More than ever, being productive depends on focusing on the important things and minimising the distractions which inevitably come our way. This is the first of two articles and looks at focusing on what is important. In the second article you will discover how to deal with distractions.
A note of caution, being busy is not necessarily the same as being productive. You can run around all day doing things, but unless you are focusing on what is important, you are not going to be hitting your targets.
Here are a few thoughts on how to be more productive by focusing on what is important:
- Decide to change – it is vital that you are prepared to make changes. To become more productive you will need to change your approach. The best way is to start gradually, with a few changes at a time.
- How do you currently spend your time? – do you really know how you spend your time currently? It is a very valuable exercise to keep an Activity Time Sheet to show how your time is spent. Have a go at keeping a record of each 15 minutes and what you spend it doing. Download an Activity Time Sheet here and see where your time goes each week, you will be amazed!
- What have you got to do? – how do you keep track of all you have to do? Is it all on a neat, regularly reviewed to-do list? On an electronic calendar? On scraps of paper? In your head? It is critical to keep track of all you have to do in a place other than in your head. All the time your head is working to remember all the “to-dos”, it can’t be focusing properly on what is in front of you. How often do you sit down to concentrate, and your mind darts to other completely unrelated things that you have to do? Have one place where you write down or record everything that you have to do. This will help clear your head. There are whole training courses about to-lists and prioritising, and I don’t have the space here to go into detail. The two important steps are to record everything, and to review and clear your list regularly.
- Projects and actions – on your list there will be actions which are one-off tasks, and there will be projects. Projects are made up of a series of tasks, and when they are sitting on your to-do list they loom large and appear daunting. Projects can’t be done in one go, so record them on a different list. To effectively deal with projects the trick is to be clear about what you are aiming to do, and work out what the first step is. This step then becomes an action which you can put on your to-do list.
- Weekly review – have a weekly review and planning meeting. Go through your week and recognise what you achieved and what didn’t get done. Then take time to set your priorities for the next week, what are the three most important 3 results you want, and what do you need to do to achieve these? Put these actions on your to-do list.
Behind all of these steps are plenty of tools and techniques to make them easier. The Productive Manager Programme provides all the resources and training, managers need to get things done.
For further details of The Productive Manager Programme call Charlie Damonsing on 0771 559 6487.
This post was written by Charlie Damonsing of CLAssociates. CLAssociates specialises in helping businesses manage stress in the workplace, providing consultancy, training and 1-2-1 support. For further details please contact Charlie on 0771 559 6487.