1. Eat the worm – Do the thing you don’t want to do first.
When you think about the things you have to do today, what tasks are there that you find yourself already drained just thinking about them – Cold calling potential customers; Addressing an employee issue; Completing that detailed proposal? We all have things that we don’t like to do. Often those same things are very important to our business. By putting these things off we set ourselves up to spend the day being distracted and worried about what we have to do. Clear your head and get those things done first.
2. SSSSHHHHHHHHH – Quiet please (well at least for an hour or two).
Schedule a set time for you and your office staff to have “Quiet Time” – a time when no emails are checked, no phones are answered, there are not interruptions, and everyone stays at their desks and focuses on getting work done. It’s best to set this up early, near work start before people get pre-occupied or challenged with unexpected issues. At first some people will complain, but stick to this process and you will be amazed at how much you get done in that “Quiet Time” hour or two.
3. Breath – Take a break every 90 minutes or at least switch projects.
Have you ever dazed out while working away on your computer? Have you ever hit that mental muck where it seems longer for you to process information? Actually with most of us it occurs about every 90 minutes or so spent focusing. Don’t try to press through this – it will take you twice as long to finish your task. Take a few minutes to clear your head with a break or at a least switch over to another project or task. It is shocking how much faster you can work when you keep yourself mentally refreshed.
4. Clear the Decks err I mean Desk – Clear your desk and plan tomorrow, today.
Work is not a race. Do not work all the way up until it is time for you to leave, simply stop and leave. This guarantees that tomorrow morning you will not be as efficient as you could be. Schedule a minimum of 15 minutes prior to the end of your work each day so that you can clean and straighten your desk as well as plan your tasks for tomorrow. This will allow you to hit the ground running in the morning when you return to work. It also will help you clear your mind the rest of the evening so that you can rest and be better prepared for tomorrow.
5. Don’t watch it; Stop Watch it – Know how much time things take.
How much time do you spend doing email each day? On average how long does a typical phone call last? Do you know how long repeating tasks take you to do each day? Setup a clock in your office so that you can mentally take notes on how long repetitive tasks take you to complete. Also ask yourself if these tasks are really necessary. You can track your daily activity using the Daily Activity Tracking Worksheet. When you understand how much time you are spending and where, you will have the opportunity to find ways to do things faster or even to figure out how to not have to do those things at all.