In sales, we learn to sell benefits rather than features. Keeping that in mind, the way to sell yourself on maximizing your productivity is to realize that with a super-dialed calendar and well thought-out workday strategy, you can perform at double your standard capacity. This is important because a key to fulfillment is living our ideal life into each day, not just every week or month.We want sufficient time to recharge, have fun and be excited about something each and every day.
The following five strategies will help you optimize your time so that you can be the best you at the workplace and outside of it, too.
1. Huddle and speak your intentions. Huddles aren’t just for sports teams! A morning huddle is your opportunity to verbalize your intentions for the day, reinforce team coheshion and hold yourself (and others) accountable for daily performance.
All it takes is three to six minutes to get together with your co-workers, department or leadership team and ensure everyone is aligned for that day. Every person in the huddle should state his/her crucial goals for the day and let others know if they are needed. If you don’t have a team, huddle with your coach, direct supervisor or accountability buddy for a quick check-in call. Standing in the huddle keeps everyone alert and efficient.
2. Do the toughest and most important thing on your to-do list first. We typically don’t want to do our toughest tasks first but it is to our advantage to accomplish what I call the "main crucial” while our ego/willpower depletion is at a minimum.
When thinking about the most important task for the day, ask yourself what you can do today that will provide the most value to your company. List these tasks at the start of the week and revise the list nightly for the next day. Only after we’ve taken care of our most important work should we begin tasks that require less energy, like checking our email (but don’t do that without having a strategy first!).
3. Have a clearly defined email strategy. It’s easy to get lost in email. For better or worse (I believe worse), we live in an email and smartphone-saturated culture but not every email that comes in requires an immediate response. A firm email policy will save you time and help you to be much, much more productive.
Only check your email inbox during the time you’ve set aside in your calendar. First, scan your subject lines and senders to determine which emails are time sensitive or urgent. Answer those emails first. Remember, you’ve only allotted a certain amount of time for email and need to stick to plan.
Next, process those emails that take two minutes or less to respond to. Plan to deal with email requiring action or a response that takes more than two minutes during your “flex time” later in the day. Schedule less-urgent items for the near future instead of cluttering your “flex time,” which you set aside for things that come up unexpectedly.
Don’t spend any more time in your inbox than you allotted. If there are emergencies, pick up the phone or meet in person. Don't rely on faceless email to solve problems or deal with emotionally-charged situations.
4. Have a meeting strategy. A meeting without an agenda is likely a waste of time. Ask in advace for an agenda and the objective(s) of every meeting you attend. Push meetings that will not require difficult decision-making to the second half of your day so that you have sufficient time to complete your crucial tasks for the day.
5. Eat alone sometimes. Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone has been a staple for business leaders and entrepreneurs for nearly a decade. It espouses the idea that businesspeople should use lunches as a time to network.
It's good advice but you don’t have to network in person. Use your lunchtime to ping your peers via email, LinkedIn or the phone. The goal is to connect regularly and build reciprocity with those in your network, not just ping them when you need something.
That said, sometimes the most important thing to do on your lunch is to simply recharge for the second half of your day. Your choose, as long as you’re following your plan.
The glue binding these strategies is best conveyed by one word: planning. We all have 24 hours in each day. Treat each day as a gift by planning and leveraging your time.
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