Welcome back! This week’s blog post will focus on something we can all improve in. We all have the same 24 hours in a day but how we use that time varies greatly! This blog post will give you some suggestions and tools that we use to save you time by increasing your productivity and organizing your life. Let’s get started!
Do you find at the end of the day you are telling yourself, “Where did the time go today? I didn’t get anything done that I needed to.” I think we have all said this to ourselves at least one time or another or if you say that to yourself regularly my goal is that this blog post will bring you value and share some ways you can get some time back and feel more productive at the end of the day.
What we don’t want you to do is try and implement multiple types of tools and suggestions all at the same time. All this will do will cause you to become more overwhelmed and want to ditch the whole process. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Have that same thought process when you look at ways you can improve your productivity. Implement one technique at a time and slowly implement the other tools you may feel will help to get more organized in your day. Don’t implement another idea until your previous idea becomes a habit. On average a new habit can take as little as 3 weeks or it could take much longer depending on the complexity of the task. This is something I had to work on myself. Every time I want to learn a new skill, I take a deep dive in and want to implement everything all at once only to get frustrated and for a brief moment feel like quitting. The goal here is to implement the techniques in a way that they become second nature and you do them because it has become a habit and a regular part of your day.
1. Here is the easiest way to get started. Tackling the “To Do” List. Don’t go to bed without planning your day for tomorrow. Are you a list person? Me too, but I want to challenge you to think about how best to use that list. If all you have is a big “to do” list that gets longer every day as you add more and more to the list and hopefully checking some things off that list as you go, you are not getting the most out of that list. I have a “to do” book. Michaels Craft/Hobby store has some great little books you can pick up for writing all kinds of. I purchased the To Do book. You don’t need a book or need to spend any money. I like to us a book or even a spiral notebook will do the same trick and that is to allow me to go back and look at what was on the list previously. Often times a single paper list gets lost or thrown out and sometimes there is information on there that may be useful at a later date. How I use this “to do” list is a bit different. Place all the things on the list that you need to do for the upcoming week. Sunday night for me is like a school night. Getting everything prepared for the week ahead. Organizing my week so I can make the most of it and by the end of the week when it is time for some play time or family time I don’t have a guilty bone in my body and can really enjoy myself without worry about what I should be doing or what I didn’t get done during the week. More about some of these strategies as we continue this post. For now, just focus on putting things on the list that are a priority to get done in the upcoming week. What gets scheduled gets done. Schedule time with your kids, date night with your partner, the massage or pedicure you want to get.
2. Sunday Night Ritual This is where the magic happens and can set the tone for your entire week. Before I go to bed on Sunday night, I make sure I do these things.
· Update my To Do list. I put on the list the priorities to accomplish for the upcoming week as well as the easy things I want to remember to get done such as “make a hair appointment.” When setting your priorities for the week, look at all areas of your life. Health, Work, Leisure, Family, etc.
· I use the Darren Daily Sunday Planner. You don’t have to use that but I find it a simple way to have a document set up where I can just fill in the blanks. Darren Hardy is someone I consider a mentor. He has interviewed all the top income earners in business and shares tips and strategies to become more successful in life and business. As you know I share many of the Darren Daily videos on our Facebook page and these are free. Each one is about 5 minutes long and I find them very useful. If you go to darrenhardy.com and click on Free Resources you can get access to the Sunday Planner and his Darren Daily. What ever method you want to use the object and goal here is to sort out what are the priorities for the week and what must get done. What gets scheduled gets done. What I don’t put on this list is all the little things I know I have to do every day. I don’t want a big laundry list of what I need to get done. I want the meat and potatoes. What projects or priorities must get done this week? Here is a side note. I encourage you to think about the things that might get in the way of accomplishing your goals for the week. Is there something you need to NOT do during the week that will help you free up the time to meet your goal of getting your priorities done? What about that favorite T.V. show? Can you record it and watch it on the weekend when you have your “free” time scheduled?
· Plan Each Day the Night Before; The other thing I do on Sunday night is plan Monday. I am a visual and tactile person. I am a visual learner and like hands on or tactile learning. What this means for me is I like colors. I like visual cues and I like to touch and feel things. You may not be that way but you need to decide how you best function. Are you an auditory person? Do you learn by listening? Just keep in mind, the principles I am sharing will work for everyone but you may need to tweek them to best suit your style. That’s ok. It has to fit your style or you won’t continue to do it. You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole no matter how hard you try! So here is my crazy anal-retentive way of doing it! I know I have some sisters out there that may not find this crazy!! I use colored 5x7 Index cards to plan out my day. I keep telling myself if I just kept it all in one planner I would be better off but I find the index cards handy, portable and easy to use. I find I run out of room on my planner when I try to put in all the details I want regarding my daily plan of action. On the index card I write the days priorities on the right side of the card. On the left side of the card I write out the times I am working. On top I write the day and the date. If I am off of work, I write work 7-430pm and then start writing down the hours until I go to bed starting with 5:00 p.m. If I am off, I start writing down the hours beginning at 7:30 a.m. I will show an example shortly.
· Daily DMO: What is your Daily Method of Operation? What are your daily activities or habits you incorporate in your day to make sure you start and finish your day with peak-performance? What do peak performers do? They get up a bit earlier than everyone else. They read for personal development as well as for pleasure. They exercise, eat right, meditate or pray, journal their thoughts, aspirations, strengths, weaknesses, plans to improve, and ahh ha moments. They listen to podcasts before listening to music in the car. Music can be just as therapeutic and important in your routine. It sure makes it easier to clean the house! I have a cheat sheet for jotting down some ideas you may have to design your morning and or evening rituals. Remember if you want to develop new habits you will have to fight the urge to stop for a good month before they truly start to form a real habit.
