Increase Your Productivity – 12 Rules

frustrated handDid you just get stopped because you were looking for the BEST solution? As you take time to find the easiest or most efficient way forward, you may just find yourself stopped completely in your tracks. We may even do this on purpose to avoid decisions… It’s, “Paralysis by Analysis!

Wanna find a work-around and get yourself moving? You’re looking for some rules to help you reach your goal quickly… even when the entire path isn’t clear from the start.

Look at this example – you want to make your way from New York to California… but there are no roads! You might create simple rules like these:

  1. Follow Horace Greeley’s advice and, “Go west young man!”
  2. Try ONLY to walk around obstacles (easier than going over them!).
  3. You come to the Rocky Mountains… find the space between two smaller peaks and pass through there.
  4. Repeat and repeat ‘til you get to California.

Is this set of rules the best way to get there – No! HOWEVER… it will get you where you want to go, and has the advantage of getting you going NOW, not tomorrow, or next week, or next year… NOW!

Here are some simple rules to get you going now and increase your productivity:

  1. Work at YOUR best time. Most people are very productive at some times of the day, and drag at other times. Best practice – schedule your toughest tasks during your best time.
  2. Only work on what NEEDS to be done. If you don’t need it, don’t do it – toss it.
  3. Do the tough stuff first. Those unpleasant tasks are best done quickly (like ripping a bandage off quickly). Then the rest of your day is fun stuff.
  4. Establish daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. See the note about the Franklin Planner below. Each day, lay out and commit to plans for the day (or next day if you plan at the end of the day). Your plan becomes your road map for the day, and you don’t have to think about it – just do it!
  5. Turn off distractions. When you start on serious work, turn off the distracting phone and cell phone, email, even your radio if you would rather listen to the tunes than do the work – everything that keeps you from concentrating and working. Use a, “Do not disturb,” sign if it will help. You probably don’t have to do this for everything, but the tougher tasks demand your full attention, so, “Clear the decks” of distractions.
  6. Group similar tasks. Email – all together. Phone calls – all together. Opening snail mail – all together. You’ll be amazed how much more productive you can be this way.
  7. Give yourself a time deadline. Many tasks will take several hours, but if you break them up into shorter segments with deadlines, you’ll find that things will go faster – because you have the deadline to work toward.
  8. Let your goals be your guide. For instance, if you need to make a bunch of cold-calls to generate sales, set a challenging goal, and don’t get up from your desk until it’s done. Go to the bathroom BEFORE you start, and don’t quit until you are done or there’s a fire drill.
  9. Use the 80/20 Rule. You’ve heard of the Pareto Principle… 20% of your actions should provide 80% of the benefits. So focus on the 20% tasks that get the most results. These may not be the most enjoyable tasks in front of you, but you’ll be surprised at how much you get done by concentrating a lot of effort on the critical 20%.
  10. Delegate – delegate – delegate. Who else can pick up some of your load? People in your organization, or freelancers and Virtual Assistants whom you hire. Whenever possible, use other peoples’ time to give yourself more time.
  11. Deadlines work. Working against the clock really helps to focus your time and energy.
  12. Work faster. You may laugh, but really, try this. Just do stuff a bit faster. Talk faster, walk faster, write faster, read faster – each one cuts a little time off each task and, by the end of the day, you get more done.

Simple rules, but the simple solutions usually work best. At the heart of it all is staying on task… just stick to it, keep at it, and you’ll, “Git ‘er done!” These 12 simple rules will help you do just that.

One of today’s greatest tools to help you get organized and plan your life to keep moving forward and keep on track is a FranklinPlanner. This is an outgrowth of the late Steven R. Covey’s bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the 20th Century. Mr. Covey devoted his working career to helping people work better and more productively, so let him help you.

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