The “To Do List”

The “To Do List”

Edisi 270, 21 Mei 2019

This was in the 90st when my boss at a Multi National Company briefed her management team on a usual Monday morning meeting to always prepare “a to do list” for the current week’s activities. You may look down on this company, though an MNC we still worked by using an Agenda book. Tablets or any IT gadget were not available yet.

The ‘to do list” is a Time Management tool which I did experience in a job training several years before working for another company in the late1970 which produces products out of a  factory in East Java. As at that time I was a field manager, I felt that the “to do list” was very helpful in keeping control of my field visit to various outlets. I managed controlling the targeted visits effectively.

When I worked for a servicing company where most of the day I stay in the office, I start wondering would a “to do list” be necessary? I was even more questioning, why should a secretary who for sure has to stay in the office needs also to prepare her “to do list”; as compared to my activities which still need to visit two or three prospective clients or servicing one existing client in a week would make sense.

At that time I did not bother how useful was the “to do list” for a Managing Director’s  Secretary was, more importantly is that my “to do list” is up-to-date, to be prepared  when in the middle of the week I was called in  to participate  in a management meeting. All the participants in that meeting will need to look and note down all the important suggestions or next steps to do in their agenda books. One will then become aware how important to follow the “to do list”.

In the years of 1990 to 2000 Agenda books were very much in need for managers and supervisors. Book stores are offering various sizes in attractive cover and colors on their shelves. Agenda books with advertisement of a company became popular as a give-away approaching the new year, to promote the company to their stakeholders (this term was not popular yet, simply clients & business relations friends, were the expressions used). Various attractive Agenda books were also printed in each days’ pages with motivational quotes of well-known people.

Let us go back to the “to do list” background “philosophy” that I just found in browsing the “Master Your Workday Now” (2010) book by Michael Linenberger; which I actually came across out of the reference list  of Gde Suardhika’s book “The Missing 40 Percent – Filling the Gap between Ordinary and Superior Individual & Organizational Productivity” (2019). Linenberger’s most important message is that the process of productivity consists of the “3 Cs”: Control, Create and Connect. Controlling our daily activities, creating on how things are done meeting its objectives, and connecting is actually formatting our daily activities in line with our life purpose. 

Control, create and connect is obviously a tool on getting things done as we really plan (this of course if one has a purpose to make one’s life meaningful – that is my personal view). I did somehow have “this feeling” in my past work experiences when I was General Manager and later an Account Director of a reputable company. Now, I would strongly recommend young managers, despite of the advanced digital technology, still need to follow this working tool on getting things done.

It is certainly correct what Linenberger said in his book that one who is actively working for a good company will feel “overloaded”, and if one cannot overcome this problem at the first instance then it is a big problem to go to the next steps: create and connect. He then suggested to group the work activities into “Critical Now” those tasks to be settled immediately; “Opportunity Now” those assignments to be done within the week, followed by “Over the Horizon” those jobs to be managed beyond the current week, which we need to note it down but not to bother yet.

I came to observe, that Linenberg thinking in 2010 was somehow similar to which I was trained in the Time Management program in the 1970st, which was putting in a Matrix of the tasks to be completed whether it is Urgent or Not Urgent, than whether it is Important or Not Important and its four combinations to start tackling the Most Urgent and Most Important to do, and to leave the least Not Urgent and Not Important duties.  However, what is most interesting which Linenberger wrote in his book that the “Create” action should be related to the “Goals” as an approach close to the Neuro Linguistics Programming: Vision Goals, Now Goals, Activating Now Goals and Taking First Actions.

On page 118 -119, Gde Suardhika questioned in his “The Missing 40 Percent” book “Whose Urgency’s the Agenda is?” A really tickling question, and therefore I am translating (his book is in Bahasa Indonesia) and summarizing it here.

It is common that one actualization to be  recognized. This mentally setting urged if not well controlled could hamper one’s priority to do. As duties were not accomplished one will tend ignoring the priorities to do; goals are then not achieved.

On the other hand when a sub-ordinate is not meeting its targeted goal, but the sub-ordinate was able to follow the demands of his manager, would be rated as well accepted. The manager could give this sub-ordinate a positive performance rating.

In the Personal Productivity Management skills, the two aims are trained to fulfill each other; the organizational goals versus the individual interests. Which one comes first may result in a collision, then one may become the victim of offering one’s health also most probably one’s family relationship.

This would take a different stance, when a manager or a higher positioned director handling his/her sub-ordinate who knows well the skills of Personal Productivity Management, would help to make his sub-ordinate understanding the problem and would concentrate on the most important to do, not obscuring his/her staff member on the objectives, at the same time creating a favorable working atmosphere.

(Ludwig Suparmo – Lead Trainer Value Consult in Compliance Management and Crisis Management) 

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