You Need A ScheduleEveryone is busy. Our society essentially breeds us to want to constantly be busy. Everyone has the same 24 hours every day to get things done. It’s good to keep that in mind if you have the habit of thinking that your situation is different from anyone else’s. The successful folks who manage it all while still looking effortless have one of two things: a personal assistant or a schedule, and the former uses schedules. When it comes to scheduling all the things that are on your daily or weekly to-do list, writing down the master list of things that you want to accomplish is the absolutely mission-critical first step. I write things down for a couple of reasons. First of all, until I go through the motions of spelling out and documenting a task, it isn’t concrete in my mind. Is this a mental thing? Absolutely, but you have to do what works. Second, it’s easier to grasp how much you have to do when the visual is there to go with your thought processes. Get it all down on paper, figure out how much time each task is going to take you, and then assign an urgency. It’s about scheduling the time to complete the tasks and enforcing those time periods.
Keep Your Goals RealisticIt is critical that you write down how much time you actually spend on each of your tasks. Set yourself up for success not for failure. Don’t under-estimating how time much you truly spend on the things that you do regularly. For example, let’s say you spend 4 hours per day reading and replying to email. Even if you find that number shocking, don’t schedule only 2 hours per day to work on email. Forcing yourself into a smaller time block will increase stress and pressure. You’re likely to end up running over into other time blocks. What about travel? Your travel time is 60 minutes of actual driving. However, you also take time to get back and forth to your car, start up or shut down your work area, chit-chat with other employees, etc… You must include this time in your schedule. Being realistic about the many things that take up time every day is the hardest part for most people. We find it difficult to believe that out of an 8 or 10-hour work day, much of that time is spent NOT working. So we tend to mentally block out the things that are not productive. Here is the thing to remember, though: Whether you are being productive or not, the clock is still ticking. You might be amazed at how much time you spend each day NOT accomplishing the tasks that are in front of you.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…Scheduling your time and being realistic is only the beginning. Realizing that you have many things to do every day and that you could clean up your productivity habits, is not enough to effect change. You have to “stick to your guns” and follow through on whatever plans you come up. It’s necessary to be consistent in order to increase your productivity. Do you want to beat the traffic rush by leaving 30 minutes early each day? Only doing so occasionally won’t net you any serious amount of additional time over the long-run. You’ve got to commit to doing it every day. Avoiding chatty co-workers in the break room one day, but carrying on a 20-minute conversation with them the next? That’s only going to serve to cancel out your efforts. Do you want to avoid home-based distractions during the work week? It won’t work if you only stay the course on Monday and Tuesday.
Keep Productivity SimpleIt doesn’t matter what your systems look like as long as you follow those three success secrets: Schedule your time. Be realistic about what you have to do each day and how long it takes. Stick to a good plan of action to start increasing your productivity.
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