Some days, the list of things you need to get done can seem overwhelming. Even if you start the day determined to check off those items on your to-do list, meetings, phone calls and a steady stream of email can derail you and take you away from those high-priority tasks.
“Having too many tasks and not enough time often causes people to lose focus and motivation and drift away from pursuing their highest priority work,” explains motivation and performance expert Andy Core in his book Change Your Day, Not Your Life: A Realistic Guide to Sustained Motivation, More Productivity, and the Art of Working Well. “The amount of information that must be managed, the multiple responsibilities that must be juggled, and the high volume of decisions that must be made can and often do add up to an overwhelming tide. However, making a few tweaks in your work day can make a huge difference.”
Core offers tips on becoming a “thriver”—someone who manages the demands on his time to reach the heights of success. Here are 3 strategies to boost your productivity:
1. Limit meetings. According to Industry Week, 30 percent of the time managers spend in meetings is wasted. A single one-hour meeting per day can add up to more than an hour and a half wasted each week. Core’s advice? “Meet less often with fewer people. Limit your time and stick to it, and most importantly, have a clear goal for your meeting and strictly stay on topic.”
2. Limit email. Do you keep your email program open at all times? Are you constantly clicking back and forth between your inbox and whatever project you’re working on? It’s a common—and unproductive—syndrome. “Too often, we become slaves to our emails,” says Core. “If I were to answer every email instantaneously, I’d literally be answering them all day. Instead I have three periods during the day (right before lunch, 3:00 p.m., and right before I leave for the day) where I check my emails, and after the third period, I stop.”
3. Tackle the big things before 9:00 a.m. How you begin your day can have a huge impact on how the rest of it goes. Get off to a great start and you can more easily maintain your momentum. “I know a top salesman named Barry whose daily pattern involves getting up early and accomplishing several meetings or other work activities before 9:00 a.m. The point here isn’t how early Barry’s alarm rings—it’s that he makes the most of the first several hours of his day instead of snoozing and procrastinating, as so many of us do,” says Core.
Small changes in the way you approach tasks throughout the day can make a big difference in your productivity level. By getting a running start on your day and decreasing distractions, you can make the most of it.
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