WHERE DO YOU START?
In order to determine the steps to achieve a goal, start With the goal & keep asking the question, what has to be done before that? Write he steps down in reverse until it takes you to the first thing you have to do. Now you have a step-by-step procedure for achieving the goal.
A To Do List is the practice of wish craft.
STARTING THE DAY RIGHT
Have a good breakfast, start work on time, check your daily plan, begin with the most important task, avoid impulsive activities, & stick to your plan as much as possible.
ASSESS EVERY INTERRUPTION
If it’s not both urgent & important, ask if it can be discussed later.
SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
There is a direct correlation between the possession of things & the consumption of time. Looking after 100 things takes more time than looking after 10 things.
KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO
Saying yes to something without first considering whether we should be doing it is just as bad as saying no to something that would further our goals.
DISCARD FIRST, THEN ORGANIZE
Emile Barnes, in her book, The 15-Minute Organizer (Harvest House, 1991) tells the story of a woman who, over a five week period, had organized her home into 62 cardboard cartons. The woman admitted she was a packrat but that at least she was an organized one!
BEWARE OF DOING TWO THINGS AT ONCE
When people multitask, productivity goes down & the rate at which they do the task goes down.
WHAT TO DELEGATE
For greatest impact, start with the jobs that require little training, consume the biggest chunks of time, & recur frequently.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Insist on getting a profitable return on your invested time. If there will be a limited return, limit your time.
LEAVING A VOICE MAIL MESSAGE
Respect other people’s time as well. When leaving messages, speak slowly, clearly, & repeat your name & phone number. Spell your name if it’s unusual or difficult to pronounce.
FAMILY & BUSINESS LIFE
Eight in ten CEOs report that a healthy family life is crucial to a productive business life.
CUT YOUR LOSSES
If you start an activity, such as watching a TV program, & find it’s a waste of time, stop. Starting what you finish is not always a good idea. The same thing applies to business projects.
TRYING PRODUCES FEWER REGRETS
People describing regrets in their life focus on things they failed to do as opposed to those things they failed at doing.
Major projects will never be finished if they are never started. The key to getting things done is to get things started. Pick a date & time & stick to it.
WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS
Why would people willingly jot down travel directions & yet be reluctant to write down personal goals that would give them directions in their life?
Gain your customer’s respect more quickly by speaking more slowly. People rate speakers who speak more slowly as being 38% more knowledgeable than speakers who speak more quickly.
INADEQUATE SLEEP CAN BE A TIMEWASTER
Inadequate sleep reduces innovative thinking by 60% & flexibility in decision-making by 39%.
WORRY REDUCES PRODUCTIVITY
Those who spend a lot of time worrying about their jobs are 17% less productive than workers who seldom or never worry about their job.
An estimated two-thirds of business callers end up leaving a voice mail message, which isn’t so surprising considering that on any given day 40% of IBM’s employees aren’t in the office. When reviewing your voice mail, jot the information in a log book so you’ll have a record of action required, telephone number, etc. & be able to prioritize any necessary callbacks.
BE SPECIFIC WITH YOUR GOALS
People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50% more likely to feel confident they will attain their goals & 32% more likely to feel in control of their lives.
IMPROVE YOUR MEETINGS
Always take a few minutes after each meeting to evaluate how it went. Jot down what you will do differently the next time to improve the process.
DO WHAT YOU DO BEST & DELEGATE THE REST
People spend 80% of their time doing things at which they are second best. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Success is determined by what you can successfully control, not by what you can do personally.
REDUCING LAUNDRY TIME
If you have two sets of washers & dryers installed at home & combined with the practice of purchasing a 30-day supply of frequently used items such as socks, underwear & t-shirts. This will allow you to reduce laundry time to a couple of hours each month.
KEEP A CLUTTER-FREE
The average desk-worker has 36 hours worth of work on the desk, & spends three hours a week just sorting through it.
