Maximize Your Time: 10 Tips for “Extreme Productivity”

Copyright 2006 Synergy Strategies

1) Know your work style and use the tools that match. If you work well with technology, use your computer and PALM for your scheduling and organization. If you are a visual person, consider using a paper calendar and written to-do list. If you are a people person, develop a team around you to compliment your strengths. If you work alone, find time to focus and remain distraction free. If you are a morning person, attack the most important tasks early in the day.

2) Use ONE calendar. Sometimes people will have several calendars. One for family, work, computer, personal appointments, etc. Keep ONE calendar for everything. Use different colors or type styles to differentiate categories.

3) Make a to-do list at the end of each day. Your mind naturally begins to work on the list as you sleep. When you awake, you are ready to work, are very productive and organized. Estimate how much time each thing will take you and only put on your next day to do list what is reasonable to get done.

4) “Eat your frog first”. A Brian Tracy concept, do the hardest thing you have to do all day, first, before you do anything else. Doing this will provide you with the feeling of success in having a ‘burden” off you back and momentum to accomplish the remaining tasks.

5) Have a clear goal and read it daily. When you have a goal you know what to focus on and work toward. If you do not have this at the front of your mind, it is easy to get caught up with the urgent things of the day or trapped in reacting to e-mail, phone calls, interruptions and other people’s emergencies.

6) Have a “power hour”. Designate one hour each day to close the door, shut down e-mail, turn off the ringer on the phone and guard yourself from interruptions. Have a pre-picked project that you will work on during this time only. Make sure to go to the bathroom, get a drink, and do whatever else you need to in order to ensure you do not leave once this hour starts. Give yourself 30 min. after this hour to return calls, e-mails and care for people with whom you need to follow-up that you missed during the POWER HOUR.

7) Touch it once. E-mail, mail, papers, etc. Touch it and make a decision. File it, toss it or put it in a place for action. Sorting bins are helpful for this. Label your bins, folders, e-mails, etc. Sorting bins often have labels like, things to: read, file, do this week, urgent, bills, etc. If your subject lines in e-mails are accurate it is easy for you and the recipient to find the e-mail. Paper, soft copy (computer), e-mail folders should have matching labels.

8) Have daily habits. After you develop a routine of things that are simple but important, your body will naturally do them. This is important because we can get distracted by our regular routines and use them as vices to interrupt, procrastinate and prolong important things that really need to get done. If you start your day right, you will be ready to do those urgent and important tasks, increasing your every day productivity.

9) Pre-prep. Have you ever been amazed on cooking shows how they make a complicated dish in 10 minutes? Ok, part is edited TV time, but they also have everything pre-prepped for quick assembly. Why not do the same? Prepare your information packets and new client folders, turn common documents into a template, set up e-mail group/ distribution lists for teams, etc.

10) Maximize car systems. Listen to a book on cd/tape to maximize your windshield time and learn. Have a bin to put important things rather than having them all over the car. Have a trash bag to catch the liter. Always have a bottle of water in the car with you; dehydration causes fatigue, memory loss and low concentration. Make sure your contacts are portable (palm, planner, business card file book, etc.) so you keep people and numbers at your fingertips (call if running late, caught in traffic, remember something while out and a quick call can take car of it). Enjoy relaxing, breathing and taking in the day while driving (rather than cleaning, talking on the phone, etc.)

Be the master of your domain. When you implement a few simple productivity strategies and develop them as time saving habits, you will quickly enjoy the benefit of more time and energy and overall increased productivity.