When you’re in the thick of it, sometimes it can be hard to see the big picture. How do you stay on top of daily tasks while also staying on track to meet your long-term goals? John Tippett, vice president of networking at Datto, Inc., shares his strategy for pursuing clear goals and regularly checking your progress against them.
While some may be under the impression that working on tasks and requests as they come in is the best approach to staying ahead at work, Tippett said a lack of planning and prioritizing is a surefire way to lose control of your day, your week and, ultimately, your life.
“I am a firm believer in prioritizing your activities and planning time to get them done. I generally follow the ‘Getting Things Done’ method by David Allen. He has a great framework for processing and managing tasks,” Tippett said. He also favors the work of Stephen Covey – specifically the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” – saying it provides a great framework for work and life. To that end, Tippett tracks all his tasks in a task list, with priorities and deadlines. He said his calendar includes “admin time” that allows him to come up for air, take a look at incoming emails and messages, and re-arrange his task list accordingly.
“When I need to get something done, it always goes on my calendar,” he said.
#2. Update Your Calendar
Each Friday, Tippett reviews the following week’s schedule to make sure everything is lined up. He uses this time to move or add tasks as needed so his week flows as smoothly as possible.
“Each morning and evening I review my calendar so I have good idea of what I need to accomplish that day,” Tippett said. “Obviously, things have to shift occasionally, but I follow my calendar pretty religiously.”
#3. Take a Lunch
Working within such a deliberate schedule might sound taxing to some, but Tippett makes sure he schedules in time to take lunch – saying he can work through many things, but doesn’t do well without food!
“I definitely make time for lunch, and enjoy getting away from the office for a few minutes. I often use lunch with my staff and peers as time to take a break, but we usually don’t get too far from work topics. We may collaborate about upcoming projects, or I take that time to look for areas where they may be stuck and in need of some guidance or support.” While lunch is an important time slot during the work day, Tippett emphasizes the need to make time for what is important to you as well.
“If you don’t plan downtime and family time, it will never happen,” he said.
#4. Leverage Tools
Maintaining a strategic and organized schedule is getting easier these days. Tippett uses a variety of tools and resources to manage his day.
“I manage my inbox via Mac Mail and use Mac Calendar. I also religiously use ‘to-do’ apps. I’m currently using 2Do and am pretty happy with it. I love that it has a ‘nag’ feature that will literally bug you repeatedly about a particular task until you respond,” he said. He also recommends SaneBox to manage email. “It’s great at getting ‘unimportant’ email out of my inbox so I can review it later in the day.”
#5. Start Fresh Each Morning
Beginning each morning with a clean slate and a thought-out to-do list ensures Tippett is making progress toward his goals.
“I generally close out my day the same way I begin it – reviewing my calendar, tasks and email. My goals are to make sure I didn’t leave anything incomplete that can’t wait, that I’ve documented everything I need to do tomorrow and that I followed up with everyone from the day. I also manage toward an empty inbox, so flushing out open items part of my daily routine,” he said.
“It’s easy to get distracted by the mountain of tasks that everyone faces,” Tippett said. “But, the key to success is always pursuing clear goals and constantly checking your progress against them.”Join CompTIA AITP today to connect with and learn from technology professionals, from students to executives.