Last week we discussed the importance of determining daily priorities, maintaining good health, and managing consistent energy, and how it directly relates to enhancing your level of productivity. Did you do your homework? To review, read last week’s blog.
With Part I as our back-drop, let’s talk about some strategies to help enhance your productivity at work. How can we get more accomplished each day without necessarily putting in more hours? Below are five specific steps you can take to become a more productive person.
Step one: Simplify and prioritize your work.
First, simplify your work by reducing what you’re doing. Review your workday routine and, if possible, write it all down. More likely than not, there are some things in the day that could be eliminated entirely from your routine without being missed. What activities can you eliminate right away? This evaluation alone can usually save you some time every day.
Next, prioritize your work into three categories: “Must do,” “Should do,” and “Nice to do.”
“Must do’s” represent the activities that must be done if you are to accomplish your goals. “Should do’s” represent the activities that aren’t absolutely essential to the achievement of your goals. “Nice to do’s” represent the activities that can be left undone or postponed without affecting your goals. Categorizing your activities every morning will help ensure that the time you have is spent on critical, high priority activities.
Step two: Delegation.
Now that you have simplified and prioritized your work, what can you delegate? Having established your “must do’s,” you evaluate each one and determine which of these tasks can be handed off to someone else. Then evaluate the “should do’s” and determine which of these can be delegated. If you are the only one that can complete certain tasks, the next question you must ask yourself is: “who can I train so that I can delegate the work to them?” This process will help give others more responsibility while easing your own list of tasks so you can focus on what’s truly important.
Step three: Stay on task.
The secret of true concentration lies in the acceptance of endless distractions, or as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” You need to discipline yourself to avoid getting sidetracked. This is quite possibly the most difficult aspect of time management; however, there are several strategies that can help in this process.
Start by building in several breaks throughout the day. This will cause you to step back and evaluate where you are in your day and the goals you set for that day. It also allows time for you to recharge. Oftentimes, all it takes is just a five minute break to allow you to refocus.
Schedule specific times in your day to conduct your routine tasks (check and responding to emails; paying bills, ordering products, etc.) and then stick to that schedule.
Learn how to gracefully keep conversation short. If an urgent issue comes up that you have to deal with, deal with it and then get right back to the task at hand. Don’t be a slave to your phone. It’s OK to turn off the ringer when you don’t want to be interrupted.
Step four: See each task to its completion.
Planning a task is easy. Starting the task is easy. The challenge comes in completing the task. This is where many of us fail. We make great progress and are almost finished with an important project when something distracts us or takes us off task. Focus on getting back on task, then seeing that to completion. Many successful people attribute their success to the true reality of staying on task and completing each one before starting a new one.
Step five: Review and Preview.
At the end of every day, review the work that has been completed. Then preview the next day’s set activities. This step seems obvious, but is often overlooked. When you know exactly what you have to do the next day, you’re able to enjoy your time off, and be productive the next day.
While they may sound simple, anyone who has tried knows that simple to understand does not necessarily mean simple to implement, especially when you’re trying to retrain your own habits. Remember that progress is what’s important. Revisit these tips frequently, and focus on being better today than you were yesterday!
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