Keep Your Eggs in One Basket – Part 2

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on February 08, 2010 in: Project Management, Time Management Strategies


In the last blog I talked about improving your business productivity by minimizing the amount of in-boxes, in-baskets, schedules, calendars, task lists, and other collection points you have. In this blog, I’m going to talk about how you can do that well… with the assumption that you can’t eliminate all of them, but you can consolidate a place to gather the information altogether.

Step 1: Find a collection point that works for you. If you work in a time-sensitive environment (i.e., you have meetings and deadlines), a project management system or calendar might work for you. If you just do tasks with no specific deadline, your email inbox might be enough. It all depends on the kind of work you do, whether you have to associate files with your work, or whether you have to share information, or whether you need to be able to access your collection point online.

Step 2: Synch what can be synched. Sometimes you can get different sites to talk to each other and take away some of your move-the-info-from-here-to-there work. If your ultimate collection point can synch with many of your other collection points, you should take advantage of that! But if it doesn’t, it will still be worth the time to re-list the tasks in your single, main collection point.

Step 3: In the morning, check your myriad of schedules, task management systems, inboxes, calendars, etc. to make sure projects haven’t been reprioritized overnight. Make sure it’s all in your main collection point.

Step 4: Do the work.

Step 5: When you finish a project, cross it off your main collection point, cross it off the original collection point, and you’re done.

It’s easy. It will keep you sane. It will help you to manage your time more effectively. It seems like slightly more work up-front but the advantage is, you’ll be able to see everything that you’re juggling (rather than only seeing whatever happens to be in front of you at the time).

A couple more tips:

  • Keep track of what the source collection point was. That way, you can quickly cross it off when you’re done. For example, I might write a task and add the original collection point in square brackets at the end, like this: “Write coaching proposal & send to M.L. [Email]”
  • Make sure you check your other collection points throughout the day and update your main collection point as necessary. However, the strength of this system is in giving you some control over your dependency on that multitude of collection points, so checking a few times a day should be enough.

I’ve found that the longer I’m in business, and the faster that technology advances, and the more clients I have, the more collection points I end up with. You might find that, too. Fight the high-stress, highly-inefficient system of juggling unseen tasks and keep it altogether.

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