Do you ever reach the end of the day and realize that half of your “to do list” did not get done? Do you find yourself engaging in a negative internal dialogue that is focused on your failure to complete tasks in a timely manner? Do you routinely state that “there is just never enough time in the day to get everything done”? Do you promise yourself that you will do a better job tomorrow? If you are like most of us the answer to these questions is a resounding YES! Time management is essential in today’s fast paced, high tech world where every minute seems to count. Below are 4 strategies that I believe will increase your personal productivity and provide you with a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
- Take control of your online activity. A recent study suggested that the average person spends a minimum of 4 hours per day in (non work related) online activity. *It is safe to assume that a portion of this activity is taking place during business hours. For the vast majority of people social media sites, chat rooms and online games are not productive activities and they are taking us away from our work and family priorities. Try establishing a discipline of checking in online twice per day (once in the morning and once in the evening)limiting yourself to 30 minutes per session. This is more than enough time to answer emails, visit your social media pages or randomly surf the net. Your employer, business partners and other family members will be grateful for your decision to spend less time online. You may be quite surprised by just how much extra time you can create and how much your personal relationships will improve by employing this discipline.
- Plan your day the night before. This applies to both work and family obligations. What are the top 3-5 tasks that you must complete at work? What are 3-5 family related tasks that you must complete? WRITE THEM DOWN AND DO NOT WAIVER. When we prioritize our tasks and focus exclusively on their completion we will find that we have more than enough time in our day. Long “to do” lists usually end up distracting us from our top priorities. “List management” is not considered a high priority activity.
- DELEGATE. All of us have strengths and obviously we have weaknesses. It is important that we spend the majority of our time in our areas of strength. Many of us have been told that we need to improve on our weaknesses and so we invest in books, tapes and seminars in an effort to find the magic bullet that will make us stronger. Learning to delegate is one of the most empowering things that we can do. Where we are weak, someone else is strong. When our time is limited, someone else has more than enough. Delegation is leverage and it is advisable to use it!
- Learn to say NO. We all know people that are “busy bodies”. They are on six different church committees, the team parent, the organizer of the company Christmas party, serve on the HOA board and can often be heard complaining that there are never enough hours in their day. These “special” people have an insatiable need to be needed and everyone knows that they are the “go to person” for other people who truly prioritize their time. One of the most empowering words in the English language is the word NO. We all need to use this word more often. NO, for a myriad of reasons is an underused answer. NO means that I am putting first things first and that I value my time. Overextended people are highly unproductive people and can become what business coach Jeffrey Combs refers to as “angry givers”. I encourage you to build your NO muscles, they will serve you well.
By implementing these strategies I have eliminated a tremendous amount of “wasted” time and I am very focused on the high priority tasks that continue to dramatically increase my personal productivity. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback.