roductivity is measured by results; however, if something always seems to get in the way of you being effective, the following may be helpful.
For most of us, routine tasks become obstacles without even knowing it. By streamlining your tasks and setting priorities, you can better manage your time, thus increasing your effectiveness and productivity.
Prioritize Your Day
A to-do list is great, but too often we have more to do than we have time to complete the list in a day. Tasks get delayed, dropped, or add pressure to finish when it is not necessary. Even though you may have a thousand and one things you want to do each day, the reality is you need to complete some tasks, while many other tasks can be delayed. What you need to do is identify those items that require your immediate attention. These should represent your to-do list for that day. By selecting the significant tasks, that is, the need to do and the immediately need to do with realistic time frames for completion of each will start you on the path to effective time management.
At the end of each day evaluate your list, did you complete each task in the time estimated? If more time was required note that for future use, if less time was required, note that as well. If some tasks were not completed, or even started, note this, too, and add them to the next days to-do list. Finally, draft tomorrows task list before you leave the office.
By following this simple procedure, while maintaining a consistent pattern of setting realistic task lists and monitoring your completion rates and time, you will find you will begin to accomplish more, reduce your feelings of inadequacy, and improve your productivity.
Have Stated Objectives for Meetings
To often we go into meetings with employees and clients with no agenda or clearly understood expectations. Before a meeting, identify the purpose of the meeting, points you want discussed, and the result or results you expect to achieve. Write all this down and take your written notes with you into the meeting. As each objective is achieved mark it on your outline. Any changes, modifications, or lack of action should be identified, as well.
Avoid wasting time by starting to list your expectations in order of importance. This will save time and enhance your ability to quickly reach consensus of your key objectives.
Take Time for Yourself
As successful business people, we are typically workaholics; however, to maintain your focus and creativity, you need to step back and give yourself time to re-energize. This means get out of the office, for brief periods of time, and go for a walk. Use such moments to think about something other than your business or work. You will be surprised how often business solutions will pop into your head during these times of reflection. The added bonus is your body will benefit from the reduced pressure and the exercise will do you good.
Have Established Answers for Frequently Asked Questions
When frequently asked the same question by either employees or customers, take note of it and draft a simple, understandable answer that can be used as the standard response. Or, if possible, just come up with a quick answer that can be shared with staff as company policy. Either way, this will avoid having to deal with the same issue directly every time it is raised. This has the further advantage of allowing you to save time for more important issues.
The exception to this approach is when the question identifies a potential or urgent problem. Then, of course, you need to resolve the problem.
A Clean Desk is an Efficient Workplace
I saved my favorite time management tip for last. Stay ahead of your tasks by organizing your desktop, keeping files neat and orderly in designated cabinets, and place on your desk just one task or project at a time. Computers have simplified this with the ability to store large amounts of data by various categories or tasks. Take advantage of the software available to organize your business records, letters, memos, reports, accounts, and projects. Make hard copies of those items that are essential and use a back-up software program for all critical aspects of your work.
Develop a schedule for routine tasks, such as, signing checks, returning phone calls, and answering mail. Set aside specific times of the day to perform these tasks. Make sure others, in your office, know you are not to be disturbed during these times.