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At the start of the program, we looked at three ways to approach professional development. When we study all three of these, we can make breakthrough change: Mindset, Skillset, Toolkit.
One of the most important questions to answer is: “When was the last time you took time to think of how you manage time?” For many people participating in our workshops, this was the first time…in a long time!
Remember, there are 96 fifteen-minute blocks of time in a day. One of the first activities I suggest you DO do is to create your “Time Management Budget.” Do it with a piece of paper, write it on a white board, create a spreadsheet. However you’re going to do it, do it.
At the top, write down the number 96, and then start subtracting:
– other (whatever else you can bring to mind)
Now, most of the time our clients do this, they realize that one issue they are facing is that they often need 105 or even 110 of those fifteen-minute blocks to DO everything they think they need to do in a day. So, it’s now crucial that we become more effective and efficient; that we become responsible stewards of our time.
How do you do that? At the beginning of the seminar, I presented to you the 4 “real” limited resources. Time is just one of them the other three are:
Energy: You’re a morning person or an afternoon person or an evening person. You get overwhelmed or excited by deadlines. You need a lot of or a little bit of sleep. You can manage a lot in your head or you need to write things down as soon as you think of them. How you manage your MENTAL and PHYSICAL energy will immediately and significantly alter how you use your time. Later in the seminar, we discussed the importance of knowing when you’re “at your best.” The best reason I can give you for knowing (and following the directions you wrote!) when you’re at your best is so that you can manage your energy more effectively.
Focus: According to one of my mentors, Allyson Lewis (author and investment manager), our attention span is about 7 minutes long. Now, that’s not just how long we can hold our own focus, but it’s about how long we can go before we’re interrupted by someone on the desk. “Do you have a minute?” That question is NOT about time (resource #1), it IS about focus (resource #3). Oh, by the way, as you change your focus you will notice a dip or a lift in your energy. (Have you ever seen someone’s name in your email Inbox and gotten stress? Have you ever seen the caller ID on your phone and smiled ear to ear?
Ecosystem: Now, you’re remembering, is the resource that affects them ALL! Yes, if you change how you use your systems and tools, you can implement the “Focus to FInish” mindset, you will free up energy by completing more tasks and having to remember less, and you will feel (or it will seem) like you’re a better time manager. By the way, this is where it gets so interesting in the “app world.” Why? Because inventor after inventor (and, of course, investor!) gets an idea of a new TOOL that will fix her or his system. The trick is to get you to believe in it enough to change your previous behaviors.
After I showed some of the tips and techniques on how to save time using your tools, I showed you how to do just that.
How stop the “bad” habits? How do you drop those habits that actually worked to your benefit for all these years? You know, the unsustainable habits like:
- Arriving to the office an hour or so early, to work without interruptions of your coworkers.
- Staying at the office late, to work without interruptions of your coworkers.
- Logging in to your computer on the weekend or after dinner, to work without interruptions of your coworkers.
(By the way, are you catching the theme here???)
- Scheduling meetings for an hour, even though you’ll only need 45 minutes, knowing people will arrive and the meeting will start late.
- Setting reminders on your desktop calendar/task management system that you continually “Dismiss” or “Snooze.”
I’ve got good news, and better news.
Good: You don’t have to stop any of these bad habits.
Better: You simply replace them with new ones that are equal or better in value!
Where do you begin? Start with the three inventories you created during the first half of the program. For the next 5 days, focus in on that page, and I’d even suggest making “the list.” The entire inventory of what:
– you do by 10am each morning
– systems/tools/gear/technology you count on to get your work done
– brings you rest, relaxation, rejuvenation and reinvention
Those inventories are critical to the change process. For until you know what you do, you don’t know what to do differently. If you can clarify exactly what you do out of routine between the time you wake up in the morning and about 10am, you’ll have some information you can use to your advantage. If you want to be more effective, work more efficiently and act as a steward of your time, you get that inventory complete and then you decide what to:
Delete: Chances are high that you’re doing something 5 days a week that IF you only did it 3 times you’d be just fine. One client I worked with recently realized she was spending 10-15 minutes a day reviewing her “Sent Items” in her email looking for items that she had to follow up on. For 5 days, we tried an experiment:
– 3 days (Mon/Weds/Fri) she set a timer for 10 minutes and reviewed her Sent Items (as per her normal). When she came across something to follow up on, she pressed CTRL+SHIFT+K on her keyboard and typed in something like: “08/2/2011 – Jason Womack – Productivity TouchPoint video program proposal” which she organized in a “task list category” called Waiting On.
