I like to talk about time manage- ment because it's a phrase that I grew up with in my corporate career. But let's be straight:
Just as 2+ 1 does not equal 4,
Managing Time does not equal Productivity.
I'm not saying you won't get a lot of things done by understanding all the things you want to do, all the things you're getting paid to do, then breaking down those projects into actionable tasks. you could be super busy doing all those tasks and more having lots of 'checks' in your planner.
By working and even finishing tasks that don't get you closer to reaching your goals - work or personal, you'll find yourself perhaps more stressed and feeling like you don't have enough time in the day because what you are working on isn't in harmony with what you ultimately want to do. Perhaps what you choose to do everyday (even following your to-do list) isn't getting you any closer to the end of your project.
If you're not working on the right stuff (- on what's important to you -) deep down you know it. Deep down you know what you should be working on. This knowledge you carry deep down inside of you is screaming for attention and this is causing you stress.
Important tasks support both your values and your goals. These goals could be work related and assigned. These goals could be personal ventures. The same rules apply.
Understand the big picture of what you're trying to achieve. From this you can define the path to get there: what needs to happen, who you will work with, how to do it, and what you don't know.
Understand what it is you really want to achieve. We have a lot of ideas in business and it is all our job to ensure that what we do supports the corporate vision. Has your project deviated? Perhaps it's time to stop - or redine the corporate direction. Is the corporation you?
Focus on showing up for yourself. If you've gone to the trouble of understanding how your direction supports the project that supports the vision of the company and you know how to get there, what are you doing continuing research for that old project this morning - or worse, checking your email and twitter accounts 25 times a day? (go ahead, track how many times per day you look - it may surprise you)
The constant review of your plan and important tasks you've assigned yourself each day will remind you how you can be best productive. You will work on your important stuff.
You can always procrastinate tomorrow.
Rarely do I start a project where I know everything about what I need to do and the technology required.
What do you do when you don't know?
Building momentum for yourself is equally important as building and maintaining momentum for a team. Momentum inspires, energizes, and creates believers. Sometimes it's necessary to make a decision when all the information isn't present. To quote an old manager, you "reserve the right to get smarter." There will always be things you don't know. Building time into your schedule and planning to learn may help remove your personal "this road ends" signs.
Show up for yourself. Cherish your day. Do More.
Extra: I like the way Dr. Manlowe talks about TIME in her recent article. She also echoes the assignment by the book, The Artist's Way by recommending writing every morning to both clear your head and align your vision with your day's agenda. I do this as both a writer and an engineer. It works.
Image credit, Jeff Morrison. Symbol # indicating 'does not equal' used as blogspot.com does not recognize input of actual symbol 9April2009