These troubled economic times have transformed many of us in the Graphic Arts into senior level executives. What I mean is that we must all manage a long list of multiple priorities on a daily basis. Each and every day we are asked to get more done with fewer resources of every type. So, success is now defined by our ability to prioritize and organize the many tasks we must complete each day.
My preferred method of daily organization is to sit at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee and my Moleskine notebook after the family has cleared out around 6:45am each day. I review previous to-do lists, look at emails that have come in overnight, and decide what needs to get done and in what order. This process takes no more than fifteen minutes and almost guarantees a successful day in which much will get done. The bad news is I only get to do this about half the time.
On the days that this does not happen, I have two techniques I use to get myself motivated. Technique one involves stopping everything I am doing closing my eyes for thirty seconds and trying to determine my number one priority and then starting work on this task. I refer to this as the “leading task method.” Technique two involves stopping everything I am doing and choosing the three tasks that would be easy to complete and get me rolling for the day. These three tasks are jotted on a post-it-note and worked one at a time, in order.
My conclusion is simple – stick to the written list method whenever possible. I have firsthand knowledge that it works. I have also seen the written list work for three very successful men I have known.
The first is my late father, who from a very young age, I observed always working from a written list. For Dad, a written list even applied on days off to make sure all the work around the house was completed.
The second is the late Frank J. Marek who owned The Marek Group. While I did not know Frank well, I had the opportunity to work with him often back in my consulting days. He always had a hand written list of the day’s priorities.
The third is Ray Prince, who I observed almost 25 years ago at a TAGA conference writing out a list one morning with the title “Hot List” at the top of the page. I asked Ray about the list and he simply replied that it was his daily to-do list which was written freshly each morning.
While my ultimate success story has not been fully written, my Dad’s, Frank’s and Ray’s have – as my grandfather Harry taught me many years ago – don’t argue with success.
In my case without the list every morning there can be no focus – without focus there cannot be execution – without execution there can be no success.