I admit it.  I am a control freak.  I dream of long, perfect to-do lists with every task checked off at day’s end; a tidy, dust-free desk absent of piles and clutter; and being early to every meeting and soccer game.  Alas, with a busy job and a busy family (and Atlanta traffic), it’s an ongoing struggle.  Here are a few tips that help me better manage life’s daily demands and distractions:

  1. Combine professional and personal to-do lists. I used to maintain separate lists, but – consciously or subconsciously – the professional one always took precedence.  Personal and family tasks often lingered on their list for days and even weeks.  After all, those work tasks were the ones that got me paid!  But an enviably organized friend reminded me that scheduling a long overdue doctor’s appointment and a parent-teacher conference are as important as work AND often must be accomplished on a weekday during business hours, too.  One list is easier to manage and acknowledges that “real life” requires managing work and home simultaneously.
  2. Do the important stuff first. I used to kick off my days with the easy stuff.  It felt good to get a few quick check marks on the list.  Pareto’s principle (or the 80-20 Rule), reminds us, however, that 20 percent of our tasks yield 80 percent of the results.  Spend the first part of your day – when your energy is at its peak – focusing on the high impact work that make the biggest difference in your business and career.
  3. Delegate!  This one is important for both you and your team.  Can someone else manage a project or task?  If so, it frees up your time and energy for what needs your attention most.  It also gives a colleague or a more junior staffer the chance to build and showcase their own capabilities.  Creating professional development opportunities builds team trust, relationships, and collective capacity.  Be thoughtful about what you delegate.  Communicate why you need the help and why you think your colleague is best suited for the task.  Don’t merely hand off the mundane stuff you hate to do.

Want more tips? Check out our last post with 3 productivity tips.

Betsy Wallace
Betsy is committed to strategic growth and leadership strategies for small businesses. Prior to joining the CSR team and founding E. Wallace Strategies, Betsy was a Senior Relationship Manager with NeighborWorks America, the country’s preeminent leader in affordable housing and community development. In her nineteen years with NeighborWorks, Betsy consulted with network members developing growth strategies and sustaining partnerships, collaborations, and alliances to expand their impact in communities across the United States. She honed almost two decades of expertise in organizational development, executive transition, program evaluation, and governance as well. Betsy co-managed and served as a Coach for NeighborWorks America’s national Excellence in Governance program and served on the Faculty of the NeighborWorks Training Institute.