1. Spend a week keeping a time diary.
Use a calendar or diary to record time spent on conversations, projects and activities (work and non-work related) for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day or not getting done and where your precious time is going. You’ll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.
2. Make appointments with yourself.
When I first heard of this, I didn’t make sense of it at all. But then it made sense.
Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable, then you’re pulling your hair out wondering why you didn’t get things done.
Schedule appointments with yourself and create blocks of time for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions.
Schedule when they will begin and end. This is a tough one because you must have the discipline to keep these appointments.
3. Engage in the thoughts, activities and conversations.
Plan to spend at least 50 per cent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results. After all, the correct result is what we all want, whatever that may be.
4. Schedule time for interruptions.
Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing. Take, for instance, the concept of having “office hours.” Isn’t “office hours” another way of saying “planned interruptions?”
5. Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day.
Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time. How will you know what you’re going to do? What’s that old saying? Failing to plan is planning to fail.
6. Decide what result you want to attain.
Take five minutes before every task to define your goal. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what’s missing in your next call or activity?
7. Let the world know that you are busy.
Put up a “Do not disturb” sign on your door, do not even switch on your email doesn’t matter if it’s a desktop app, a phone app or web-based. Set your phone to “do not disturb” when you absolutely have to get work done.
8. Don’t instantly give people your attention.
Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls.
9. Block out other distractions.
This is a difficult one for me at the moment because as I am typing this, they’re building a house next door. But you need to block Facebook, Instagram and whatever form of social media that tends to suck away your time and attention. We all need to find a way to do that. What seems to work for me at the moment is a classic rock radio station. Helps drown out the drilling, mixing, grinding sounds from the new build.
10 Set realistic goals.
Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 per cent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 per cent of your results.