Busy work. That work you have to get done, but somehow seems to take over your entire day and before you know it, you've reached the end of the week and still haven't managed to make a dent on the most important task on your to do list.
Sure, this can be about priorities, but more often than not it's about working with your daily habits to make sure the important stuff is getting done consistently.
Let's look at some simple changes you can make:
One of the most inefficient ways you can go through your day is dealing with constant interruptions and reacting to other people's requests. This creates a stop, start kind day where you don't get any momentum. If instead you batch related tasks together you can have a much more productive day.
Batching is simply grouping like things together and doing them all at once. Let's look at some examples…
- Phone calls: Allocate a block of time to make and return phones calls so you can smash them out back to back. You'll find that once you're in "phone mode" you can keep pumping them out until you're done.
- Appointments: Client appointments should be batched as well. When you're in "client mode" you can stay in that high-level mode of thinking without having to change mental gears. You'll be in the zone. This applies to internal team meetings too.
- Emails: Batch your email processing time too. You know those email notifications that continually interrupt you? Turn them off. Then close your email until it's your email batch time. Then process that email inbox like a ninja. Emails will not feel like a productivity and energy drain if you use this method. Does the idea of making yourself temporarily unavailable to the world via email, scare you? No one is dying. They can wait.
2. Working at Your Best Time
We all have our best time of the day when we are most productive. It could be morning, afternoon or evening. Whichever time it is for you, schedule your important high-level thinking tasks to that time.
Perhaps you're working on a project for a client and your best time is in the morning, but you find you can't get to it because you have meetings scheduled at that time of day. Move the meetings. Block out your mornings for project work. Put this time in your calendar as an appointment with yourself!
Or perhaps your best time is about 4pm in the afternoon, but family commitments mean you're out of the office by 5pm. Try and inch the time forward to 3pm, turn off your phone, close your email and your door, and focus during that sprint time.
3. Different Focus for Each Day
You wear many hats as a business owner: Sales Manager, CEO, HR Manager, Operations Manager, to name a few. Staying focused is much easier if you are concentrating on only one "hat" at a time.
Designate a specific focus or theme for each day of your workweek.
For example, you could designate:
- Monday, Tuesday and Thursday as client appointment days
- Wednesday as your business development day and
- Friday your admin, finance and HR day.
Sounds impossible? The key is to use your calendar and block these times out on a recurring basis - use the feature in your calendar to automatically enter these blocks each week.
This is also about giving yourself permission, especially for a "work ON your business" business development day. Whoever makes your client appointments, now only makes them on your designated client days. Your business development day is scheduled in each week and that's when you finally get started on those projects you've been trying to get to for a long time. If it's not in your schedule it's unlikely to happen. Friday Admin/Staff day is when you can deal with all the admin and staff requirements.
4. Scheduling in Advance
Scheduling seems simple enough, but many don't use it to its potential. Let's say you have regular monthly client appointments, book them a year out. Make it the second Thursday of the month at 11am, simple for your client to remember as well. All the staff reviews, book them out for the year. Your quarterly management meetings, book them out for the year as well. You can apply the same to personal appointments, haircut, dentist etc. This helps save you from those shower moments, the ones where you're in the shower and suddenly remember that appointment you forgot to book.
Even if you implement just one of these changes you will have a more productive day, but to have a super productive week design your week with a different focus for each day, batch your tasks within that day based on your best work time during the day and schedule your appointments out within your designated focus days. Your business will thank you.