as well for upcoming projects. And in the short term, I am most efficient when I take the time to plan for the week ahead with the shorter-range, comprehensive WTD list.
I hope you are able to use some of these ideas to make prioritizing your diverse list of tasks and keeping track of recurring work much easier!
What are your work-to-do organizational methods? How do you stay abreast of your teammates’ projects and interplay on mutual engagements? We’d love to hear your ideas, too!