Tactics, Techniques And Action Steps
2. Learn to say no to low pay-off tasks. It’s easy to be busy with less important work. If the task is not important today, don’t waste your time on it. The fewer low pay-off items you work on, the more productive you’ll be.
3. Wipe out any unnecessary travel. Take advantage of today’s time-saving technology. Wherever possible, use the telephone, fax machine or e-mail to deal with the important issues of the day. Avoiding personal visits frees up time for more productive work.
4. Speak your thoughts into a cassette recorder, or use voice-recognition software and then edit your spoken words into the appropriate format. This is an easy way to express your ideas, without trying to “write” the perfect piece. For many people, writing is a chore—but talking is easy, as long as it’s not to an audience. In many cases, the most effective writing is a one-on-one personal communication.
5. Introduce daily deadlines. Like them or not, deadlines increase productivity. The closer we get to an impending deadline, the more we are pressured into doing whatever it takes to complete the task. Institute a series of deadlines— monthly… weekly… daily. As each deadline approaches, the real work begins. Deadlines can give your productivity a significant boost as long as you stick to them.
6. Stand up while communicating on the telephone. Standing helps you get right to the point, for a faster, more productive call. It’s easy to get a little too comfortable while sitting and phone conversations seem to drag on longer.
7. Group several small, related tasks together and knock them off at the same time. Return all telephone calls at one point in the day, preferably after you’ve completed your crucial action to-do list. Completing several small tasks at once is easier as you build the momentum. Consolidating your efforts helps you make the most of your time. Cluster together small jobs like banking and post office pick-up/delivery, or data-base updating and responding to e-mail messages. When you’re forced to shift from one type of activity to another and back again, you lose time trying to re-focus and re-gain momentum.
8. Conduct meetings efficiently. Make it known in advance the precise start time and stick with it. Close the door to begin the meeting. Don’t feel obligated to brief latecomers. Develop a reputation for holding meetings on time regardless. People will soon come to understand that you mean business and your meetings will be more productive. Scheduling meetings at odd times like 1:50pm or 3:25pm will help to convey a need for punctuality.
9. Challenge yourself. Always try to beat your personal best. Focus your attention on finding a better, more efficient way of doing the same task before you. By making it a game, you can turn even the most mundane task into something is interesting and fun.
10. Start your to-do list on a single, full-size sheet of paper. List everything, without concern for where it might fit in sequence. After listing all tasks, identify the 3 specific groups of tasks (A’s, B’s &C’s) by using different colored markers. Once prioritized, you can then re-organize them easily into your day planner in the right sequence. This way, as you start each day, all your critical tasks are already laid out for you.
11. Group all your important records together. Maintain only one to-do list and one day planner. Preferably, your to-do list should be a part of your planner. Keep permanent records and avoid making notes on envelopes and small shreds of paper. Use your planner/notebook for all documentation. To try and utilize more than one list is unproductive duplication. You also run the risk of missing a key element while transferring bits of data.
12. Get right to the point in all communications. Avoid the long and wasteful windup. Keep your message short and sweet wherever possible. Trim the fat and the filler. Be respectful of others time and they’ll return the favor.
13. Generate hard copy records of your duties and responsibilities. If you rely exclusively on your computer’s hard drive to keep records, sooner or later you’re bound to experience a frustrating crash that could wipe out everything. Computers can and do fail. If that’s all you have, without back-up, you could face serious frustrations. Build a paper trail, so you always have back-up to prevent any possible mishap.
14. Catch yourself achieving and reward yourself with glowing praise. Life, in many respects, is a mind game. Sometimes playing little tricks and games with ourselves can stimulate new levels of productivity and accomplishment. A little positive self-talk for goals reached can help you achieve more.
15. Add incentives to trigger greater effort. Promise yourself or your team, something that would really be enjoyed, if you can reach your target on time. Dangle a big enough carrot and you’ll find creative ways to overcome obstacles and achieve goals in record time.
16. Post your plan. Keeping a visible record of your progress as you work away at a difficult project can spur you on to greater achievements. Use your outline as a checklist and mark off each individual task as it’s completed. This helps you stay on track, maintain motivation and provides visual proof of accomplishment.
