Chances are you’ve got work coming at you from all directions.  Emails hitting your inbox, invites appearing in your Calendar with little warning, actions from meetings, shared documents, various other internal and external media, plus your own To Do List.  Oh, and you may even get the odd letter through the post!

With lots of inputs and both your Calendar and Outlook (or equivalent) partially managing your time and your task lists, it is increasingly complicated just to stay on top of what’s going on, let alone to drive forward the changes you’d like to make.

Unfortunately there are no simple solutions to this, but there are a few things you can do to take control back a little.

Firstly, organise your goals in to a three-tiered hierarchy; Purpose, Goals and Actions.


For a fuller explanation of the importance of Three Tiered Goals, please click on this link


Giving yourself a single place to look when you want to plan and organise is essential. Giving yourself a clear “map” between actions and purpose means you are less likely to do the unnecessary and will have more energy to do the necessary.

Secondly, start the working day the same way each day.  Read you Purpose and look at your Tasks for the day, grouped by Goal. Each Task should have a time to complete estimate next to it, so opening up your Calendar and looking at meeting and travel time, you should be able to compare time available to time needed for the tasks on your To Do list.

You should cut down today’s task list to just what you think you can realistically get done.  If you run out of things to do, its far nicer to borrow a task from tomorrow’s list than it is to constantly roll thing on to the next day.

An additional tip here is to give yourself two half hour slots in the day where you look at email.  If you need more than this then build more in, but don’t just ignore this time-hoover; it will suck the life out of your day.


Click here for tips on how to get email under control


Note that your start-the-day routine requires you to specifically not open up email. Email is full of other people’s agenda’s and will distract you from planning the day you want.  Go to work and do at least one task or attend one meeting before you allow yourself the guilty pleasure of going in to email!

Finally, finish the day.  I know this sounds a bit odd, but giving yourself a routine that closes down the working day; a quick review of the To Do list, revisiting you Purpose, journaling your thoughts on your progress, for example.  You’ll know what works best for you.  Again, importantly, do not include looking at your email as part of this process. And, obviously, once you’ve done your close-the-day process, don’t do any more work, unless there’s a crisis!

Giving your brain a clear signal that work is now over so that it can relax or focus on other commitments will give you a decent chance of being clear-headed for the working day tomorrow.


Click here to consider how to switch off more effectively with the Zeigarnik Effect