As someone who has worked in multiple office environments, primarily in the entertainment industry, I became well versed on time management out of necessity. One of my office jobs was assisting prolific film producer, Scott Rudin, when he was on the Paramount lot. Finding myself suddenly needing to get three hours of work done in thirty minutes, I soon devised a simple time management tool to help me meet my deadlines and accomplish important tasks.
Daily work checklist
Start with a clean slate. In this case, you’ll be using a blank sheet of lined paper. I like to use a legal pad so it can last more than a month and so I can look back on it for reference. However, paper and a pen is all you need so use what you are most comfortable with. A spiral notebook works well also. The very act of manually crossing off items on a tangible list will help create a strong physical association with accomplishing tasks.
Create a checklist grid
Using lined paper and a pen, create a Daily Work Checklist grid by numbering lines, skipping a line in between each for space. In the left margin of the paper, draw open square boxes beside each number so you can use them as checkbox, marking off each item you complete with a large X.
Put the things you need to get done at the top of the list, prioritizing the most important to the least important. This way, you will start your day with the most important things to do rather than allocating time to things that can wait or are of low importance.
Tailor the list to fit your needs
Once you create this basic list, tailor it to fit your specific needs. I like to color code tasks that have time sensitive deadlines. That way, I continually look at it to ensure I get it done. Another thing I do is put an asterisk beside anything I’m waiting to hear back about. That way I can stay on top of items even though I’ve done what I could up to that point.
Keep the list directly in front of you
Find a place to keep the list directly in front of you. It’s your blueprint for the day. The one that prioritizes your workload and clearly states what you need to do. It also shows how productive you’ve been since you’re checking things off as you complete them.
Create the checklist at the end of the workday
It is best to create the checklist at the end of the workday, right before leaving the office, so that you can use it the following day and be ready to work as soon as you arrive. It’s also good to do it then because you can carry over what you didn’t finish from the low priority to do items.