I’m a freak when it comes to staying organized. Lists are my life. If it’s not on my list, there’s a very good chance it won’t get done. Is this the best, most productive way to live? Maybe not. Does it keep me sane? Absolutely. Most of us frequently overlook the fact that time is the only true luxury we have in life. Being more productive doesn’t make you stronger, cooler, or wealthier, but it can allow you to get more done in less time so you can use the time you save to get more enjoyment out of life. Who doesn’t want that? In case you’re out there trying to navigate the same waters, I thought I’d share with you some tips I found.
1. Do what you don’t want to do first. – If you handle the toughest tasks first when your mind is fresh, you’ll get done quicker and make the rest of the day more enjoyable.
2. Don’t confuse being busy with being productive. – Stop and ask yourself if what you’re working on is worth the effort. Is it bringing you in the same direction as your goals?
3. Create and refer to a TO-DON’T list. – A to-don’t is a list of things not to do. It might sound funny, but it’s useful for keeping track of unproductive habits, like playing online flash games, checking Facebook, etc.
4. Group similar tasks back-to-back. – Switching gears between different types of tasks can be tough. It takes most people several minutes to get into a productive mental groove geared for a specific type of task. Therefore, it makes sense to group similar tasks in an effort to minimize the number of rough patches, and thus wasted time, between task orders.
5. Pay attention and get it right the first time. – The better listener you are, the more you will learn. The more you learn now, the fewer questions you will have later, and the less time you will spend searching for answers. And obviously, doing things right the first time eliminates future delays.
6. Plan ahead and start early. – 10 minutes of dedicated time planning each evening will save you from 30 minutes of ad-hoc preparation each morning. Likewise, starting your morning on purpose 30 minutes early will likely inject at least 60 additional productive minutes into your day. Think about it.
7. Choose a dedicated spot. – Don’t put your car keys, cell phone, etc. in a different spot each evening after work. Choose a dedicated spot and make it a habit. There is nothing more frustrating in the morning than looking for the stuff you need. Morning scavenger hunts are a huge waste of time.
8. Productively use waiting time. – Waiting time does not have to be wasted time. When you are waiting at the doctor’s office, the post office, or on hold for the next available representative, what simple tasks could you complete while you wait? How about sorting through your snail mail or email, writing those thank you notes you’ve been putting off, reading the book you keep meaning to read, reviewing/editing your to-do lists, etc.
9. Handle 2-minute tasks immediately. – If you roughly estimate that a task is going to take you less than two minutes to accomplish, do it right now. It’s a waste of time and energy to keep small tasks like this on your to-do list on in the back of your mind.
10. Turn off the TV. – Nuff said.
11. Make better usage of commute times. – Listen to audio books, make calls, do some proactive time planning, etc. I use Evernote and capture tons of ideas and thoughts when I’m commuting and traveling on business.
12. Touch inbox items only once. – This one is difficult for most people (myself included), but it really makes a difference. For new email or other communications, look over it and decide what to do with it right away: archive, respond, flag for follow-up, etc. Regardless of how you process communications, just make sure you deal with them once rather than wasting time by looking at them without taking decisive action.
13. Tell other people and hold yourself accountable. – It’s always a smart thing to tell people what you’re working on. If you tell your colleagues or friends that you’re going to get something done, it motivates you to see it through to completion. People who have a support system almost always find it easier to make things happen. By the way, I’m VERY good at
annoying kindly reminding others of stuff they said they wanted to do. So, if you want help with this tip email me and I can totally be your accountability partner. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂
I hope you find these tips helpful!
One last thing, kinda related to being efficient and productive. Are you trying to figure out what to wear for the 4th of July? Try this!