How To Triple Your Weekly Productivity With One Master List
10 Steps to Creating and Implementing the Master List Method
My mind seems to go a million miles an hour and rarely shuts down. There is a lot of good in this, don’t get me wrong.
But there is also a lot of bad that comes as a result and it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
I have thoughts, ideas, and to-dos that I need to get out of my head and on to something in order to execute on or simply not lose them. Minor detail, right?!
I’m Bryan and I’m a productivity junkie. No secrets here. Since time is my most valued resource, I do everything I can to maximize this gift which once lost, can never be returned.
So this sent me on a quest to solve this elusive challenge to track the details of life that were critical to my success.
Do you struggle in this area? Have you ever had an idea or written something down and simply cannot find it? Insert frustration story here.
I stumbled upon a book at Barnes-N-Noble while on business (love losing an hour looking for new books) called Organizing for Success by Kenneth Ziegler: Get Two More Hours Out of Each Work Day! (great sub-title – I want that!)
This book has a ton of great content which I’ll write about in future posts, but one concept was worth the price of the book and would be the answer to my consistent daily struggle with details.
The concept is called A Master List.
Huh? Please define.
A Master List is one central location where you will keep all the possible activities, notes, action items and so on from one week.
It’s a combination of a daily list (for that day only) and a traditional to do list (scratch sheet with ongoing things to accomplish).
The ultimate purpose is to get everything “out of your head” and into one central location.
Let’s start with getting a “visual of the suspect”:
Here’s How to Create and Use a Master List:
1. Create a Master List of Your Own – you can get the rights to the list by purchasing the Organizing for Success book which gives the web address for the original template (highly suggested) or create your own based off of the above image to get started immediately
2. The Master List is Only Re-written Once a Week – this is a better glimpse of your productivity for any given week and you can look back at the entire week holistically (like a complete game, not just a quarter)
3. Make sure the first word of each note you write tells you what the activity is – email Ben, call Rod, research prospect, etc.
4. List the Batch Type – Email = E / Phone call = C / Web Activity = W
5. List the Due Date – W24 (W = Wednesday / # = actual date)
6. List when the task is completed in the DONE category
7. Use the notes section to add color to any of the required tasks – This sheet is not designed to be pretty but effective.
8. Don’t prioritize the Master List – this is a working document that is more time-based than priority-based. You will choose Your Most Important Task and Your Top Three tasks for the day from the Master List.
9. Batch Similar Tasks Together – let’s say you have 30 minutes and you choose to take all of your E tasks (emails) to knock out as many emails as you can in 30 minutes. You simply look for all those similar activities and do them at one time. They’re easy to find because they’re on the list.
10. Create a WORK Master List and PERSONAL Master List – the author and I disagree here. Let me tell you why. I tried it but found myself SO tempted to see a personal item when at work and justifying “it will just take a minute” and lose myself in the personal action items. I created two identical lists one marked WORK in the top left corner and one marked PERSONAL on a separate sheet. I color-coded that box so I can know instantly which list is what at a quick glance.
Bonus Suggestions: (at no additional charge)
- At the end of the week, staple all of the sheets from the week together, put it in a file labeled for that week and use it as a reference in the future. I’ve found I need to go back to find details rather often and organizing by the week makes it SO much easier to find.
- Skip lines between each entry to allow room for notes and added details.
- If you send an email or voice mail but haven’t received a response, put a check mark in DONE but it’s not compete until you get a response in which you can put a circle around the check mark to signify the task is officially complete. This will help you know what needs follow-up.
- I put my two Master Lists on a clear clipboard on the corner of my desk and refer to them ALL of the time. Most of all, it allows me to get “stuff out of my head” and in one centralized location to know the following:
WHAT exactly I did with my time
WHEN I did it and
WHERE I left off!
- This also makes is simple to close your day which I call CASH OUT. You simply look at your Master List and can easily plan ahead to move action items to tomorrow’s must do
- Lastly, accept the reality you’re not going to complete EVERYTHING on the Master List. This was freeing to me because I want to accomplish any and everything I write down. It’s a GAME PLAN only in a centralized location.
You may have a working system for your right now. Kudos. You may be in need of some overdue assistance. You may be curious and always looking to improve your productivity. Or you may desperately need a solution and right now!
This works for me and my wiring. I tried it, tweaked it, and now couldn’t live without it.
I challenge you to purchase the book, download the worksheet, make it your own, and give it a solid attempt for a minimum of two weeks. Implement something as a result of this post.
How could you benefit from implementing the Master List Method?