When I was first starting out in music, I made stupid mistakes constantly. I missed one of my first shows because I didn't keep a calendar (it was all in my head), I didn't call back clients when I was supposed to (I thought I would remember to do it later), and I procrastinated constantly on getting stuff done that I didn't want to do.
It took a lot of hard lessons (and more than one time of being chewed out) to figure out that I needed a system to keep me from missing opportunities.
Fortunately, making a list of all the things you want to accomplish can cost nothing, is easy to manage once you get the hang of it, and absolutely essential if you want to get things done. Here's what 5 years of tweaking my task management system has produced:
Step 1: Create Groups
Take several sheets of paper or fire up your software (I use the free built-in Reminders app on my my Mac, iPad, and iPhone) and create groups of similar todo items. Groups are specific areas that you want to improve in your life- it can be anything. For instance, I have a call list, music career, piano lessons, work, personal, church, and later groups set up in my Reminders program.
Step 2: Write All Your Tasks Down
Catalogue every single quantifiable task you have to do for the next month. Don't leave anything out. Group them accordingly.
Step 3: Schedule Blocks of Time
Take out your calendar (again, I use the free Calendar app on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone) and find a space each day to schedule blocks of time to work on your todos. If possible, try to schedule a time slot every day.
Step 4: Schedule Your Tasks
This is the step that many people miss, but I find the most helpful. If you're using a software program, assign each of your tasks to a specific day that you'd like to complete them. I set up an alarm for each task on the day that I need to complete it, set for midnight. If I don't finish it that day, it shows up as red in my todo list the following day. Make sure to schedule a proportional amount of tasks to the amount of time you have scheduled each day in your calendar.
If you think this sounds like a lot of time to commit, I usually can do all of this in about 30 minutes while watching a football game on Sunday. If I really focused, I could probably manage to get it done in 10 minutes. That's less time than it takes to play one team match of Halo 4.
Creativity is free to flourish when you don't have to think about getting hundreds of little niggling business stuff out of the way.
What tricks do you do to get stuff done? Leave a comment below.