Many people use a to-do list to help organize their day. While it is true that any to-do list is better than having none, there is a "best way" to use to-do lists to maximize your productivity.
Most people either put too little on their to-do list or they put too much. If you put too little then you are not really organizing yourself and the list will be of little help. If you put too much then that can have two potential problems; either you have so much that you haven't really provided any organizing structure or you have so much that just looking at it over whelms you.
The solution to this problem is to use the Six Key Activities System. This concept of working to a list of six key activities was first developed around one hundred years ago and has be refined since then into a highly efficient system.
The story goes that Charles Schwab, the president of the largest steel company in the world at that time, was approached by a man with the original six key activities system. He told Schwab to write day the six most important objectives for his day, then prioritize them, and then focus on achieving those six goals. Any that he did not achieve in the day he was to move to top priority on the next day's list of six.
This man suggested that Schwab try this system for 30 days and then pay him what he thought the advice had been worth. Schwab did this and at the end of the 30 days paid the man $25,000. At this time in history most workers were earning less than $1,000 per year so $25,000 was a fortune. If the president of one of the largest companies in the world thinks this simple system was so valuable to him then perhaps you should be using it too.
In the hundred years that has past since then we have learned a lot about how the human mind works and as a result have further refined this brilliant system. Here is how it is used today.
Always prepare your list at the end of the day before. Science has discovered that the subconscious mind spends approximately half of your sleeping time in digesting the day's events and organizing them into patterns that will determine how you operate in life. If you prepare your list at the end of the day then that list will become a part of the subconscious organizing and will therefore be easier to accomplish the next day.
Here's the way to do it.
Step 1: You start by reviewing the just completed day and ask yourself what you achieved and whether or not those achievements took you a step closer to your goal.
Step 2: Brainstorm everything that you have to do the next day and make sure that you include actions toward your major goals.
Step 3: Read your list and see how many of those things you can delegate to someone else.
Step 4: Select the six most important items and place them in order of priority on your Six Key Actions list.
Step 5: Start each day by reading over your Six Key Action list that you prepared the day before.
Step 6: Focus on achieving those six key items during the day. As you complete each task mark it off and jot down a brief result of your actions.
Step 7: Start the process again at the end of the day. If you have any items left on your list make sure that they are the top priority on your next day list.
If you make a habit of following this simple seven step process then you will discover why Charles Schwab happily paid ten times the average wage for this valuable productivity system.
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