Several months ago, I was asked to speak at a conference on how to find time to work on the important, not just the urgent. It was an easy presentation because it mirrored a regular conversation I have with GO System graduates. During the GO System, we talk about 5 decisions we must make and how to implement each decision. Today though, I would like to suggest a 6th decision to everyone: Should Be Done’s.

“Should Be Done’s” include those things you WANT to work on but don’t necessarily have a firm due date. Examples may be setting up a social media strategy for your organization, planning a promotional event, or creating a new program, service, or product to offer your customers. “Should Be Done’s” represent progress for you or your organization but yet the “fires” of the day always take precedence over them. The same is true on the home front. Don’t we all have a project or two (or two hundred) for our house but we never seem to tackle them because of all the little things that get in the way?

In addition to never seeming find time to do them, “Should Be Done’s” also present a problem in that they often clutter our day-to-day objectives. I have worked with many clients who struggle with organization because they have their “Should Be Done’s” mingled in with their daily priorities. These are separate tasks, requiring separate focus and separate skills.

The solution? Below is what works for me and others with whom I have shared it.

1.       Determine how you want to store your “Should Be Done’s” – electronically or via paper. Choose ONE!

2.       As tasks come into your life (or as you go through piles), decide when a task is a “Should Be Done”. (It has no firm due date. It represents growth or improvement for you or your organization.)

3.       Place the “Should Be Done” in the desired storage container IN PRIORITY ORDER.

a.       If storing them electronically, log it in the respective software, perhaps Outlook tasks or OneNote.

b.      If storing them via paper, use a binder or perhaps index cards in a small file box.

c.       Make sure the most important “Should Be Done” is the first one in the list / container.

d.      You may also want to consider categorizing your “Should Be Done’s”. For example, I have 4 “Should Be Done” binders. They are labeled Administration, Sales, Marketing & Advertising, and Program & Service Development. When I think of or see something I should do but know it is not something I have to do within a certain timeframe, I jot it down on paper and place it in the respective binder in priority order with the “Should Be Done’s” already in there.

4.       Schedule time with yourself, preferably weekly, to work on the next “Should Be Done”.

a.       Be sure to guard that time, don’t allow interruptions via email, phone, or face-to-face.

b.      Be reasonable but intentional with the time you schedule. Don’t expect to schedule 8 hours on a given day and think you’ll be able to focus the entire day, but also, don’t squeeze in 30 minutes between appointments and think you’ll make any progress.

c.       Do not be discouraged if you don’t actually finish a “Should Be Done” during that timeframe, but rather, be encouraged with whatever progress you make on it, progress you would certainly not have made had you left it mingled with your daily activities.

5.       Once a year, go through your “Should Be Done’s” and re-prioritize or remove as needed.

A Thought to Ponder

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh