You’re busy, I’m busy, it seems that all of us are busy trying to get done what needs to get done in our increasingly busy days. Our technology helps but it hinders too and our calendars are packed with simply too much for us to accomplish.
Everyone seems to be on overload but some people seem to be able to do so much more than others. Why is that? Do they have a different clock, one with more than 24 hours? Of course not but for the most part they do things a bit differently and so seem to gain time that can be elusive for the rest of us.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 5 things that productive people do that you can put into action too:
Start the night before. Take 10-15 minutes each night and get things ready for the next day. What you choose to do on this list is up to you but consider the following:
- Pack your briefcase or bag so you can grab and go in the morning; Put into files any papers that you will need for the next day so that you can get your hands on them quickly
- Check the weather forecast and lay out the clothes that you plan to wear
- Organize lunch for yourself and/or your family and if possible pack the lunch bags too
- Look at your work calendar and take care of any last minute emails that need to be sent so you are ready for the next day
- Make certain that you have the address of your first meeting and if not, look it up online. Do the same for others during the day. This way you have them available at your fingertips and don’t have to worry about this as your day unfolds.
The key is to not run around in the morning trying to gather your thoughts and your belongings while at the same time attempting to exit the house and get to work on time.
Control your technology and don’t let it control you. We’ve already acknowledged that technology can be a tremendous asset however it can also eat away at your time during the day. If you find that you spend more time than necessary reading your email, checking social media or perusing You Tube then you should establish a technology schedule in which you assign specific times of the day when you can jump into the social media swimming pool. The same holds true with email. Many time management experts recommend that you only check your email at specified times two or three times a day. Of course, both of these guidelines must be looked at with due consideration for the type of business that you are in. Many professions require more dutiful attention to online activities than others but be honest with yourself about the time you spend (waste?!) online.
Make certain to have a “formal” agenda and time schedule for all meetings. Meetings and teleconferences are a necessary part of our business day but they don’t have to undermine our productivity. Make certain to create an agenda for all meetings and distribute it to attendees before the meeting so they can gather the required information in order to be prepared and productive. There’s nothing worse than a meeting that goes on too long without anything being accomplished. Set a time limit for the meeting. 15 minutes? 30 minutes? Decide in advance and make sure to stick to the schedule.
Delegate. Be honest, you know that you can’t do it all or at least do it all in the manner that you would wish to have things accomplished. It’s best to delegate all of the tasks that other people can do effectively and leave for yourself tasks that are either mission critical or that no one else can do. Look to other employees in your office or work with an outsourced resource and you will find yourself with additional time in your day. I try to delegate to my staff first thing in the morning. This way their ‘projects’ are underway, and I am able to focus on the ones that I have to be involved with.
Be attuned to your most productive hours of the day. Not everyone is a “morning” person no matter how much sleep he or she has gotten. Conversely some people start to fade mid day. The more attuned you are to your own body rhythms the better you will be at scheduling your work accordingly. Forcing yourself to do something when you just aren’t up to it will steal precious minutes or even hours.
Bottom-line it’s all pretty simple but if you do these things consistently you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you can be.
And of course the one big factor: just do it. Don’t make excuses or lie to yourself. Get started now and take back some time.