Now that you know how to use a Master List, it’s time to use that list to get more accomplished daily, weekly, and monthly. We are going to examine a “typical” day and how to develop strategies to get more accomplished in less time so you can have better work/life balance. The place to start is with how to apply the Veggie Principle to get off to a faster start each day and get more accomplished in the first half of your workday.
The Veggie Principle and how to apply it: A “veggie” is a task, activity, or project that’s good for you and your career or personal life, but that you have a hard time “eating,” or doing first. Without the benefit of training such as this, people will typically start working on a veggie late in the day or evening when they are less effective.
The true secret to getting what matters most accomplished each day is to apply the “veggie principle,” that is, tackle first in the day those action items that directly impact your highest goals and priorities.
Your “veggies” will take less time in the morning because you have more energy in the morning. It’s your peak energy cycle, you’ll have more focus, and you’ll have more confidence/feel great by getting them out of the way first thing. This will also dramatically cut down on procrastination.
Making an effective Daily List: Use your Master List, a day planner, or an electronic calendar to make a Daily List. Here’s how to make and use your Daily List:
- At the end of the day, select two to six tasks from your Master List and put them onto your calendar for tomorrow. Leave room for the next morning.
- The next morning add another two or three “veggie” e-mails and/or voice mails to your day. Altogether, your day is full. (A “veggie” e-mail or voice mail has a specific deadline to be done right away, and it explains why it’s important.)
Then, identify the two biggest “veggies” on your list and commit to making sure they get accomplished today. Typically, the top two will give you 80 percent of the value of all of the tasks listed. Build your day around these two tasks and try to “sprinkle” the “fires” around them so you will accomplish them.
Try to start the morning with one of them and complete the other before lunch. If you put them off until the afternoon, they might not get done at all and probably will be put off until tomorrow.
Take breaks between tasks: If you take a few moments to refresh yourself and shift gears after each task, you can work more productively. In addition, be sure to take lunch so you can recharge and make better use of your afternoon cycle.
Use Friday afternoon to organize next week more effectively: Friday afternoon is the lowest productivity time of the week, perfect for organizing. Every Friday afternoon you should:
- Make a new Master List by transferring the tasks and activities you weren’t able to complete that week to your new list. Now add anything else that comes to mind.
- Delete and file e-mails and papers.
- Create mental separation between work and home.
“There is no correlation between how long you sit at your desk and what you accomplish.”