6 Tips to get the Most Done in the Least Amount of Time
We all hear about doing “more with less” or “more with the same.” We continue to reinvent ourselves to keep up, grow, or succeed. We are told to grow, change, or die.
How do we get the most done, in the least amount of time, completing the tasks that will make the most significant difference?
$ix Tips for $uccess in 2013
- KNOW your passion and purpose. The most successful businesspeople are those whose vision is closely aligned with reality. What are our BIG goals? Are you VERY CLEAR about them? Here are two examples situations and what you might do about each:
- Do you want to increase company revenue by 30% this year? Do you have a plan to do that? How will you measure your success? Now is the time to put those metrics into place. If you cannot do this internally, seek help from SCORE or hire a private business coach or consultant – immediately.
- Have you been in your job for a number of years, say 10 to 15 or 20? Has more and more work been piled up on you? Do you now work 12 hours daily when you formerly completed the required tasks in 8 hours? Do you feel fortunate to “just have a job?” Are you feeling burned out? Do you- really- want a new job or a more balanced life, but you dismiss these items? Now is the time to pay attention to these feelings and take action. You have more control than you think. Shift your mindset from that of “victim” to one of “what choices do I have” and you will start to see immediate improvement. Then follow the tips that follow for even more success!
- 2. Plan the work, and work the plan.
- “Bookend” your days, weeks, months, quarters, and years. What holds the books on a shelf, straight and true? Bookends! By bookending, I am referring to checking in with yourself at the beginning and ending of each day. Allow at least 15 minutes at the beginning and then at the end of the day for this. What are my priorities today? What has come in? Do the new items that come in align with my priorities? If not, what is in my control, or out of my control? At the end of the day, review your day and think though your priorities for the following day. This simple exercise will relieve stress and increase your sense of control- and you will slowly begin to do what matters most to you. Repeat this for the beginning and end of your week, your month, your quarter, and your year. It’s addicting, and it works.
- 3. Map it.
- For many, a strict schedule is a recipe for disaster. If every minute of every day is perfectly planned, no margin for flexibility is allowed. Simply put, work life is not static. Many businesspeople resist scheduling, citing this as the reason. They are right. The answer? Time mapping. To create a time map, take out your “thick crayon”. Think in terms of “blocks of time” or “rhythm of a typical day” versus minute by minute scheduling. Think in terms of color. Color if that works better for you. If you are a creative or visual type- liking to “lay out” your work, try color.
- First, ask yourself “what time of day do I have the most energy?” For many people, this is the morning. Let’s assume this is the case for you. For one morning, block out, in color, time for your most important (but not “urgent”) task. This is likely a task that will take you toward your “big goal” (see tip one). Treat this colored block like you would any important client. It is, in fact, as important as your most important client.
- Try coloring in only one block for the first 3 weeks. Then try two blocks for the second 3 weeks. After that, you can begin thinking in “rhythm”. When someone asks you about meeting, and you know the mornings are your creative time, you can ask them if they have any afternoons available. You will begin to feel more “in control”, get more of your important tasks done, and have more energy at the end of every day.
- 4. Truly accept that there are really only 24 hours in every day: consciously decide how to use them. Once you accept that time itself is fixed, that is, you cannot “manage time” but can only manage yourself around your time, you realize that the choice is yours. Are you happy with your 60 hour work week? Or, would you like to see 40 hours again? Try these suggestions:
i. Eliminate: work only on the projects that will have the largest, most powerful impact on your work. Work on those items that align most closely with your “big goals.”
ii. Delegate: Be sure that when delegating, you select the right person, be clear, confirm understanding of the task, and identify a check in date and time.
iii. Abbreviate: Did you know that multitasking actually decreases your productivity by about 20%? When you slowly bring back focus, to work on one task at a time, your productivity will skyrocket. Reducing multitasking by only 20% can yield 6 weeks of time per year.
- Embrace technology, but don’t ignore the basics. I love my gadgets. Really. But, gadgets alone do not help you with your productivity at work. Why? We can get so caught up in “the system” that we lose track of time, priorities, etc., and we fall right back into overwhelm. That said, some of my favorite technological gadgets follow:
- The i-devices: All of them. I love iphone, ipad, ipod touch, icloud, siri. They “just work” (at least most times)! Although many “to do” programs and apps are out there, and more appear daily, “reminders” on the i-devices works perfectly. Siri, the voice recognition software, will take commands to “remind you” to call a person at 2 pm, remember your item when you leave work (yes, it knows where you are when you allow this option), etc. It can act as a personal assistant of sorts.
- Google Calendar: The cloud-based calendar, share-able with the world and integrates with others’ google calendars.
- Dropbox: Cloud-based storage, particularly useful when working remotely and/or with committees. Options to make folders shared, private, public.