About 10 years ago, I realized I spent about 50 to 60 hours a week reacting to my business. None of this time was spent proactively running and growing my business. The moment I came to this realization, I stepped into action.
The first thing I did was set goals so that my gains would be small but constant. Motivated by my wasted time, I read a few great books by Chet Holmes, and worked hard at changing my habits. Now, I’m more productive, and I hope by sharing the following tips you can be too!
Step 1: Touch it Once
When you begin the first task of your day, a call comes in and interrupts you. Then you get distracted by 2 emails. Soon, the initial task is completely pushed aside. You half-typed a response to some emails and have more phone calls to attend to. Finally you circle back to each task. All this rereading, revisiting, and readdressing tasks may only eat up 30 minutes of your day. However, that leads to a substantial 194 hours a year of wasted time. So if you touch it once, TAKE ACTION! Don’t open that email or letter until you’re ready to deal with it.
Step 2: Make Lists
Keeping lists keeps your thoughts and goals organized. Lists help you stay focused on high priorities and highly productive matters. Keeping a list will double your productivity right away. But remember to make the lists reasonable. Stick to the six most important items.
Step 3: Plan how much time each task gets
Allocate an appropriate amount of time to each task. Make the amount of time realistic and if one or more of the items are too long, then write down how much time you will dedicate to it daily.
Step 4: Plan your day
This is not a general guide to how your day might unfold. It must be specific and have a time slot for absolutely everything. This includes each of the six items on your list as well as time to check email and open mail. If you’re following the first rule & only touching these items once, then you need to have a dedicated time each day when you can deal with them. Always schedule time slots for the unexpected!
Step 5: Prioritize
Often times important tasks get pushed to the end of the day because they are the most time consuming or the most difficult. But by the end of the day, there is rarely the time or energy to take these tasks on. Put the most important task first. This simple step will give you a tremendous sense of control and accomplishment.