by Bill Cole, MS, MA
Are you working longer hours but getting less done? Are you being asked to do more in less time? Beginning to feel like a hostage at work? Productivity problems can make you feel incredibly stressed–and then you’re just spinning your wheels. But there is help. You can use your mind. You can soon be winning the mental game of personal productivity. Peak-performing sales professionals work smarter, not harder. They want to achieve to the maximum in business and then go play. Here’s how you can do that too.
1. Start the day being very clear about what you want to accomplish–both personally and professionally.
2. Once a quarter, perform a time analysis on your entire week–both at home and at work.
3. Make a list of the things you should completely avoid doing today–and then don’t do them.
4. Don’t strive for perfection in everything, as perfection doesn’t matter with all tasks.
5. Sweep your mind clear of clutter before you engage your brain on a project.
6. Set boundaries and limits for yourself so you position yourself for balanced time management.
7. Schedule “real-life” personal appointments in your appointment tools in advance, and adhere to them.
8. Ask yourself, “Am I managing my time well enough to allow me freedom to enjoy life after work?”
9. At the end of the day review what you have accomplished, and compliment and reward yourself for good tasks completed.
10. Motivate yourself for good work by promising yourself exercise or a break reward once you achieve a level of excellence in a task.
11. Stay conscious of your time management choices during the day.
12. Compartmentalize your tasks so you focus on one task at a time.
13. Build up mental momentum with each successful task completed so you proudly gain energy as you go through your day.
14. Build variety into your schedule so you have interesting activities to look forward to during less exciting tasks.
15. Create positive tension and an urgency to get things done faster by having more to do than you can actually achieve–but keep your focus in the here and now.
16. Don’t classify too many things as priorities or as urgent–be selective.
17. Know what to say no to and hold to your decisions.
18. Continually ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?”
19. Visualize yourself succeeding before every task.
20. Don’t be continually reactive to your electronic tools–don’t reflexively retrieve them when they come in–collect voicemail and email at specified times to maintain uninterrupted focus.
21. Plan quiet time for thinking, planning and analyzing.
22. Create your own custom “best time management program”–don’t use someone else’s.
23. Ask yourself, “Is what I am doing right now really making a difference?”
24. Do things today that will give you leveraged advancements in your work weeks from now.
25. Systematize regular, repetitious tasks by setting up smarter processes.
26. Build in delegation and support from associates, friends and family to take pressure off yourself.
27. Lower your expectations of perfection and don’t expect 100% completion of your to-do list each day–carry some over for another day.
28. Review your values every quarter so you know what is important to you, and how to plan your time.