Practically every business leader can increase their personal productivity by managing their time better. There are a lot of ways to be more productive, but here are 10 ways I’ve seen can make a big impact. Put these to work and you too will be able to increase your personal productivity.
1. Control Your Email
The first tip is to get control of your email by reducing the volume of it. Recent reports suggest that the typical business owner gets 100-200 emails per day. If you spend just 2 minutes per email that represents a big chunk of your day. Start saving time by reducing the volume of email you receive. Unsubscribe to lists that clutter your inbox. Mark other unwanted emails as “spam” or “junk” and have them filtered out of your inbox.
There are services, such as Unroll.me, that will unsubscribe you from email lists in bulk, and then group your subscriptions together in one email daily! Maybe you can use your phone more.
Chances are that you can reduce your email volume by as much as 50% with some of these strategies. And most importantly, touch email only once!
2. Improve the Quality of Your Emails
Start using shorter, more efficient messages in your email. When you send an email to multiple people at once, if possible, tell them to NOT “reply all.” This will help others reduce their email volume too. If there are subscriptions that you want to receive but typically don’t have time to get to them right away, use filters so they will go directly into designated folders to look at later. When possible, simply put your message in the subject line and leave the body blank. This practice alone will help improve the efficiency of email significantly.
3. Use a Filing System
Most inbox programs offer you the capability to create folders. Use this. Put important emails that you want to keep in a folder where it will be easily retrievable. Most have powerful search capabilities, so consider using only 1 folder for all of your processed email instead of many different folders. Then, you can search for what you need instead of wasting time looking through those folders you created. This will save you time as well.
4. Limit Your Time Online
Enough said, right? Especially on social media. There are tools and apps that will actually block social media sites and other distractions on your computer for certain amounts of time. If you don’t have the self-control to do it yourself, consider using one of those.
5. Process Your “Stuff” Immediately
Everyday we get bombarded with “stuff.” It just comes our way and we often don’t know what to do with it. Use the 4-D system for processing your “stuff”:
- Do it. If it will take you less than 2-minutes, don’t put it off and just do it right then.
If it will take you longer than 2-minutes, do one of these 3 things:
- Delay it. Put it on your calendar or to-do list for a later date.
- Delegate it. Is there someone else who can or should take care of this? Delegate it to them.
- Delete it. Many times, we keep things around when they can just be deleted or discarded. Think about it…what will happen if I do absolutely nothing about this “thing?” If it’s negligible, then delete it.
6. Stop Attending (or Creating) Low-Impact Meetings
Learn how to run more effective meetings and stop wasting time in those meetings that produce very little. Think about it. Would the information in your meeting be better put in an email? A memo?
7. Close Your Door
An “open-door” policy can severely reduce productivity. Consider having a closed door for portions of the day where your employees and co-workers know you aren’t to be bothered.
8. Batch Tasks
Don’t check email constantly throughout the day (unless that of course is your sales desk.) Instead “batch” your emails into 2 or 3 time slots a day. Those will become the only times you will check email during the course of the day. Use the same idea that with other things that you can batch together for efficiency.
9. “Eat the Frog,” First
Brian Tracy tells the story of “eating the frog.” The frog represents that item or task that you are most inclined to procrastinate doing. Decide to address that task before you do anything else. In other words, eat the frog first. Your day will only look up after that!
10. Take Time to Plan
Get your day organized and stay organized. Once a day and once a week, take time to plan. Use the Daily Process that I’ve talked about. By investing a little time in planning and organization, you will save a ton of time down the road.