The world of work is chang­ing, ac­cord­ing to Alexandra Cavoula­cos and Kathryn Min­shew, founders of on­line ca­reers hub The Muse and au­thors of The New Rules Of Work. Fol­low their ad­vice to fast-track your ca­reer progress and find more time to do the things

Men's Fitness - - Fast Track | New Rules Of Work -

Win­ning the war against time isn’t about try­ing hun­dreds of on­line tools claim­ing to help pro­fes­sion­als be more pro­duc­tive. Yes, those tools can help, but fun­da­men­tally, it’s about re­think­ing how you use time. And this starts each and ev­ery day with how you or­gan­ise your tasks.

Em­ploy­ment net­work LinkedIn com­piled a sur­vey that re­vealed just how much our pro­fes­sional to-do lists are in need of a makeover. It turns out we’re great at list­ing the things we need to do, but not so good at ac­tu­ally do­ing them. In fact, al­most 90% of pro­fes­sion­als ad­mit they’re un­able to ac­com­plish all the tasks on their to-do list by the end of an av­er­age work­day. So if you’re sick of tack­ling the same stale to-do lists ev­ery day – and com­ing up short – here are four key strate­gies to change all that.


Let’s be hon­est: if you wanted to get a com­plete view of all the tasks you had to get done for work right now, chances are you couldn’t find it all on a sin­gle list. In­stead, you prob­a­bly have a few Post-its here, a saved draft in your email there, notes jot­ted in stick­ies on your com­puter, and maybe a check­list app or two on your phone, right? But if the goal is to ac­tu­ally get ev­ery­thing done, hav­ing a sin­gle place for your work-re­lated tasks is a must. So pick your method of choice, and start con­sol­i­dat­ing.

The list can be a hand­writ­ten one in­side your trusty plan­ner, a doc­u­ment you keep on your desk­top, an app on your phone, or what­ever else – this isn’t about the medium, it’s about the thought process. Just make sure that what­ever method you use, you can add to your list from any­where. This means that if you use a desk­top app, you’ll want to set up a sys­tem to cap­ture to-dos that crop up while you’re away from your com­puter, such as as­sign­ments you get while in a meet­ing, or the phone call you re­mem­ber dur­ing your com­mute home that you need to make to­mor­row.

Our pref­er­ence is to email these re­minders to our­selves, then delete the email once we’ve trans­ferred them to the mas­ter list. But sim­ply writ­ing them down on sticky notes and tran­scrib­ing them to the file works too.


One way we have trans­formed not only our own pro­duc­tiv­ity but also that of our en­tire team at is by fol­low­ing the 1-3-5 Rule, which Alex de­vel­oped. Here’s the gist: on any given day, as­sume that you can only ac­com­plish one big thing, three medium things, and five small things, and nar­row down your to-do list to those nine items.

Sound scary? Well, it is, at first. But like it or not, you have only so many hours in the day, and you’re go­ing to get only a finite num­ber of things done. Forc­ing your­self to pri­ori­tise by cre­at­ing 1-3-5 lists means the things you ac­com­plish will be the things you choose to do, rather than those that hap­pen to get done.

Of course, the num­ber of tasks them­selves can be flex­i­ble. If you spend much of your day in meet­ings, for ex­am­ple, you might need to re­duce the num­ber of tasks. Or if your po­si­tion is one where each day brings lots of un­ex­pected to-dos and as­sign­ments, you might try leav­ing one medium and two small tasks blank in prepa­ra­tion for the last-minute re­quests from your boss.

This doesn’t mean you need to limit your mas­ter to-do list to just nine things. Rather, you should keep two kinds of lists: one large “kitchen sink” com­pre­hen­sive list of ev­ery­thing you have to do at some point (all in one place), and an­other that is shorter and gives you your march­ing or­ders for what needs to get done to­day. We rec­om­mend that be­fore leav­ing work in the even­ing, you take a few min­utes to de­fine your 1-3-5 for the next day, so you’re ready to hit the ground run­ning in the morn­ing.

Plan­ning ahead like this also means you’ll be able to have more in­formed con­ver­sa­tions with your man­ager when he or she drops some­thing new on you that needs to be done right away, as well as the tools to re-pri­ori­tise your other work. For ex­am­ple,

The New Rules Of Work by Alexandra Cavoula­cos and Kathryn Min­shew (RRP £14.99, Orion) is out now

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