If you're pulled in too many directions you'll enjoy these 10 productivity hacks to help take back control of your day. (Thank you to our Business Coaching Clients for both contributing ideas and being the test cases to try these out.)
1. Start your day by asking what ONE thing could you do today that in 30 minutes or less would have the biggest impact on your business? Then do that one thing before you do anything else.
I caution you to be ruthlessly realistic about what you can get done in 30 minutes. Chunk down a larger project into the one piece you could bite off and get done in just 30 minutes of focused time.
2. Set aside one 4-hour (half day) chunk of time each week for high value focus time. To create value we need blocks of time, yet as business owners our time is increasingly fractured into smaller and smaller units.
Pick one day each week that you'll carve out a 4-hour block to work on your highest value work. During this time turn off your email, close your door and perhaps even leave your office altogether and work from a remote, distraction free location.
3. Do your "Feared thing first." Rather than wasting all your emotional energy dreading this item, each day ask yourself, what's my most feared thing on my to do list today? And just get it done -- right then, right there. It will free up an immense amount of energy for you to invest in other business activities.
4. Narrow your focus to those fewer, better things that will truly make a difference. The mantra the most successful business owners all share is "Fewer; Better."
Remember, you have a limited amount of attentional units so invest them wisely. Right now, focus on executing extremely well on one or two things, not skimming the surface of 10.
Half done is often much more expensive than not done at all. If the task matters, take it to completion before moving on to the next item.
5. Hire a personal assistant. Most people are afraid that they just don't have enough to ask a personal assistant to do. After working with thousands of business owners my experience shows that almost always the opposite is true -- you have too much for your assistant to do, not too little.
You could ask your personal assistant to:
• Coordinate your travel
• Scan in files and set up an e-filing system for you
• Update your blog
• Schedule meetings
• Screen your inbox
• Handle billing issues
• Troubleshoot computer fixes while you're out of the office
• Tickler key dates and prompt you to remember
• Follow up with your team on key deliverables from meetings
6. Hire out help for any other work you can pay under $25 per hour to get the result you want. This could be hiring more admin or clerical help; or someone else to do any lifting, moving or shifting of stuff; or getting someone else to do low value errands for you. The key is that you take any "saved" time and reinvest it in either higher value activities to grow your company, or in a better quality of life for you personally.
7. Age your email to reduce your email. Remember, the faster you respond, the more they will keep emailing you.
8. Beware using your "in box" as your to do list. Email is a great tool to share information and to dash off quick notes, but it is a lousy task manager. Use a list or specifically designed task manager, no email, to manage your to do's.
9. If you schedule a lot of appointments each month, consider using an appointment app like timetrade.com to do it much more efficiently. This one tool now saves my office 5 hours a week of scheduling effort.
10. Use multiple email "signature" lines to save time. You can use them as a way to store form letters and template for recurring types of emails you and your team send out.
11. Put out recurring fires -- permanently. Brainstorm 3 recurring fires you regularly deal with and create systematic ways to solve them permanently. Do this either by solving the root cause, or by delegating the problem to a team member you can train and empower to handle them. Remember, prevention is almost always better than treatment.
12. Grow your capacity to tolerate leaving lower value tasks undone. Some things just don't matter. What is your compulsion to "check the box" that you've done an item on your to do list costing you in terms of wasted tasks. One of the best ways to get more done is to choose more to not do.
For more ideas on growing your business, including a free tool kit with 21 in-depth video trainings to help you scale your business and get your life back, click here.