Does your need to find the best solution ever slow down your productivity? As you seek the easiest or fastest route to your goal, you may find yourself stopped entirely. Sometimes you may even do this on purpose, to keep from having to make a decision.
Try these ideas to increase your productivity:
Choose the right time. Nearly everyone has times of the day when they are most effective and times when they tend to drag. It’s smart to schedule the most critical tasks for your most effective time of the day. Note the times of day that you can focus on tasks. For example, maybe you like emailing clients in the morning and meeting with them in the afternoon. Perhaps it’s the other way around. Be sure to learn how your energy works and plan your day around your natural rhythms when possible.
Toss it. If a task doesn't really need to be done, just get rid of it altogether. You have plenty of other things to do.
Get the bad stuff out of the way. Do the unpleasant items quickly and as early in the day as possible. Have you ever noticed that thinking about something you don’t want to do is worse than actually doing it? We build it up in our minds and then create more and more resistance around it. Do the hard stuff first and get it over with. You will feel so much better and be able to focus on your other tasks without this dreaded item weighing you down.
Set goals each day (or night). In the morning, decide what you want to accomplish that day. This can be even more effective when planned the night before. Once you have a sense of direction, you can spend all your time getting things done!
You may want to consider an A list, B list and C list with A being the items you must accomplish today. Stretch yourself with your goals but not to the point where you feel like a failure if you don’t get everything done. What are the top 3 things you absolutely must do today? Great! Put everything else on your B or C list.
Eliminate all communication. While you're working, turn off the phone/cell phone, and don't check your email. Hang a sign that says, "Do not disturb," if necessary. You don't have to do this for all your tasks, but at least do it during the more difficult items that require your full attention.
Batch similar tasks together. Do all your emailing at one time. Make all your phone calls at another. Open your snail mail during a set block of time. You'll waste less time by doing your work in this fashion.
Set a timer. Even if a task might take hours, starting will seem easier if you simply give yourself 30 minutes to get as much done as you can. A time limit seems to help many people concentrate and work better, too. Usually, once you get going, you will want to keep going. That first step can be a doozy though. Do whatever it takes to start. Set a deadline. Coffee, a walk, listening to some music or visiting with a colleague can be your reward for getting it done.
Set targets. For example, if you have to make cold-calls for your sales job, tell yourself that you're not getting up for any reason until you've made at least 100 calls. Regardless of what happens, refuse to stop until you hit your target.
Use the Pareto Principle. This principle states that 20% of the actions you could take will provide you with 80% of the benefits. So focus on the tasks that will accomplish the most. Unfortunately, these are frequently the tasks that are not enjoyable. You might be surprised how little you really have to do if you focus on the critical 20%.
Delegate some of your work. Is there anyone else who can help you? The people around you are resources. When appropriate, use their time and talents wisely to get things done more quickly. There may be tasks that you can’t stand doing but your colleague loves doing. See if you can set up an exchange. You will proofread his/her documents if he/she can help you improve your PowerPoint presentation.
Set a deadline. Having a specific endpoint will help you focus your time and energy. You may want to consider giving yourself advanced deadlines, that is, make sure you are finished at least 2-3 days before the actual deadline if possible so that you will have time to review before you submit your work. You’ve got this! Remember, if a task doesn't feel necessary, it may or may not get done.
Increase your speed. It sounds silly, but this can really help. Try doing everything a little faster. Walk faster, talk faster, type faster, and read faster. Creating your own processes and procedures can help you be more efficient too. Call clients, take notes and then enter all the information into the system rather than after each client. See what works for you and your situation. Having a process can be extremely helpful especially if you are doing repetitive work so that you don’t miss a step.
Implement these strategies into your life and you'll find yourself getting more done in less time. The ultimate secret is to stay on task and not waste any time. These rules will help you do just that.