3. Power Hour or Jam Sessions:
· Use the Jam session handout to plan your top 3 priorities or projects that need to be done each day. What is the objective. What is it that you need to get accomplished? What resources do you need handy so that when you start your jam session you are ready to go? Use one sheet for each jam session. De.pending on your day you may have a total of 2 or 3 jam sessions
· A jam session is 90 minutes of uninterrupted time. No phones, no answering emails. Let co-workers know unless it is an emergency, please do not contact you during your jam session. If you need to put out an email or share your calendar with the days and times of your jam sessions and let everyone know the ground rules of a jam session. Let everyone know that you will get back to them once your 90 minutes are up. If you work from home and work in a closed room or office you may want to create a sign for your door “Jam In Session” or something to let your co-workers or family know this is undisturbed time. Make sure you take care of all the little things you need to do before you go into a jam session so you decrease the reasons you may get interrupted. This means turning off your phone or silencing it, not responding to emails, do not take work calls unless it is an emergency. Whatever tends to suck your attention make sure you take care of it for 90 minutes.
· Implementing this technique alone will increase your productivity. You will be amazed at what you can get done in an hour and half of solid work. I often find myself getting done with a task or project ahead of time because I am not multi-tasking trying to get multiple things done at the same time.
4. Rest and Recovery:
One part of ultimate productivity is recovery. The trainings we have attended look at an average of about 2-1/2 hours per week of pure down time with an ideal of 45 minutes per day. Down time means whatever you do to recharge your battery. For some people it may be curling up with a good book. Some may binge on their favorite TV series or watch a movie. For others it may be a run or some other sport activity. Yet for others it may be getting together with friends and spending time winding down together. Intense focus or brain drain as I call it, can be just as exhausting as physical work. Your brain requires energy just as your muscles do. Burning the midnight oil and avoiding the recovery you need will only lead to poor productivity and yielding not your best work. Make sure you are scheduling some breaks in between your jam sessions to wind down and allow yourself to shift gears and to take care of the essentials before your next jam session.
5. The Myth of Multi-tasking:
The most disappointing thing I have learned on my quest to learn the art of increased productivity is being taught by multiple mentors that multi-tasking is not a good thing. In a training class with Darren Hardy called Insane Productivity (highly recommend for those wanting to take their productivity to another level) www.darrenhardy.com
Darren mentioned a statistic quoted by James Johnston, research psychologist for NASA that “when you multi-task it is inevitable that each individual task will be slower and of lower quality.” 28% of productive focus is wasted on multi-tasking. For you non-believers this part of the training put it into perspective: You can physically and mentally multi-task, run, listen, drive, talk, etc. but you cannot use your same part of you brain at the same time and be able to focus. For example, you cannot focus on a task at hand when you are listening to a conference call and checking your email at the same time. Trying to do two things at one time such as running and listening will actually just be one thing running while listening. While you are checking email during a conference call your brain has to check out of the call while you check the email as you focus on what you are reading. We were given the challenge to stop multi-tasking for 1 week and review the results. Try it! We can’t manage time. We all have the same amount of minutes and hours per day as everyone else. Time moves with or without us. We can’t manage it or get it back or slow it down. We can become more efficient and give us more time to do the things that are important for us to do beyond our work.
6. Can we achieve Balance:
Is there such thing as a work life balance? This was another myth that burst my bubble. If you think that getting everything done you need to get done, and have every day the same with everyone getting the right amount of your time and attention you will make yourself crazy trying. If you think you can get the right amount of leisure or family time every week it doesn’t happen and they you feel frustrated and feel like a failure when you can’t achieve the coveted “Work Life Balance”. The balance does come and is possible but sometimes things need to be out of proportion to achieve the balance. For example, you and your partner are not seeing much of each other this week because you have a project at work with a deadline by the end of the week. Next comes the balance. So, to “balance” out the disproportion maybe you schedule a long weekend with your spouse and family and do something special so everyone can feel good about the sacrifices they made during the week. Thinking ahead and setting your priorities each week in every area of your life, balance can be achieved.
To help you organize your new skills and habits I have created some “cheat sheets” to help you as you start some new habits and create some new skills. To receive the cheat sheets via email please click here. If you are already receiving our emails and newsletters you will automatically receive these work sheets. I have one other resource I feel important to share and that is a book written by another mentor of mine Susan Sly. She wrote the book “The Have It All Woman”. You can learn more about her book and Susan at www.susansly.com
Before I go, I wanted to address another question from the live video we did early in the week on the subject of productivity. During this season where we are facing what we are told is a new normal how do we reach out to our friends and maintain the relationships while spending more time at home. Here are a few suggestions:
· Schedule Zoom get togethers. Zoom is a video conferencing tool that is free for as many people that you want for up to 40 minutes before the free version will stop your zoom. It is very easy to use and 20 people at a time can see each other on the screen if you are using a desk top. Not as many can see each other if using a phone or tablet. Great way to see each other and catch up. We often do family weekly zooms to keep up with what is going on and stay in touch. www.zoom.us
· There is skype, Facebook messenger, Facebook rooms, Facetime on iPhones and other apps that you can use to video conference. There are tons of game apps for your phone out there that are free that you can play cards with your friends, one we have used is Trickster.
· Get creative. I have seen virtual “Happy Hours” virtual “Game Nights”. The important thing is to stay connected with the people that are important to you!
Thanks for taking the time to visit us today and as always, our goal is to bring you value and save you time and money throughout your every day life!