We all have 24 hours in a day, but how are some people so much more productive than others and seem to effortlessly get things done?
Over the years I have fine tuned my productivity and planning skills, and I wanted to share with you this process which really helps me make the most of my time.
To make change, and work at optimum productivity, you need to devise a plan; but before you can plan, you need to understand where you are at, and what hours you have to make the most out of.
PART 1: 360 DEGREE ASSESSMENT
Let’s start by carrying out a 360 degree assessment of your day, and establish what you have to work with!
Look at your calendar and calculate your possible working hours. Make sure to carry out this exercise realistically, and be conservative when allocating time. I’ve attempted this exercise many times, and I always overestimate the amount of time I have to actually “work” and underestimated how long projects take.
Now figure out where you’re losing time…
Most people have plenty of dead hours in their day; be it spent procrastinating, checking social media, watching your favorite TV shows. You know the average person spends 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on their phone, add binge watching Netflix 2-3 hours a night… That’s plenty of time which could be used far more productively. And if you cut the mindless social media scrolling, there still could be time for a little Netflix unwinding at the end of the day. 😉
Can you delegate any tasks? Can you outsource household tasks to free up time in your busy schedule? How about using PrimeNow for cutting out those trips to the store? InstaCart is a similar time-saving option. Do a cost benefit analysis to determine.
Could you do with an extra pair of hands in your business? There are some amazing Virtual Assistants out there who are very reasonably priced and could be a real asset from a time management perspective.
Learn To Say NO- Do you have a tendency to overcommit then feel terrible for cancelling, or simply like you spend your days running around completely frazzled? There’s a real benefit to saying no! Saying no is not unkind, selfish or hurtful, and remember, you’re saying NO so that you can say YES to better things.
PART 2: PRIORITIZING
Prioritize- People really struggle with prioritizing and leave important urgent items to the end of the day. Prioritizing is a skill. Start by considering…
To determine your priorities and urgency of your tasks, I am a massive fan of using the Eisenhower Matrix, (so was Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) and if it was good enough for him….
I have adapted his system over the years for use in work and life.
Grab a piece of paper and divide it into 4 quadrants.
Draw the quadrants and list of all your tasks into the appropriate section:
Now you’ve successfully prioritized, the next step is planning your schedule and adding to your online calendar.
PART 3: PLANNING
Planning ahead is crucial to increasing productivity and managing time. I love the quote “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
With planning, you remove any feelings of overwhelm; you remove the opportunity for procrastination, and breakdown tasks into more manageable chunks. One of my favorite methods adopted in the context of weekly planning is time-blocking.
Time blocking is simply scheduling time for things you want to get done, one task at a time, in a given 2-3 hour window.
With time blocking, you choose just one thing to do in a time frame.
For example: 9:00 – 11:00 – work on client project.
In that timeframe, there’s no checking emails, social media, doing that bit of admin work, making cups of coffee etc.You commit to carrying out the work you have committed to doing in that allocated time frame.
Keep email closed and only check at certain times. Now plan out your week meticulously. Have a calendar for WORK, WORKOUTS, SOCIAL, and MEALS. Get strict with yourself, and after a few weeks of following these routines it will become second nature.
PART 4: Social Relationships & Self Care is Crucial to Your Happiness
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor emphasizes how important it is to get social, and make time for yourself.
With that in mind, my final task for you is to; once a day, every day for a month, get into the habit of sending a voice note to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. 2 minutes of just saying “hello” to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while will work wonders for your happiness, and I promise they’ll be delighted to hear from you.