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When we do studies of how people spend their time, we find, on average… a backlog of 32.4 hours of tasks. That means, on any given day, people feel like they’re drowning in work, like they’re never done, like they can’t ever relax. There’s too much to do. But finding a way to triage an overflowing to-do list, whether it’s backed up by a day or three months, is the most liberating action you can take for your workflow productivity and, not to mention, your sanity.
The W.A.D.E. formula is a practical plan for capturing, calculating and calendaring your to-do’s, and feeling the unbeatable sense of accomplishment that comes with getting the right things done, and checking things off your list.
Try applying my W.A.D.E. formula to properly manage your to-do list.
Record 100% of your to-dos, calls, ideas and assignments as they come in. Having a single, reliable, intelligent to-do system puts you in command of your day by providing a complete picture of everything you need to do. Prioritization is so much easier when you have full context. And you are more confident staying focused on the moment, when everything is present and accounted for. My partners at Boundless Notebooks provide customizable productivity systems to suit your needs are as a person focused on efficiency. Check out my pre-assembled notebooks and accessories that best fit your work style.
Next to each item, write a time estimate of how long each task will take. Knowing how long things take is the #1 gateway skill to good time management. It takes the emotion out of our choices, and focuses on the math, helping you determine if tasks are worth the time invested, and if there is enough room in your day for all that needs to be done. You will likely discover that you have more tasks to do, than time to do it, which means you will need to streamline, and select what is most important… the next step. Try my Boundless Notebook Single-Column or Dual-Column To Do List paper that features a column for estimating a task’s completion time to help prioritize and manage your time.
When you have more to do than time to do it, you can streamline your task list with the 4 D’s, cutting out anything that is not the highest and best use of your time. You can:
Delete (completely cut things that are not worth the time invested),
Delay (schedule some items for a more appropriate time),
Diminish (design a shortcut that gets a task done quicker),
Delegate (assign a task to someone else to do).
A to-do not connected to a “when” rarely gets done. End every day by reviewing your to-do list and choosing the ones you will do for the next day or two. Then transfer them to your calendar to protect the time for your priorities, and you start your next day ready to hit the ground running.
For over 25 years, New York Times bestselling author and organizational consultant Julie Morgenstern has transformed the way individuals and companies function around the globe, including American Express, Microsoft, FedEx, and the NYC Mayor’s Office.
Her cutting edge advice has been featured on programs from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Good Morning America and NPR, and she is regularly featured in a variety of print magazines and publications, including Forbes, Harvard Business review, and The Wall Street Journal.
In today’s fast-paced culture, professional success often seems synonymous with long days, never-ending to-do lists, and sleepless nights. But it doesn’t have to be that way.