Ever get frustrated at the time wasting 'stuff' you have to do and the eternal interruptions that are stopping you from getting on and completing those the half finished tasks growing longer on your To Do list ...?
As a consultant, some days it feels like everyone just wants a piece of you and there is nothing left for you. You can get so focused on what other people need that you loose sense of why you are even doing what you do. Wouldn't it be great to get out of the daily grind, become really productive and achieve more in less time?
Here's some tips I have learned from a fantastic book I recently read called "The One Thing" by Gary Keller. I am not affiliated with this book, I just loved it's simple message and fresh approach to the "time v money" conundrum we all suffer from in a service based business. You can find it on Amazon.
Here are the 4 steps:
1) Write down your goals and break them into chunks - 5 years, 1 year, 6 months, 90 days, 1 week, today.
This way you have something to aim for and you can measure your progress. Written goals, with set timeframes encourage specific action, especially if you attach them to a prominent place in your office where everyone can see them and keep you accountable?
2) Consider what you have in front of you and ask yourself, what are the things that will get me to my goals and what will take me away from my goals?
Start by giving up and saying no to anything that will divert you. It might feel great to do stuff that isn't part of the plan, but later there will be feelings of guilt and remorse "I should have been doing this or that" - people "should" all over themselves (Thanks Kurek Ashley for that one). Don't "should", instead "do"
3) Decide each day, what is the one thing, that in doing it I make everything else easier or unnecessary (Gary Keller best quote ever).
Focus on getting that done first, because it will shape the rest of your day and you will feel you have achieved more, especially when you look back over your week.
4)Block out your diary.
Especially if you work from home or in a busy office, there are so many distractions! It's so easy to think "I'll just check my emails, I'll just put that washing on, I'll just make that phone call, send that email..." and all of a sudden it's two hours later. Go to your diary now and decide what time you will block out to focus on your one thing each day. Gary in his book gave an example of a writer clearing a laptop of everything but the word processing program, booking a room in the office for a meeting with himself, making sure everyone knew he was unavailable for calls and interruptions. He achieved more than he ever imagined in far less time.
Since reading this book I have begun by saying no to stuff I "can do" but shouldn't be doing and started focusing on the goals I have set and the tasks and activities that will take me closer to them.
I do my exercise early, grab a smoothy and settle in to my desk with a cuppa to start work at 7am with a end time of 11am. During this time I work on the one thing I want to achieve that day/week/month. Email is off, Facebook is off, Phone is off. It's like working in the 80's before we had all this disruptive technology!
I am amazed mostly at the clear headed approach I now have, the focus and ability to really explore the ONE THING I am doing rather than rushing through it to get to the next task. And the lack of guilt at the end of the day that "yet again, I didn't get round to that thing I really 'should' have achieved".
And yes, there have already been days when this plan goes completely out the window - sickness and doctors urgent appointment, equipment failure and the school holidays have made it tricky. If a day went by that I didn't get to focus on the one thing, I just started again with my focus the next day. Life, after all, is going to happen! It might temporarily divert me, but I don't let it derail me.
At least now, I know, my work associates know and my family knows, during the hours I work, they are not going to get much of an answer from me on anything else. Once I have completed that time, I am all theres. In fact, as I work from home, I have put a note on the fridge with my work hours and the things I will and won't be doing anymore - went down like a cup of cold sick, but at least everyone will pull their weight (and I will stop being such a control freak perfectionist about what we have for dinner!).
So what is the one thing that you could focus on to make sure you use your time wisely and achieve those goals more quickly?
What could you achieve if you blocked out a set time each day or week to complete a task that will take you closer to that goal. What 'stuff' are you doing that you can start saying no to so you can become more productive?
This could work for any goal of course, from fitting in more exercise, writing a novel, completing a project, running a webinar, recording instruction videos or learning a new skill.
Let me know how you go!