Tackle the Time Killers
Now that we’ve talked about the top ten impediments to our productivity let’s talk about some ways to manage these time killers:
- Take vacations/cut back on weekend work -- The time we spend alone allows the brain and the body to regroup; it shuts down the outside noise we hear constantly. That helps us to recharge our batteries and allows the brain to be more creative, to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems. So, that twist in the storyline that you wanted to introduce but couldn’t figure out how just might present itself when you’re watering your garden or taking a shower.
- Clear clutter and file documents immediately – this is a major weak spot for me. At one point I had three kids at three different schools so I got three copies of the same pieces of paper every week. It drove me nuts! Mail is another area where we can put some guidelines in place to help ourselves get organized.
- Make it a rule to never touch the same piece of paper twice – if it’s an actionable item, act on it or get it onto your list of things to do immediately; if it’s not an actionable item but you need the information, file it, scan it into your computer, or add it to your calendar immediately; otherwise, you probably don’t need it – throw it away.
- Never bring the mail into the house. Stand at the garbage can outside and immediately toss the junk mail. Open the envelopes, remove the items you need, and toss the rest.
- Do not multitask – contrary to popular belief there really is no such thing as multitasking. The brain can process a lot of information very quickly but the body is a lot slower to respond to commands. So, even though we may be doing two things at one time it is unlikely that we’re doing both of them as well or as fast as we could if we concentrated on one at a time.
- No telephone calls during meetings – I’d actually extend this guideline to no telephone calls while working on any project. There’s a reason we have voicemail. We can put the telephone on mute and let people leave messages. That way we can concentrate on the work at hand and get finished that much more quickly and efficiently.
- Limit Internet time to after business hours – and that goes for those of us who are working from home or work odd hours as well. Our business hours may not be 9 to 5 but we still have business hours. We have to treat our work time with even more respect than we do or did our day jobs. If we’re working on our writing or building a business from 9 pm until 11 pm each night, those are no Internet times with the exception of research we may be doing for our projects. And, we have to make every effort not to give into the temptation to check Facebook or Twitter unless that time has been set aside for marketing.
- Check e-mail/voicemail only three times a day (morning, mid-day, and evening) – And, as we get busier with our projects we probably need to whittle that down to twice or once a day. There’s no need for us to constantly check e-mail. If there’s something really urgent that needs to be addressed, believe me, someone will get in touch.
- Make lists of tasks to be completed with deadlines – making lists may sound cliché but it’s a very helpful took for getting ourselves organized. Planning ahead, contrary to belief, does not have to lead to a rigid, inflexible approach to our work. It actually can free us up to address sudden changes more efficiently. Planning ahead allows us to gather our thoughts, to feel more in control of our work, and to get everything done more effectively and efficiently. Also, when we write down a list of things to do we are more likely to actually do most or all of the items on our list, maybe because there is a sense of accomplishment when we can scratch through the items on our lists.
- Don’t overcommit and learn to say no - These two kind of go together and they’re easier said than done. I know it’s really hard to tell the co-worker, boss, relative, that you can’t or won’t do something they want you to do. It’s an uncomfortable feeling to let people down and I don’t recommend doing it all the time; however, there are times when we really do need to say no and not agree to things that we legitimately don’t have time to do. And, believe it or not, it’s okay to not want to do something and to say so.
So, by now you’re probably thinking to yourself, ok Michele, you’ve given me this great list of things but how do I actually implement this new, organized, productive way of life?
Now that you understand how to tackle the major time killers, next week's installment will dive into practical strategies to help you manage your time more effectively.
P.S. Time management is only a single piece of the puzzle to reach your goals. If you'd like to get started with the Write Your Magic Program, you don't have to wait for the rest of this course to do it Register Now.
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