1. Keep Track of Your Time for a Week.
Print the Timekeeping Journal on my website and track where you’re spending your time for a week. At the end of each day, on the left side of the page), write down what you plan to do the next day. When you come in the next day, on the right side of each page, write down what actually happened. Finally, at the end of the day, write down what stood out from analyzing what you planned and what you actually did.
2. Use the Journal to Identify What Seemed to Work and What Didn’t.
We are creatures of habit. To improve your results, which tasks would you move to a different time slot? How could you handle interruptions more effectively? Could you reduce multi-tasking (or jumping from task to task?) Could you get off to a better start each day? When did you seem to get the most done? Why?
3. Use Your Energy Cycles to Your Advantage.
Each person has three different energy cycles. From your journal, can you see where they are in your day? Could you use your cycle peaks more effectively by working on more difficult or unpleasant tasks during those times? Can you see the low points in your cycles from your timekeeping journal? Could you schedule less difficult tasks (like email and returning calls) during those times?
4. What Could You Do Today that Would Make Tomorrow Easier?
Improving your results is about “Getting Ahead of the Curve.” We create 75% of our own stress. Does everything seem to have a deadline of TODAY? Could you use today as a springboard for tomorrow instead of putting it off?
5. Get a Better Understanding of What Matters Most to Your Leader.
Set aside time to meet with your leader and get definitive direction. This will reduce the time it takes you to prioritize tasks and eliminate misunderstanding. Better communication is the number #1 way to improve productivity!
6. Write Down Performance Observations.
Each day keep track of specific positive performance examples that relate to what matters most to your leader. (This process will also increase your influence with your leader.) It is more effective to show your leader instead of telling him or her.
7. Batch Like Tasks on Your List.
The second fastest way to improve your results is to slow down, group tasks (like responding to email), rather than jumping from task to task. Do this at work and home. At home, before you get in the car to run an errand, what other tasks could you accomplish while you’re out, and in what order. At work, instead of answering every email the second you hear ding, set-up times (at least once an hour) to respond to emails. When you are done, turn up the notification sound until your next response time. Be sure to tell others what you are doing and adjust their expectation of an immediate response. This will increase your focus and discipline thus allowing you to actually respond to more emails.
8. Improve the Quality and Balance of Your Personal Life.
The quality of your personal life will have a positive or negative effect on your overall productivity. Each day identify at least two personal tasks or activities you’re going to accomplish or spend time on that day. At the end of the day, make sure there is a check mark next to each. It is important to see work/life balance. Become a “master blender” by blending your work and personal life each day.
9. Add Closure to the End of Each Day.
A very simple way to improve your results this year is to create mental separation between work and home. This will improve the quality of your sleep, improve your energy and outlook, and enhance the quality of your personal like as well as what you accomplish at work.
10. Try to Account for Where ALL Your Time is Spent Each Day.
It’s not about how many check marks you see at the end of each day. It’s all about what you checked off and what you didn’t. Be sure you have a good reason for everything you accomplished and everything you didn’t. This is the new, more accurate way to improve your results daily.