A MOTHER’S TIME
Just to put a parent’s job in perspective that a stay-at-home mom with three children is holding down the equivalent of two full-time jobs.
ELIMINATE FIRST, SCHEDULE LATER
If you schedule time for everything on your To Do list, you’ll be overscheduled. Eliminate the non-priorities & schedule only the important, goal-related activities.
A MESSY DESK IS A NATURAL OCCURRENCE
A Harvard professor, George K. Zipf, about 70 years ago penned a law that stated that frequency of use draws near to us things that are frequently used. People are reluctant to file what they’re going to need again soon. A messy desk results.
The two most important factors motivating email recipients to open an email are the from line & subject line. 60% of respondents in one study quoted the from line as most important & 35% quoted the subject line. Make sure you clearly identify both the sender & the topic.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Always insure that you get a profitable return on your invested time. Invest in priorities, not timewasters.
DON’T READ REPORTS AT MEETINGS
Keep meetings shorter by having all reports distributed & reviewed a week ahead.
TOO MUCH STUFF?
According to an article in USA Today (December 26, 2003) self-storage units jumped 31% in the past year, with I in 8 USA households having one. Add to this statistic The Container Store’s sales prediction of $335 million in 2003 & you get the impression that people are buying things & then storing them.
HANDLE E-MAIL EFFICIENTLY
Christina Cavanagh, a professor of management communications at the University of Western Ontario claims that on average, North Americans receive about 50 e-mails a day in the workplace. (Toronto Star, November 17, 2003.)
PLACE TIME LIMITS ON AGENDA ITEMS
Spend time on each meeting agenda item in proportion to the importance of the item.
GET YOUR IN-BASKET OFF YOUR DESK
If people don’t have to approach your desk to deliver mail, you will have fewer interruptions. & you will eliminate the temptation to grab everything that’s dropped in your in-basket.
DON’T PRINT E-MAIL
Paperwork has increased since the advent of e-mail. Don’t keep hardcopies if you already have documents in electronic format.
REACH PEOPLE FASTER
Since you are greeted by voice mail when phoning most companies, it saves time if you have the person’s extension number handy. Always ask for the extension number when entering a person in your directory. & be sure to include your own extension number on your business card.
RECEIVE FAXES WITHOUT A FAX MACHINE
For $3.95 per month you can have a fax number that allows you to receive faxes in PDF as e-mail through www.innoport.com. A similar service is available free through www.efax.com. I’ve tried the latter & it works well, although I understand they may try to charge you if the volume of faxes is high.
PRIORITIZE AGENDA ITEMS
Schedule agenda items in reducing order of importance in the event that you run out of time before all the items have been discussed.
SCREEN THOSE MESSAGES
E-mail is costing companies millions of dollars in lost productivity, according to Christina Cavanaugh, author of Managing Your E-Mail: Thinking Outside the Box. At least one hour per day is being wasted on useless e-mail.
Schedule personal & family activities in your planner as well as your work-related activities to insure balance.
PERSONALIZE YOUR TIME MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
There is no one best system. Some people work more effectively with paper planners, others with PDAs, some with personal organizers, others with steno pads. Use what works best for you.
According to Debra Black, writing in the Toronto Star (You’ve Got Too Much Mail, November 17, 2003) some people are so overwhelmed, they routinely delete everything rather than cope with the growing pile of e-mail & scores of messages left on their voice mail. One thing is certain; you had better capture the reader’s interest quickly when you send e-mail.
REDUCE STAFF INTERRUPTIONS
Holding brief stand-up meetings with your staff each morning may reduce the number of interruptions experienced during the day.
MAKE WISE CHOICES
Have your goals recorded at the front of your planner so you can reference them quickly when asked to take on another activity. If the activity does nothing to further your goals you should probably say no.
WHEN YOU MAKE A CHANGE STICK TO IT
Many ideas can only be implemented successfully by persisting until they become habits. According to Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics, it takes 21 days to form a habit. Don’t give up too soon.