17. Start somewhere other than the beginning. Sometimes it’s best to just get started at any point on a project. Trying to stick to the start-to-finish protocol
you learned in school, may be counter-productive. If the beginning is causing you difficulty, skip it and move on to something you can do right away. Take the easiest step, and do it first. Then go on to the next easiest.
18. Take some form of productive action immediately. Know that your moment of power is NOW. Nothing in the past… and nothing in the future is as vital as the moment before you right now. The only time you can count on with certainty are those moments that lie before you today. Do not waste them.
19. Produce forms to reduce duplication of creative energies. Prepare generic documents that can be used for similar applications, over and over again. Fax cover sheets, meeting agenda forms, questionnaires, and testimonial requests are but a few examples of documents that can be standardized for widespread use.
20. Act as your own coach. On days when your tempted to wander from the most important task, catch yourself and adjust your course. The easiest way to develop self-motivation is to keep your main goal in view at all times. The goal is the reason-why you’re doing what you’re doing. Having a goal in mind, something that you’re working toward, gives you the fuel you need to get through the tough times.
21. Face challenges and difficulties head-on. Often the most important task at any given time is the least appealing. When that’s the case, the best thing to do is to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Dig in. Usually it’s not as bad as you’ve imagined.
22. Delegate wherever possible. Follow-up to make sure others are on track and on time. Often, individual tasks can be handled by others. Utilizing the resources of others can be a big help where adequate direction and training has been provided.
23. Establish an efficient filing system. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing
you have the materials you need… and not being able to locate them. One way of adding efficiency to filing is to create an index page and place it at the front of each file drawer. Categories can be numbered systems or alphabetical listings, as long as there’s plenty of room for relevant additions. As you add a new file to the draw, note it on the index. Put everything in it’s rightful place and it will be there when you need it.
24. Keep your day planner (preferred) or a notebook within reach at all times. Record all your ideas, thoughts, concepts and any other information that can pop into your mind at anytime… and often does while you’re busy doing other things. Make note of non-urgent issues you wish to share with others and do so at the end of the workday.
25. Make decisions quickly and firmly. People who get things done in life seem to share the characteristic of making quick decisions and sticking with them. Don’t waste time deliberating. Size up the situation as best you can and make a decision. Not all decisions can be made that quickly, but many day-to-day type decisions can be. The more you practice this, the better and more efficient you’ll become.
26. Minimize the time it takes to prepare responses. Learn to use the phone effectively to deliver prompt responses. Wherever possible, use the telephone to reply to correspondence. Letters and faxes don’t necessarily have to be responded to in like fashion. A simple phone call can often do the trick in a fraction of the time it would take to prepare send a letter.
27. Maintain a sound mind and body. Good physical and mental health are essential to maximum accomplishment. Managing your time is about managing your life and good health is vital to a good life. To enjoy your accomplishments to the fullest, you need good health. Without it, nothing else matters much. Being in excellent physical condition gives you more stamina and endurance. It also makes you more alert and less stressed.
28. Exercise on a regular basis. Treat your body as a well-maintained machine and you’ll operate more efficiently, for greater periods of time. Regular exercise of any kind can help you feel more vibrant and alive. Rest after physical exertion is what re-builds and strengthens the body.
29. Learn to speed-read. Many courses and books are available to help you. It’s surprisingly easy for average readers to at least double their typical reading speed with the help of a few simple ideas and techniques. Most courses are designed to go way beyond doubling your speed, but they do require continuous practice. Just doubling your speed will cut reading time in half, freeing up more time for other important tasks.
30. Concentrate on the desired result at all times. Know your outcome. Be aware of your goal and the sense of accomplishment you’ll experience with each completed task. By keeping the end result clearly in mind, you’ll know why it’s important that you press on to get things done.
31. Stick to your schedule. While it’s inevitable that other things come up periodically that call for your attention, you must not get side-tracked. When a
distraction occurs…acknowledge it, record the details, then set it aside for a later time. After you’ve completed your critical tasks for the day, go back to the notes and deal with the interruption then.