If you had the chance to read and implement some of the techniques I have shared with you in this blog, you are likely sitting at your desk, or on your way to the office, with a list of things to do, your MITs (Most Important Things).
You are ready to start and you know where you want to go, but you are uncertain about what to expect, or how to tackle this project you have in your hands. One thing you need to notice is that you have a limited amount of resources that you have to make the most of in order to work smarter, think bigger and make more.
To carry out any task you need time, energy, focus, and tools. Think about a regular day at work, how you manage those resources affect directly the number of tasks you will be able to complete. But any given day has only a limited number of hours, even more limited when we talk about working hours, your energy and focus need to be replenished often, and tools may have limited features, not to mention that you can efficiently operate only a handful of them.
These four elements are the basis of your productivity. That is why I suggest that you not only make the most out of them, but also maximize them in order to make more and better.
There are plenty of everyday chores that demand energy, especially if you are not completely “awake” to go through them. The first step would be to decide what the best time of the day is for you. Maybe you are an early bird and you have tons of energy when you wake up, ready to get started, but then this energy drops towards the afternoon. On the other hand, you may prefer to work at night when it’s quiet, and start your day a bit later. There are no wrong answers here, but it’s important that YOU know what your best moment is, that is, the moment of the day when you can accomplish the most.
Focus is another essential element. We must admit it, it’s almost impossible to be 100% focused on one task, or several consecutive tasks for long periods of time, not to mention for a whole eight-hour work session! In all my years of experience, I have found that people have different levels of focus: while for some people their attention span is only a few minutes, others manage to stay focused for longer periods of time. To maximize your focus, keep a timer close to you on your desk and set an initial period of 15 minutes to work on a specific task. Try not to focus on anything else during that period, then assess your results, and expand that to 30 minutes. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish with this technique! (you can also read chapter 9 of my book to learn more).
Another resource you need to maximize is tools, that is, all the systems and programs you use to do your job. There is a wide variety of applications to increase your productivity and help you work smarter and more efficiently. If you haven’t yet, make sure you do a little research on which tools might help you. You can do so by taking part in seminars and industry trade shows, or looking for information online. If you already have a number of programs installed on your computer to manage your work, try to learn as much as possible about their features to maximize the use you make of them. Ideally, you will work with no more than 3 – 4 programs. Write down the ones you have chosen on your notebook.
Time is also limited. Thousands of lyrics say so and the clock is a constant reminder of this fact. I particularly like to divide a day in chunks of 15 minutes each. This gives us a realistic idea of how fast we can run out of time, and it helps us make a better use of this resource. Are you one of the people who say, “I wish I had more time”? Then follow my advice and you will manage to maximize this precious resource.
So, how do you use your resources? Take 15 minutes right now to evaluate how you could maximize them by applying the techniques I explained for each of them.
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