Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow
This puts the famous quote on its head, yet provides an easy but critical tool for your productivity. In today’s high speed world of now, everyone expects to have to do things immediately, but what difference would putting it off until tomorrow do for your productivity and value of service?
In Mark Forster’s book ‘Do it Tomorrow’ he explains how on day one you start by putting everything you are behind on into folders where you can’t see them (email, documents, lists etc). Then collect all your incoming work through the day, and plan it into day two, batching things together such as email, calls, creative tasks etc. Aim to clear everything the following day, or schedule it across multiple days if tasks are longer.
If anything is too urgent to leave, write it down on a ‘critical’ list and complete it that day. Never do the simplest action without writing it down. This is part of getting into a routine.
First thing every day is ‘back log clearing’. Spend some time clearing through the back log of tasks you previously filed away. When you have finally finished them use this time first thing for other tasks or projects you want to get sorted.
If you follow this simple process you will always be on top of your current work, and be clearing the backlog. This will give your mindset a much better perspective rather than always playing catch up by wading through old tasks.
It is important to give things the right priority. Most things that come up during your day are merely distractions to your schedule and not true emergencies that should be acted on immediately.
Only work on the real emergencies for today, those things that really can’t be postponed for 24 hours. The important part is not to assume that everything is needed today. If you are not sure, check if a deadline of the next day is acceptable. In most cases it probably is, and will often surpass the person’s needs and expectation anyway. This gives you the space of planning it into your tomorrow. It becomes part of your planned schedule, and not an interruption to your productivity today.
By being more in control of your time and less reactive, you can give your focus to each task. By not trying to fit in something to a hectic day, you are also less likely to overlook something that needs addressing. Improving your level of service or quality of product to your customers.
Often it is a sudden mind distraction of a thought of something that needs sorting. You are deep in a project when the thought of ‘Must email Mr Smith’ just pops into your head. If you just think ‘I’ll do that later’, your unconscious mind will continue to mull over that thought, making sure you don’t forget or even composing the email in your head. This sudden though is now affecting the project you were working on.
Instead have a daily piece of paper for these sudden tasks and thoughts that crop up. Somewhere to note them down. Get them onto the paper and out of your head, so they can be planned into tomorrow, or completed if critical for today. At the end of the day, or a scheduled moment, go through the list see what needs dealing with or scheduling for the following day. Once completed or scheduled, mark them off the list.
If you go through your day flitting from one thing to another, and shoe-horning in anything else that crops up, you will be in a state of confusion and waste so much extra time on reactions. By using the ‘Do it tomorrow’ method you will always be working on scheduled and current work, creating a positive feeling of control and calm. A much better way to spend your time.
If you want to read the book for yourself here’s the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00L845MZK/