Much To-Do About Nothing?

Published on 20 July 2010 by Kelly Riggs in Job Search


unemployed stuff to do list 210x300 Much To Do About Nothing?A person who knows how to get things done is in possession of a highly marketable skill. The ability to complete complex tasks or projects is a skill that most every employer can, and will, use. The devil, as they say, is in the details. Because the real skill is not just the ability to “get things done,” but the ability to get things done right.

As in, completely. All the “I’s” dotted; all the “T’s” crossed. Soup to nuts – done. Correctly. According to specifications.

If “gitt’n ‘er done” is not among your strong suits, don’t despair – help is a simple “To-Do” list away. That’s right, the proverbial task list. Amazing how those little buggers work. Well, if you do them right (not like the one shown that I found here).

Legendary sales trainer Zig Ziglar tells a story about what he calls the “Day Before Vacation” attitude. He illustrates how much people can actually get done the day before they leave for vacation. Why? Because they have tons of stuff to accomplish and only a single day to get it all finished. The solution? Plan and Prioritize. Put it on a list. Lay out the most efficient way to get it all done.

First, the Post Office. Then, the bank. Drop the dogs at the kennel. Pick up the dry cleaning. You get the idea. The result is that someone who is mostly average at getting things done turns into Larry the Cable Guy on steroids. Git ‘r Done!!

To-Do lists can be fantastic tools. They can also create the illusion that you are actually doing something when you’re not (see picture above). I’ve know people who spend most of their time making lists, rearranging lists, collating lists – essentially, managing the lists. That, of course, is not so good. However, creating a prioritized To-Do list that outlines the critical details that must be addressed and completed can dramatically impact your daily performance.

Using a task list while you look for a job is a great place to practice (if you fail, you only have to explain it to your significant other). Start the week with a Priority List – things I must accomplish this week regardless of the obstacles I may encounter. Think through the details and include them on the list so you don’t overlook anything important. Then, each day, review your Priority List and add any additional items that you need to do that day. Just as you would on the day before your vacation, put them into a logical sequence that will make them easy to accomplish. Anything you don’t complete today goes on tomorrow’s list. Finally, keep all of your notes in a small notebook and you will not only keep a record of everything, but you’ll ensure that nothing slips through the cracks that you should have completed.

In your job search, be specific with your task list. Don’t put something general like “Look for job” on your list. Write down the details of the things you must do. 1) Complete resume revisions. 2) Make the following phone calls (list the people and their numbers – in order of priority). 3) See these companies (list by name and prioritize by geography to make them easy to get to). 4) Send follow-up notes to these people (list specifically).

Ultimately, you can get very good at using a To-Do List, and the side benefit is that it can become a huge asset for you in the workplace.

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