How CIOs Can Get Rid Of Their To-Do Lists

CIOs have to find a way to get things done
CIOs have to find a way to get things done
Image Credit: Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

If you are like most CIOs, you always have too much to do and not enough time in which to get it all done. Most of us deal with this challenge by creating lists of the things that we need to get accomplished so that we don’t forget anything. Creating a list and then marking things off as we complete them is what most productivity solutions are based on. The problem is that our to-do lists just seem to keep on growing and there are things on that list that we know that we’ll never have a chance to get to do. People with the CIO job need a better way to get things done.

How To Handle The Important Things

Let’s face it – not everything that we have to do has the same priority. For the really important things what we need is a reminder. What seems to work the best is to create a bi-weekly note that we can use to remember what is really important. What we need to do is to sit down and think about what we really need to accomplish in the next week or so and then write these things down.

What you are going to end up with is a list that contains between 5-10 items. The real value of doing this is simply the writing of the list. However, since you now have a printed list of what you want to be able to accomplish you now have something that you can refer to. If you are getting towards the end of the week and you are not sure that you have everything that you needed to get done handled then you can review your list and make sure that nothing has fallen between the cracks.

Dealing With Fixed Deadlines

Deadlines are a fact of life for all CIOs. If we make the mistake of putting a deadline on a to-do list it will get lost with everything else that is on that list. Deadlines belong in one and only one place – on a calendar. The great thing about most calendar apps these days is that you can create a calendar that only contains deadlines so that they will really stand out for you.

Once you have a calendar that contains all of your deadlines, you can take the next step. On this calendar you can go ahead and schedule time to work on the task that has the deadline long before it’s due. Keeping the deadline in sight and making sure that you block out the time needed to complete it will allow you to make sure that you never get surprised by a due date.

Where To Put Good Ideas

Most people in the CIO position have ideas that just seem to pop into their heads. When this happens, more often than not what we do is we add these great ideas to our to-do list. The problem with doing this is that when we finally get some free time to work on one of these ideas, we can never find them. They are buried somewhere in our to-do list. We need a better way.

One way to solve this problem is to put all of your good ideas into a spreadsheet. Doing this allows you to keep ideas in one place so when you want to get and use a good idea, you’ll know exactly where to go. This will also allow you to both sort and prioritize your list of good ideas. This is exactly what you’ll need when you go looking for a good idea.

Emails That Need To Be Sent

Email is how a lot of CIOs both live and die. All too often we end up using our email inboxes as a sort of to-do list. This can be very inefficient because all it serves to do is to clog up our email system and makes it that much harder for us to find the emails that really matter. We need a better way of handling this form of communication.

It turns out that there is a better way. Most of the popular email systems now come with add-ons that allow you to bring forward an email on a specific date or after a given amount of time has elapsed. This gets the email out of your inbox but at the same time makes sure that you are reminded about it later on when it is important.

What All Of This Means For You

There is no doubt that being a CIO is a tough job. We are called upon to do a lot of different things during a given day because of the importance of information technology and often there is too much for us to do. This is why most of us create a to-do list. However, once we’ve created a to-do list we then have to try to accomplish what is on it and this is where all too often we end up dropping the ball. How should a CIO get rid of their to-do list?

There is no one way to get rid of a to-do list. However, we can take a number of steps that will help us to do a better job of accomplishing what we know that we need to do. One thing that we can do is to take the time to sit down and determine what are the really important things that we need to get done. This should create a list of 5 to 10 items that we can work on during a given week. When we have tasks that have a fixed deadline we need to move them to our calendar. We can create a special purpose calendar for things that have a deadline and even book time to work on them before they are due. We all have good ideas that we’d like to work on and instead of putting them on a to-do list we can place them in a spreadsheet where they can be sorted. We need to stop using our inboxes as a to-do list and get an add-on that lets us have reminder emails arrive when we need to see them.

The goal of any CIO is to get as much work done as we can. Since there always seems to be more work to do than time to do it in, to-do lists have been a key part of our lives. However, they generally don’t work that well and so we need to make changes. Use the tips that we’ve discussed to get rid of your to-do list and you just might be amazed at how much more productive you can become!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If you put all of your deadlines on a calendar, how can you make sure that you stay aware of when they are due?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The person with the CIO job realizes that their company has a significant problem when it comes to hiring people. They can’t always trust that the resume that the person has given them is truthful. The traditional way of trying to make sure that the company is getting the straight story is to run a background check on each candidate. However, this can be an expensive and time consuming task. The arrival of a new type of technology, the blockchain, holds out the promise of being able to provide a company with the assurance that they are looking for.