Solution: Use a Planning Tool Daily
In order to create a successful day, you must plan and prepare for one. Imagine getting into your car and driving without a defined destination. How would you know when you have arrived? Sounds pretty silly, doesn't it? However we often start our day without a clear destination or plan of what needs to be done. How often have you started your work day with whatever projects that are currently on your desk or spent the day reacting to so called emergencies from an email, employee or memo and ended your day not accomplishing what really needed to be done? So you leave the office annoyed, stressed and feeling very unproductive. If you do not plan your day, this vicious cycle will continue. You must utilize a planning tool: a calendar, notebook, electronic hand held device, or blackberry. It doesn't matter the planning tool used, what matters more importantly is the use of one tool to document your appointments, meetings, tasks and deadlines. You must plan your day the night before or make it your first task every morning. Once you began to create a daily map of your tasks, you will begin to create a successful day and discover the art of productivity and you will have the habit of planning your day.
Solution: Attend Meetings That Are Mandatory
Attending many meetings is a waste of time, especially if you are not required to be present. Some people attend meetings because it fills space during their day and it makes them feel busy and others utilize meetings to socialize. Unless your presence is required or there is no other way of getting the minutes from the meeting from another source, do not attend. If you are required to attend a meeting or you are the meeting creator, use the following tips to make meetings productive and less time consuming. Always have a beginning and ending time for all meetings. Start the meeting at the assigned time even if everyone is not there on time. You will begin to teach late arrivals to arrive on time for your meetings when they are requested to attend. Always have an agenda and do not derailed from the agenda's topics. It is best to pass out the agenda to attendees prior to the meeting to give them time to jot down any comments or input so that they come to the meeting prepared to participate. Assign an attendee or appoint someone to take accurate notes throughout the meeting, and distribute the meeting notes within 3 days of the meeting. Always include in the notes, any assignments or tasks that were assigned in the meeting accompanied with the name and contact information of the person who will be responsible for completing the tasks, as well as completion date deadlines for all tasks. Reduce the amount of time spent in meetings and utilize that time to complete important tasks.
Solution: Create An Uninterrupted Office Time Policy
Thirty minutes of focused uninterrupted time is far more productive that than two hours of interrupted time and focus. You must schedule time in your day that you absolutely can not be disrupted. This time is for you to be fully present to work on the task at hand. If you are writing a book, creating a presentation or completing a project, you will need time for your creativity to flow without being distracted. Creativity increases with focus. It doesn't have to be long periods of time; it just needs to be consistent. To develop this habit, try to block 15 minutes to 1 hour in your schedule, depending upon the task at hand, set a timer and get to work. During your "do not disturb" time, take a deep breath, meditate or review your challenges and wins for the day, regain focus on what it is that you need to accomplish to make your day successful. Use this time as a planning period or schedule this time in the morning to complete your most difficult tasks first. How you use this time is totally your decision, just make sure to schedule consistent uninterrupted time to increase your productivity, allow creativity and develop clarity.
Solution: Schedule Time to Check Correspondences
Emails, telephone calls, voice mails, & text messages are all time wasters when you become a slave to their intrusions. Although you love responding to everyone, it takes time away from important tasks. Develop a system to receiving and responding to all communications. Morning, afternoons and one hour before ending your day are excellent times to check and respond to all emails, voicemails, etc. Create autoresponders for your email messages, letting everyone know that you will read and reply (if required) during the time that you have allocated to check messages or within 2 to 3 business days. Leave a clear concise voice mail message greeting explaining to your callers your schedule and the time that you will return telephone calls or any other directives they may take if they can't reach you. For example, if you find that your customers tend to have similar questions, leave a voice mail message referring them to your webpage with a list of the most frequently asked questions and answers. Let everyone know when you are expected to respond and follow through with your promises.