Practical Suggestions to Create Time To Pursue Your Interests & Increase Productivity.
Little Mo – Many business experts and consultants stress the big picture or big task/project. Rightfully so, if we don’t accomplish the big things the smaller one usually won’t matter. Because larger scale projects require more thinking and pondering, you can find yourself stuck by over analyzing. What works for me is to tackle a series of small tasks first. The momentum and sense of accomplishment is something I build on. It clears my head, readying me for the larger tasks at hand.
Touch it – Do it. Too often we handle a document, review it, only to deal with it later. A waste, you’ve invested time in it, complete it now; otherwise, you will re-read / re-review it when you actually deal with it. Live by the Touch it Once rule!
Email, a huge consumer of our time, is a great place to implement this concept. When you open an email, deal with it, if possible. Even if you need to check another document, email etc. for the answer, you will save time, gain momentum and clear your mind to focus on the next. Only flag the emails that absolutely need input or careful consideration. Read, act, then go on.
Shorten and reduce meetings – We have way too many meetings, wasting the collective time of all the attendees. First, invite only critical persons, too often people are in meetings with nothing constructive to add or learn. (I am fan though of including, at times, junior staff/interns, as a learning experience) Many meetings are just plain unnecessary. Use email/phone/ or video conferencing if truly necessary.
Don’t let attendees get too comfortable. Do away with the coffee and donuts, I like standing meetings. Get to the point and get to work. Shorten meetings, use a timer and let people know you are.
Strategy meetings require ‘homework’ beforehand to be productive. Demand that participants come prepared otherwise you and the others are wasting valuable time.
T.V. As if we didn’t already know this sorrowful fact, we watch way too much TV, wasting hours to the detriment of our goals and pursuits.
I confess to being an ex-news junkie but the news rarely changes during the day. The networks just spin it a bit differently. Rarely is there a REAL developing story that compels us to watch. I am not talking about the endless babble about a storm that is days away yet is covered from every minute angle. Pick a news broadcast you like and give it no more than an hour a day.
We are all connected in some way during the day, if there is something you need to know, you can be sure you will know it. Being an hour or three behind the story will not change a thing. TV news once a day, should give what you need, watching 2- 3 times a day is just regurgitation, even during a crisis
A TV pet peeve is the time spent on the weather. Broadcasts start with a tease and continue, giving a ridiculous amount of detail. I couldn’t care less about Doppler pictures and temperature readings in 30 different places. All you need is what the highs and lows of the day are and if sunny, cloudy or precipitation expected. You can get all this on your phone, web, or in seconds on the weather channel.
Use commute time productively – We spend a lot of time commuting and if we use that time on something like reading a book we want to, studying something we have an interest in, listening to an audio book if we are driving, or the news and weather so we don’t have to waste time watching it on tv!
Bank on Line – I realize there is some trepidation about this subject but clearly it is as safe as any other means we use to pay bills. You can set up your regular payments and forget about them. Schedule your payments to vendors who accept payments via ACH for the last due date. No need to address envelopes and buy stamps. You will also have an easy organized place to check your payment histories. I also advocate receiving bills on line. Schedule for payment and then save them into a folder, dramatically reducing the handling time.
Reading material – Slim it down, we are inundated with reading materials concerning the field we work in. Depending on the area of expertise, condense the publications/materials you read. Most times they are all a version of each other. Find the one that covers the bases and stop wasting time on others. A great example are newspapers, there really is no need to ready two or three papers a day.
This said with an eye towards the flood of sources we now draw from (web, mobil, tv, radio, print…)
DVR – Instant time saver -get a DVR, 30%, yes 30%, of each hour is devoted commercials. Record a show, fast forward thru them and ‘pocket’ the time! An easy way to pick up time.
Don t make your schedule based upon TV programming! Use your ‘prime time’ to pursue your hobbies and interests. If you choose, you can watch your ‘DVR-commercial free’ later (in place of the news and weather you already know!)
Lunch hour – we all need to be refreshed but we can use our lunch time to pursue an interest we have or to get a bit exercise (freeing up time we wd use later in the day)