Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to productivity. With so many distractions at the office, it?s easy to get side tracked and this can prevent us from getting important work done. Here, Cory Cook gives her top tips to stop wasting your time.
1 Stop comparing yourself to others ? Run your own race. There?s neither time nor reason to fret over what others are doing or their position in the field. By all means be inspired by others. But remember, you don?t know where they are on their path. Does another person?s position truly have any bearing on yours? Stop measuring. It diverts the attention off of you and your goals. Focus instead on spending quality time advancing your own position ? along your own path of success ? from where you are now.
2 Stop perfecting what doesn?t require it ? Know the difference between what does require a degree of perfection, eg accurate content for publications, proposals, etc, and when ?good enough? will do. Why spend twenty minutes crafting an email when a one-minute, two-sentence reply would suffice?
3 Stop going online without setting a timer ? Yes, the internet is amazing, from trivia to staying connected to promoting business and much more. Equally, online activity is amazingly time draining. Found the article you needed for your report? Great. Now get out and get on with something else. Don?t be tempted by the tantalising video or compelling article link. You think you?ll click one, but we all know the truth ? it?ll lead to fifty more. Set a timer to keep time real and keep you focused. Get in and get out.
4 Stop getting ready to get ready ? Sure, planning and preparing is important and the minutes spent here will reduce actual working time. However, there comes a point when we keep stalling instead of diving in. We figure we?ll wait until we get one more piece of information and then we?ll start. Let?s face it ? there will always be another piece of something to add. Don?t let preparation morph into procrastination. Know when to cease prep time and just get started.
5 Stop allowing interruptions from taking over ? These are inevitable, but they can be minimised with a bit of practice and anticipation. Diplomatically cut to the chase by asking a few questions up front. ?How can I help?? gets to the point, revealing the true purpose of the interruption. If information is requested that you have to hand, handle it and move on. If it?s more complex, ask how much time is needed and ? unless urgent ? diarise accordingly. If the interruption is purely social, politely decline with a simple ?I?d love to catch up but I?m [on deadline, in the middle of a task, etc.].? Being consistent and vigilant with your time shows respect to your commitments.
6 Stop doing everything when someone else can help ? Determine what only you can do. Then get help on the stuff anyone could do. Could you outsource the filing? You may need to compile your own data to present at the next office meeting, but who could print and collate the reports? Hoarding all tasks to yourself dilutes the overall value of your contribution.
7 Stop deliberating over decisions ? Weighing up the pros and cons is one thing. But deliberation to the point of inaction halts progress. The sooner you make a decision, the sooner you can get to work and keep progress in motion. If you?ve truly reached an impasse, don?t underestimate the power of tossing a coin. Make a decision and reverse the inertia.
8 Stop taking the day as it comes ? While this may sound adventuresome in spirit, this approach wastes valuable time. Minutes are lost forever as we shuffle stuff around and try to decide what to do next. Plan and prepare in advance. Having a game plan for the day will give you focus and something to follow.
9 Stop multi-tasking ? Multi-tasking is really more about the succession of switching between tasks. But with each switch, your brain has to refocus, which eats more time than carrying out the task from start to finish. One thing at a time gets the job done faster, often with fewer mistakes and a higher level of quality.
10 Stop recreating the wheel ? Whether it?s collating your finances, performing a computer function, or preparing for a trip, we all do a variety of things that involve a recurring checklist or procedure. No need to waste precious time starting from scratch or relearning the steps every time the task comes around. Identify recurring actions in your personal and business life and create respective checklists and procedures for them.
Pay attention. Always think about keeping progress and motion moving forward, not sideways. When you notice yourself being side tracked, simply stop and re-direct yourself back on track. Think where you could be (and will be) six months or a year from now by replacing those wasted minutes with real, purposeful action.
Cory Cook is a professional organiser and time management expert. For more information, or to read the original article, visit corycook.com