Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
It’s a new year.
That means you have a new opportunity to embrace efficiency.
It’s time to make things smoother, cleaner and better in your business.
After all, when it’s all said and done, productivity pays off.
Wake Up Early
Unless you own a company that works primarily at night like a bar or restaurant, the most productive time of the day is in the morning after a good night’s sleep. So get up early and get up at the same time every morning in order to get your best rest and not feel groggy as you get moving.
Turn Off Alerts
There is no reason your phone or computer should be buzzing anytime someone emails you, posts something to social media or posts on your Facebook page. Go through your page and turn off some of the notification so that you’re only disturbed when something important comes through and you’re not distracted by endless phone chatter the rest of the day.
Maximize Dead Time
There always seems to be time that you’re waiting. You wait in the doctor’s office or you wait in traffic. Why not take advantage of that time by reading up on your industry or making phone calls? You can do a lot to be productive in the fifteen minutes between meetings or while you wait in the pick-up line. But be careful to maximize your dead time – not overtake your family or personal time with work.
Set Ending Times on Meetings
An open ended meeting is bound to drag on simply because it can. Instead of scheduling the start time of meetings, schedule both the start and finish times. You will be amazed just how much you can get done in a fifteen or thirty minute meeting when all parties know the agenda and the time limit for discussion. A bonus perk – setting end times on meetings also lets you know when you can schedule the next item on your list.
Organize Your Next Day
The final hour or so of your work day is often the least productive time. You’re tired and ready to wind up. Instead of forcing yourself to do just one more thing, use that time to prepare instead for your next day. Make a schedule for the next day and prepare the necessary items. This way when you walk in the office door the next morning, your full day is lined up with notes, phone numbers, important documents and essential items to maximize your rested state.
It’s very easy as an entrepreneur to burn yourself out trying to do it all. While it can seem like wasted time, take breaks. Make your break the time that you walk around the block or drink a bottle of water. Close your eyes for ten minutes or chat with a friend. The time away from work and rushing will make you more productive when you sit down and get back to it.
Be Selective with Your Time
It’s an easy trap. You need customers and projects so you take on just about anything that comes along. And then you’re too busy to look for the ones you really want or to grow your business. Don’t be afraid to say no, even if it means losing some profits. A loss now to protect your valuable time may mean bigger profits down the road.
There are times when every detail matters. And there are certainly times when good enough is good enough. Find your balance between these two so that you know when you can check something off the list without it being a time-consuming, personal masterpiece.
In the moments before you go to sleep at night or before you climb out of bed in the morning, think about the top two or three things you want to get done in a day. Start each day with an eye on those three things and work on getting them done and off your list as quickly as possible for an excellent dose of productive satisfaction.
Do the Worst, First
Of the three major items on your daily list, take care of the worst one first. Knock out the one that you’re dreading and then the weight will be off your shoulders and you’ll not only enjoy the rest of the day more, you’ll be able to move on to other items with a lighter heart.
Don’t Bog Down in Details
There are some days where you do nothing but busy work all day long. These days are the worst because they wind up feeling unproductive. If you feel yourself drowning in details, take a break from the busy work and knock out one of your important tasks on your list. That way, even if the rest of the day is emails and meetings, you’ve finished one thing you can be proud of.
Touch Things Once (When Possible)
Allot a chunk of time for checking email or voicemail. Then, as you go through, handle as much as you can immediately. Open the email, read it and send a response. For the vast majority of your tasks you can simply handle things once if you’ve scheduled time well. The worst time suck is skimming emails once as they come in and then having to go back later to reread them.
While the weekend is for resting, checking in on Sunday evening will let you know what’s in your inbox and give you an idea of what you are looking at for Monday morning. Hopefully then you can go to sleep peacefully instead of dreading the Monday morning rush.
Schedule a Day with No Meetings
If you have at least one day on your calendar with no meetings or interruptions, you can churn through a tremendous amount of work. This day is even more productive if you turn off your phone, block out your calendar and pretend you’re on an airplane with nothing available but your laptop and to-do list.
For many, productivity is making big changes all at once. For others, it’s a collection of small changes made over time. As the New Year approaches, think about what works well in your business now and what things you can do to improve it. Then, the next step is simple – make the necessary changes and move forward toward a new, productive, year.