Dec 152011

How to maximize your productivity

If you were given $86,400 and told you had to spend it today or lose it, the chances are you would spend it all on things you wanted.  However, translate that $86,400 into seconds (that equates to the number of seconds in a day) and the chances are that you either spend a lot of those seconds doing stuff you don’t want to do or you waste them by not doing anything at all.

One of the best things to do to take charge of time is to make a default diary for yourself or your business.  First of all, list out all the things that need doing over a week.  Then, starting with a blank calendar, fill in the working week in blocks of time that you will do those tasks.

Think carefully about when you will do certain things.  For example, if you’re an early riser and get to your desk before business hours then plan to do stuff that doesn’t need you to talk to other businesses or clients; that way you will be able to maximize the working day to stuff that needs to be done between 9am and 5pm.  When you’re starting a new business the last thing you should be doing is wasting valuable work hours doing things that aren’t bringing in sales.

Alternatively, if there’s something that you hate doing then plan that in for the start of the day.  By doing it first you will then feel better about the rest of the day.

Another part of your default diary should be your use of technology.  Turn off your email alert and only check emails at specific times of day such as 0745, 1145 and 1645.  Then, have time allocated in the diary to deal with them.  Similarly, stay away from the Web; it may be a great tool but it has the ability to shift time.

Dealing with people can be a difficult one to plan in; employees will turn up with all sorts of problems at random times and customers will also use the most inopportune moment to try and push you of track.  In both cases there are two ways to deal with interruptions.  The first is to listen to the issue/request and then tell the individual that you now have the details and will deal with it at a specific time.  Give them a time when they can either come back to talk or by which time you will have dealt with their issue and will get back to them (and make sure you stick to this promise).

The second thing to do is to start training your team and customers to not expect an immediate answer or action on something (unless it’s an emergency) but to know that they are not being ignored. I know that sounds odd but it works.  People don’t phone you in the middle of the night because they know you are doing something else (sleeping); if you explain that at certain times of the day/week you are busy doing other important stuff then they will start to learn and understand and fit in with your program.

If you’re going to run a good business you need time – and that means you need to control time so do yourself a favor and set up your default diary.  It works.