Simplifying The Task List

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Even though I write this blog and make it a point to find the best ways to be productive, occasionally I get buried.

Right now I am buried under a mountain of projects and tasks. I simply look at my task list and want to run away and join the circus.

There is a method to getting back out from under the mountain. All it takes is a bit of time and a very large shovel.

So here is the shovel for you to use as well, should you need it.

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Streamlining Requests

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We’re talking about streamlining inputs. I chose requests next because this is an input you might not be aware of, but still impacts your productivity.

Requests are those things that get flung at you in passing. A coworker passes you in the hall and says, “Hey, can you send me the template of the Jones file? I want to reuse it.” Or a child yells from the far corner of the house, “Hey, we’re out of toilet paper.” Or the dreaded “I need you to head up the fundraising dinner this spring.”

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Plan A Schedule: Use Buffers

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My husband, who used to be an electrician in the Navy, was called on to do work on the ship. Often it was said, “It will only take five minutes.” But as my husband is fond of saying, “There is no such thing as a five minute electrical job.”

Even replacing a lightbulb on a ship usually became a much bigger project. He learned this, and how to buffer his tasks.

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Streamlining Inputs: Paper

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Paper breeds more paper. It is only by regular processing that we can hope to keep the paper monster from breeding all over our homes. But faced with piles of paper, it is very tempting just to shove the piles in a hidden space and hope they go away. They never do (trust me on this, I have tried).

Streamlining the way we handle paper can make it much smoother and faster to deal with. This will in turn lead to fewer backlogs, which will lead to less misplaced information.

Here are my tips for streamlining paper input:

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When Traditions Don’t Work

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We just finished up the holiday season in many countries. (Thank goodness). Holidays come jam-packed with activities, many of which have a basis in tradition, whether it is cultural, religious or family traditions.

Sometimes tradition can lend depth and meaning to a special time.

Other times it is just an unnecessary and unwelcome complication.

Sometimes I think “tradition” is just another way of saying “shared habit”.

And like habits, sometimes our traditions don’t serve us very well.

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