Here are Twenty Ways You Can Improve Your Productivity and Effectiveness
1. Keep Track of Your Time for a Week: How do you know what you need to improve if you don't know exactly where all your time is being spent?
·Who are your interrupters, when they are occurring, and what are they concerning?
What you're getting done each day and what you're not accomplishing.
Do you have a good reason for everything you checked off and everything you didn't.
2. Write Down Your Observations After Looking at the Difference Between Your Plan and Reality: What are you doing well, and what do you need to improve? Stress is the uncomfortable distance between the way things are and the way you'd like them to be.
3. Now Examine and Correct 3 Specific Times in Your Time Journal:
a) The Last 15-30 minutes each day. It's important to put closure on every day and create mental separation between work and home. For the record, you should be planning tomorrow at the end of the day! The mind wants to know you have a plan and that you're in control of the situation.
b) The First Hour each day. There is a direct correlation between what you accomplish (in terms of high priority task) and when you can leave each day. Your first hour may be your only good hour before your day goes sideways.
TIP: Limit your exposure to email in the first hour!
c) 90% of all Productivity and Effectiveness gains occur before 1 pm. The afternoon is not the problem. Having a strong first hour will set the tome for the rest of the morning..
4. Identify Your Peak Energy Cycles Each Day: There are 3 peaks each day. For 75% of the population, it's the morning, then the afternoon, and the evening is the lowest. Use your time journal to see if you can spot yours.
5. Match Difficult Tasks Against Your Energy Peaks: When you do this, difficult (typically high value) tasks will take less time, and you'll make fewer mistakes. Try to get two high-value tasks done each morning.
6. Negotiate Interruptions Instead of Doing Them Immediately: Every request is a negotiation opportunity. Never say no but rather suggest a time that allows you to finish what you're currently working on. Try to fit requests into your day where you can "batch" them with a similar task.
7. Only Have One List: It doesn't matter whether it's paper or electronic. The most time- effective number to manage is the number 1. The more lists you have, the more time it will take to manage them and the more time to find what you're looking for.
8. Avoid Immediacy: The single most counter-productive thing you can do is immediacy. When you do things the moment they are requested (without asking any questions), you are setting an unrealistic expectation you will be held to and start to jump from task to task.
9. Batch Like Tasks: The second fastest way to improve productivity is to batch-like tasks.
Email is my number one suggestion. I check email once an hour and "batch," responding to as many as I can in 10-15 minutes, then minimize or close email. (Start with every 30 minutes, to begin with, if you are an email junkie.)
10. Improve Your Communication: The #1 way to improve your effectiveness is to make your Communication more specific and train others to do the same. When a person is going fast, they will communicate more vaguely, which leads to the need for more Communication.
11. Examine All of Your Meetings: The purpose of the meeting should determine when it's scheduled. Decision-making and Brain-Storming meetings in the morning and Status (FYI) meetings in the afternoon. Other Tips:
·If you didn't get an agenda, why did you accept?
·If you weren't told why you were invited, why did you accept?
·Ask if you need to be there the whole time.
·Suggest shorter meetings (Instead of 1 hour, only 50 minutes, etc.)
·Have you ever gone to a meeting and wondered why you were invited?
12. Reduce the Amount of Time You're Spending in Email: The average person is spending more than 2 hours a day in email. Learn to manage and control email. Close the email and check it when you decide to check it. Otherwise, when it goes "ding," human nature will prompt you to check it. (Last In-First Out.)
13. Use the 50/10 Rule: Work hard for 50 minutes, then take a 10-minute break. Resting every 50 minutes will keep you "fresh" throughout the day and maximize your effectiveness.
14. Improve Your Completion Ratio: People don't get promoted for starting many tasks; they get promoted for how many they finish. Using your time journal, track how many tasks you started each day and how many you completed. It's the number one reason why peoples' lists get longer, not shorter. (Try my circle and a checkmark concept.)
15. Each Day Chose Two High-Value Tasks for You and Completed Them: Start your day with one of these two. You need to put YOU into your day FIRST. This strategy will reduce your stress. Construct a "worst case" plan each day. Worst Case: I could complete two tasks. Choosing two tasks will help you prioritize more effectively, and you'll never go home feeling "less than fulfilled." Try to get the second high-value task done before 1 pm, so the afternoon is just "gravy."
16. Ask For and Give Specific Deadlines: The number one way to prioritize is by a specific deadline. If everything is the same priority, ASAP, you will waste time figuring out what to work on next. There will be a high probability of becoming overwhelmed and choosing the wrong task to work on. In addition, you are helping others prioritize when you give them a specific deadline. The second piece of information you need is "importance." Try to find out why they need it by that specific time (politically correct way.)
17. Become a "Master Blender" to Create Work/Life Balance: Everyone says, "I wish I had more work/life balance." It is important to SEE balance. At the end of the day, you should see checkmarks next to three types of activities:
·High-Value Tasks you completed for you
·Tasks you completed that helped others
Personal tasks that improve the quality of your personal life.
18. Put a Large Clock on Your Desk (Next to Your Monitor): Have you ever looked at your watch and said, "Where did the day go?" With a large clock in the right spot, you'll see where the day IS GOING, and it will give you the necessary discipline to keep moving throughout the day.
19. Set Up the Correct File System in Outlook and Use Rules to Manage It: To use Outlook Rules to your advantage, you must have the correct file system in place. Using your INBOX as a to- do list is an absolute time waster. The future of Outlook is to get Outlook to manage your email correctly, so there is virtually nothing in your inbox. It would help if you were working out of your files, NOT inbox.
20. Use the End of the Day to Create a Better Tomorrow and Next Week: The way to improve your daily and weekly results is to use the end of the day (and week) to evaluate your results.
Ask yourself, "What did I do well today, and what could I improve tomorrow or next week?"
The future of becoming more productive and effective is strategic or analytic thought. The end of each day and week offers you that opportunity to learn how to create a more productive/effective tomorrow and next week from today and this week.
TIP: At the end of each day, you should be able to account for where all your time went that day. Don't you want to see why you're exhausted?
A good list will help you with this. How can you improve if you can't see what you need to improve?
NOTE: All of these are addressed in detail in the Organizing for Success 3.0 program.