IMPROVE YOUR MEETINGS
Always take a few minutes at the end of each meeting to evaluate how it went.
PARTICIPATION AT MEETINGS
Call on newer employees to express their views first so they aren’t intimidated by the more senior employees.
STICKY REMINDER NOTES
If you surround your computer screen with sticky notes you can clean up your act with electronic Stickies 4.5b, downloadable free at http://www.btinternet.com/~tom.revell. You can create, edit, move or delete these yellow reminder notes that appear on your screen. It’s hard to forget something that’s stuck right on top of your work in progress (although you can hide them as well.)
SURVIVING E-MAIL OVERLOAD
The problem with e-mail is there’s too much of it. Forget the cute jokes, chain letters, riddles, limericks & cartoons. People can survive without them. Open few, delete most & forward none.
ADOPT A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Exercise, good eating habits, sufficient sleep & a positive outlook will all help you to cope with stressful situations.
DON’T ENCOURAGE INTERRUPTIONS
Don’t store supplies or locate equipment near your workstation if they have to be accessed frequently by others.
KEEP YOUR OFFICE BUSINESSLIKE
A lot of family photos, trophies, certificates & conversation pieces can generate chitchat that consumes time that you can’t afford.
ELIMINATE REPETITIVE TYPING
One software program that has save me a lot of time is Shortkeys from www.shortkeys.com. It eliminates repetitive typing & the possibility of errors by allowing me to insert up to 3000 keystrokes of boilerplate material into a document or e-mail message with a few strokes of the keyboard.
PLAN FOR YOUR REPLACEMENT
One of the responsibilities of a manager is to train his or her replacement to insure a smooth transition in the future.
GOALS ADD PURPOSE TO LIVES
Mark Lee, author of How to Set Goals & Really Reach Them, wrote that goal oriented persons seem healthier, happier & more confident than non-oriented persons.
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START
An old Japanese proverb claims that saying it’s too early makes it too late. Never put off starting something simply because it won’t be needed for quite a while.
STICKY REMINDER NOTES
If you surround your computer screen with sticky notes you can clean up your act with electronic Stickies 4.5b, downloadable free at www.btinternet.com/~tom.revell. You can create, edit, move or delete these yellow reminder notes that appear on your screen. It’s hard to forget something that’s stuck right on top of your work in progress (although you can hide them as well.)
MOBILITY IN THE OFFICE
A cordless telephone headset will free up both hands & allow you to move around the office as you work. Linda Talley, a professional speaker, recommends the Plantronics model CA10 & handset lifter HL10 from www.plantronics.com. Teleconference guru Judy Sabah also recommends Plantronics. Another case of an expense that may have a big payback.
PARETO’S PRINCIPLE IN ACTION
If 20 percent of your staff account for 80 percent of the results, these are the ones you should support & encourage with additional training & rewards. Not that you should ignore the low producers, because you want them to improve. But realizing a one percent increase in production from the top producers will affect the bottom line more than a similar increase from the low producers.
Most felt pens leak at high altitudes. Use a ballpoint pen or one that specifically states it is air travel friendly. Resist the urge to accept headsets unless you’re on vacation. TV anywhere is a time robber. & take advantage of the relatively interruption-free flight time for priority work.
EFFICIENCY & EFFECTIVENESS WORK IN TANDEM
Without effectiveness, we lack direction drift away from the priorities, & become busy without accomplishing the 20% of the tasks that represent 80% of the value. On the other hand, without efficiency we experience the frustration of knowing exactly where we want to go, but see little progress in that direction.
INFRINGING ON SLEEP TIME CAN BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE
According to an article in Bayprint Impressions, decreasing sleep time by as little as 1.3 to 1.5 hours for just one night reduces daytime alertness by 32 percent. People who get less than six hours of sleep per night have a 70 percent higher mortality rate than those who get seven or eight hours a night.