Tag Archives: to do list

Cut through the chaos

IT managers have a very tough job. At times it can be almost overwhelming with all the issues you deal with on a daily basis.

  • Client priorities change, , , quite a bit don’t they?
  • Technology is changing faster than ever. We love this but it creates lots of pressure for us to manage.
  • Employees, , , well, something is going on with them all the time.

When all of these changes happen it creates clutter and chaos in an IT manager’s world, , , so much clutter that you can even get to a point where you don’t know what to focus on. I’ve even seen managers freeze up because they are so overwhelmed.

I’ve been there and can even experience the feeling of being overwhelmed today if I allow it in my life.

OK, so what do we do about it?

Well, what breaks through chaos is


At any given time each of us have a lot of things we need to accomplish. Let’s call it our “list of to do’s”. This list can be anything from a minor item like completing a travel expense report to a major task like developing next year’s budget.

I always have a long list of TO-DO’s, , , ALWAYS!!!  You are probably just like me in this regard. It’s normal to have 20 or more important things on your TO-DO List at any given point of time.

If you aren’t careful, this daunting list will put you into a sort of “stalemate” where you can’t quite figure out what you need to focus on. It’s awful when this happens.

It’s obvious we can’t get everything done immediately, but our need to address everything nags at us to do it all NOW. When this happens, we start analyzing and debating within ourselves about what to do. What can happen is that we don’t do anything and waste valuable time which adds to our frustration.

The worst thing you can do is DO NOTHING!

The solution is to organize your TO-DO’s and prioritize them so you can FOCUS. What I’ve done for 30 years is to create a WEEKLY TO-DO LIST that does a few things:

  1. Quantifies all my TO-DO’s (projects, miscellaneous, and personal TO-DO’s)
  2. Organizes my workload so I can see the entire list of things I need to accomplish
  3. Allows me to prioritize the list so I work on the most important items first
  4. Gives me a sense of accomplishment when I start ticking items off the list as they are completed

Weekly To-Do’s work best for me. Some prefer a monthly list and I know a few who work with Daily To-Do’s. Use whatever method works best for you.

My process works like this:
STEP-1 – Develop an Annual Goals and Objectives List. This includes the major things I want to accomplish during the year. I do this during the holidays and the first week of every New Year. It’s a tradition I look forward to each year.

STEP-2 – At the beginning of each month I list the TO-Do’s I need to accomplish this month. I refer to the Annual Goals List to be sure I’m focusing on things that help me achieve these goals.

STEP-3 – Every weekend I create a WEEKLY TO-DO LIST from my monthly objectives list. This is what I focus on during the week and I work hard to accomplish everything on the list. I identify the priorities of what is on the list so I work on the most important items early.

STEP-4 – Emergency items or important issues come up from “out of the blue”. These items are added to this week’s list.

STEP-5 – The following weekend I move any unfinished tasks to next week’s TO-DO List and add new items from the monthly list that need to prioritized.

I have used pencil and paper combined with an EXCEL spreadsheet most of my life. Recently I discovered a system that can assist in this process that is light years ahead of my manual system. It is so powerful that I’ve made a commitment to work with the company to do some things that will benefit IT managers. I’ll announce something major soon so watch for my posts.

My Weekly TO-DO List is very simple as you can see below. It doesn’t need to be complex. All you need is the Task and a column to put a priority on it. For my Annual and Monthly Lists, I use A, B, and C. For my Weekly List, I number them to give them a chronological priority.

Having a TO-DO List in front of you helps you stay on track and it will help you get more things done. Whenever you begin feeling overwhelmed, , , go back to your TO-DO List and knock out a few items. It will “pump you up”.

Preparing for my 46th IT Manager Institute

Next week I’ll deliver the 46th IT Manager Institute in Columbia, TN.  I’ll be posting new photos of the class next week.

It has been an extraordinary ride since starting the program in 2003 and the program has taken me to locations around the world I never thought I would see. Hard to believe at times.

I’m excited about this class because we have 4 managers traveling in from outside the US, , , Canada, Uganda, Ghana, and Saudi Arabia. Others are coming in from many parts of the US. It’s going to be a great mix of cultures and  insights.

An interesting statistic about the 46 Institute classes is that 35 of the 46 classes have had students attend from outside the US. About 40% of participants are from non-US countries and 19 of the classes have been delivered in non-US countries, , , I have made some great friends in all parts of the world and communicate with many of them from time to time.

Preparations are all but completed for next week’s class and I must say I have this part down to a science. I use a simple checklist that lists every item I need to complete in order to arrive at class fully prepared, , , even things like “get a haircut” (taken care of yesterday), , , or packing my passport when I go out of the country.

As they say in Australia, , , “No worries!”

This checklist eliminates any concern about showing up with something left undone or not having an item I need. When I check off the items on my list, I know everything is ready, , , makes it easy and removes all “last-minute” stress.

I remember the first couple of classes, , , there was a major push the weekend before class to finish everything. It didn’t take long to get tired of this and doing all the work ourselves so I’ve automated much of the preparation.

We eliminated much of the work effort to prepare for a class by setting up an order system for class materials and creating standard templates or tools to take care of the rest of the administrative effort. It takes 5 minutes to order the class materials, , , they arrived yesterday.

Make life easier when you have to do repetitive tasks like I do to prepare for another IT Manager Institute. Create a checklist and tick each item off as you complete them and see for yourself how much easier and less stressful preparing for an event is for you.

IT Manager Institute info at  https://itlever.com/it-manager-institute/

Class photos at  https://itlever.com/it-manager-institute-photos/

IT Manager Institute #13 – October 2005 – Nashville, TN

We have four new Institute programs being discussed so stay tuned for announcements as they are confirmed.