Jan 5, 2013
If you’ve gotten behind in your 1MTD or MYN system it’s not hard to dig out and start using the systems again—you can usually do that in minutes. Here are some simple steps to take. The first steps work for both systems, and the last one is focused on MYN.
Make sure you know the definitions of each urgency zone:
- Critical Now section (high priority) is for items that absolutely must be done today. Move all other items out of there.
- Opportunity Now section (medium or normal priority) is for items you might do today if you had the opportunity, but they are not due today. Some are not due for up to 10 days.
- Over-the-Horizon section is for items that can wait longer than 10 days; some much longer, perhaps months.
Adhere to Size Limits of Each Section
The main reason people give up on any task system is the list gets too big. So right now reduce your lists to below the system limits. That means:
- Reduce the Critical Now list down to 5 items or fewer (zero is okay).
- Reduce your Opportunity Now list down to 20 items or fewer.
How? First, delete old dead items. Next, move all excess tasks to the Over-the-Horizon section, which has no limit in these systems. Be aggressive in doing this. Face it, if an item has been sitting incomplete in the top or middle part of your list for 3 weeks or more without causing harm, you can safely move it to the Over-the-Horizon section—so just move it, now!
Now you have a reasonably sized list in the Critical Now and Opportunity Now zones, so start working items there. Set a few hours aside each day to actually do your tasks.
Use the Proper Review Cycles
Tasks get out of control if you don’t keep up with them. Priorities shift often, and deadlines sneak up on you. Here is a reminder of how often you should review each section to keep ahead of them:
- Review your Critical Now section many times per day, perhaps even once an hour.
- Review the Opportunity Now section at least once a day.
- Review the Over-the-Horizon section once a week.
As you do theses reviews, act on tasks if you can and adjust priorities of those you can’t as their importance changes.
MYN Strategies To Clean Up Your List: Use the Start Date
The above tips work with both 1MTD and MYN. The MYN system gains additional power by using the start date field, so MYN users, don’t forget to use start dates as you clean up your list. In the Critical Now and Opportunity Now sections you can occasionally just set the start date to the future, and that will hide items and reduce your list. But do that sparingly—only for items with specific future action dates; otherwise those sections will just overload again in the days ahead.
Better is to use the Defer-to-Review process—it’s a fantastic way for MYN users to clean up your entire list and not lose track of your long list of to-dos. You do that by using future start date assignments in the Over-the-Horizon section. Study that more here.
If after trying these techniques you find you still tend to lose control, write a comment here saying why; maybe we can find a solution for you.
Image courtesy of stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net