Get a Routine

Create a ‘Daily Routine’ to start each day off right

The second tip takes the ‘top goals’ one step further. Besides the issues that change from day-to-day, there are tasks that you need to perform at the beginning of every day.  Capturing these tasks serves at least two purposes.

For one thing, it has you start your day off proactively rather than reactively.  As an example, your first routine task may be to review your calendar – take a look at any meetings you have for the day.  This way, you will not be surprised when you get a reminder in the middle of lunch for a meeting your forgot about that starts in fifteen minutes.

A routine also allows you do get all of those little tasks of the day out of the way right from the start.  For instance, you may put your phone on silent at the beginning of the workday to keep from disturbing others.  Or, maybe you put your phone on silent when home to keep from waking the whole house up when it rings at two in the morning.  Either way, you can add ‘check phone volume’ as a task you do first thing every morning.

To create your Daily Routine, perform the following:

  1. With MS To Do open, in the left-side pane, click on +New List.
  2. Rename the list to Daily Routine, and optionally add an icon.
  3. Use the new item list at the bottom to add the tasks you want to perform every day.
  4. Click on each item to open the edit pane on the right.
  5. Set a Repeat frequency.  For ‘daily’ items, you can choose either ‘Daily’ or ‘Weekdays’.

To use the list, perform the following each morning:

  1. Select all items.
  2. Right-click and choose Add to My Day.
  3. Check each item off as you work through your daily routine.

As you use this tip regularly, you will likely start finding a lot of items that will help get your day off to a strong start.  When that happens, simply add it to your daily routine.  Personally, I have noticed a big difference in my satisfaction with the day when I was able to start off with my routine.  Those days that I come in fighting fires right off the bat feel like they go on forever all the while making me feel like I am neglecting the ‘important but not urgent’ items.

Capture the important stuff right from the start

Use MS To Do “My Day” to capture top goals for every day.

Productivity can start before you arrive at your work space. Many people begin contemplating their day within a few minutes of the alarm going off in the morning. We often have moments of clarity before we get engulfed in the ‘fog of war.’ It is not uncommon for me to see clearly what it is I want to accomplish today before I get my first cup of coffee, only to lose that vision during the morning commute.

The first tip is to use Microsoft ‘My Day’ to capture your top goal at the start of every day.  This is basically what Stephen Covey refers to as a ‘first generation’ time management tool.  All we are doing at this stage is writing down one to three things you are going to accomplish by the end of the day, using the Microsoft To Do application to capture those actions.  Although these tasks are probably ‘tactical’ (or else you could not finish them by the end of the day), they should be strategic in nature – maybe a small step towards a much larger, long-term goal you want to accomplish.

By using To Do, your list is available to you at your desk, your tablet and even your phone. So, while making your morning cup of coffee, you can use your phone to easily capture those things you are definitely going to do once you get to your office.  Because once you actually arrive at your desk, there is no telling what fires are going to distract you from being truly effective today.