– 2 days (Tues/Thurs) she set a timer for 10 minutes and reviewed the next two weeks of her calendar. When she came across something to act on, she pressed CTRL+SHIFT+K on her keyboard and typed in something like: “Call Jason Womack 805-640-6401 re: upcoming keynote advisory session at conference” which she organized in a “task list category” called Actions.
Within one week, she had Identified more work and Developed a more up-to-date system than she had seen in years. It only took a little bit of experimentation to realize that she could use a little bit of her morning planning time differently.
Delegate: Of course here it’s a little tricky. If you’re a manager, and have someone on your team who CAN help you with different pieces of work, I’d absolutely encourage you to “Call a meeting” immediately. Sit down once a week for the next 5 weeks, and simply come up with an inventory of what you could delegate. Don’t try to delegate anything yet, simply come up with the list. Now, if you don’t have anyone to delegate to (if YOU are your own assistant!) then I’d recommend you STILL make this inventory. I did. I have a running list of things I’d ask a staff person, intern or co-worker to do, if someone said, “Jason do you need some help?”
You can, however, begin delegating immediately to your “systems.” Consider the examples I gave you of ReQall.com and using GoogleAlerts. Also, consider your own Microsoft® Outlook® Task system the ultimate personal assistant who tracks your reminders, meetings, agenda items and more. I’ve even seen people keep a digital “memo” pad on their iPhone, BlackBerry® or Droid. There, they continue to add things they need to see or think about later. You’re delegating more than actions, you’re giving the reminder to take that action to a system that can help you manage the task, the priority, the conversation and he project much more effectively over time.
One thing we didn’t get to in our program is the how to and when to PROCESS the big “bucket list” you wrote. Remember I asked you to take just 7 minutes and write down at least 50 items that you could bring to mind while we were together in the seminar. Well, one thing you’ll immediately notice is that your “thinking profile” showed up there. Did you write your list as a group of Nouns? Or Verbs? Not that one is right or wrong. One is not better than the other. People are not “normal” if they do it one way and not the other. But, there is some significant information in there. At least there was for me…
The first time I recognized a difference was when I was in a personal development seminar, as a participant, the summer that my wife and I were planning our wedding. We were sitting at a table, and had the experience I showed you…we wrote down a long list of what we were thinking. Well, I was amazed to see that after about 20 minutes (imagine if I had asked you to write for that long!) she and I had two very different lists going…mine, a long list of Nouns. Hers…verbs!
When I recognized the impact of this on productivity and performance (and, our upcoming marriage!) I knew I was on to something significant. Naturally, I think in terms of the big picture, she turns those thoughts into actions. She naturally considers the steps along the way, I easily see the finished product as if it’s already done.
Now, how about you? You need to do both, right? So, go through the notebook, and you’ll see some extra pages there toward the end. I encourage you to spend time turning your Bucket List in to actions and projects, with starting and ending points. Then, go through your email Inbox and apply the same method. Review your notebooks, and your sticky notes, get as much as you can to this level of “action.” You’ll see a difference as you practice this more and more.
I hope you got more than a few ideas from our time together. Oh, by the way, based on the questions during and via email and text message over the next day, I collected a total of 23 questions. I already funded more loans at KIVA.org, and if you’d like to join us please visit: www.OjaiKivaClub.com – you don’t have to live in Ojai to be a part of the club!
Here are some links you may want to review, as you continue pushing on this information. And, of course I’m already looking forward to reading your comments below! (Leave a question, I’ll get an answer to you ASAP…)