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Personal Productivity Tips and Strategies
Submitted by Leslie Allan on December 2nd, 2010
Do you find that you get to the end of your working day only to ask yourself what you achieved that day? Do you get to the end of the week and moan about how little you got done? If you do, you are not alone. I used to feel the same. Here are some very simple strategies and tips that I use to remain productive and focused on my most important objectives.
Firstly, at the end of each week, I review my goals and identify the activities that I must complete in the following week. These are what I call my High Impact Tasks (HIT). I then schedule time in my diary for each of these activities. These are appointments I make with myself; blocks of uninterrupted time for completing these tasks.
Of course, I need to complete other tasks in addition to my HITs. Other matters arise that require my attention, I need to keep my previous commitments, and so on. It is for these tasks that I maintain a To Do list. At the end of each day, I update my To Do list for the following day and categorize each item into (H)igh, (M)edium or (L)ow importance. I also mark urgent items with a (U). So, a task can be of low importance but urgent, such as returning a telephone call before the caller leaves for the day. I schedule my first HIT for 10.00 am each day. That releases time at the start of each day to tend to the tasks on my To Do list. I also block out one hour per day late in the afternoon to also tend to issues that emerge during the day. For the tasks on my To Do list, I concentrate my efforts on the (U), (H) and (M) tasks, in that order. With any time left over, I devote that to the (L) tasks.
Email and telephone interruptions can be a big time waster. I have email alerts permanently disabled and I turn on my telephone answering machine when I am working on my HITs. I then read, listen and respond to messages at pre-set points in the day; first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon. I endeavour to deal with each email only once by responding immediately, filing for reference, deleting, delegating to someone else or putting on my To Do list.
Think of the 80/20 rule as it applies to personal productivity. Some 80% of your impact is the result of 20% of your activities. By using the strategies and tips I’ve outlined above, I find I can eliminate most of the 80% of chatter; that myriad of inconsequential activities and distractions that keep me from achieving my important goals. What strategies do you use to stay productive and to keep you away from distractions? Tell us what has worked well for you?
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