After thoroughly analyzing over 10,000 weekly timekeeping journals a clear pattern emerged. I could see three distinct time periods that were not being taken advantage of, thus reducing those participant’s daily results. Below are the three keys to improving your daily productivity.
1. The Last 15-30 Minutes of Each Day
Do you wake up in the middle of the night with a thought (nightmare) about work? Do you get out of bed and send that email you forgot to send before you left work? Would you like to have better mental separation between work and home? Do you ever come to work and feel like you never left? In 93.7% of the time journals participants worked up to the last minute then quickly got up and left. The key is, before you leave, do a mental brain dump before you leave work and leave it at work. Look through email, your existing list, your project plans, etc. and tie up loose ends. The mind doesn’t care that you didn’t get everything done. It just wants to know you have a plan for tomorrow and that you’re in control before you leave work each day. This brain dump and planning will improve the quality of your personal life when you get home because you’ll now be mentally and emotionally available because you won’t be thinking about work. In addition, you’ll sleep soundly every night!
2. The First Hour of Your Day
Because of planned the night before, you’ll already have a head start on the day. People say they look forward more to work when they come to work with a plan versus no plan. Try to get to work a little early and build a “running start” to your day. What you get done in the first hour has a direct correlation to when you can leave that day. Put the task that matters most in your first hour (not relationship building) and get off to a powerful start. Put your most difficult task (that would make you feel great if you got it done) on your Outlook calendar, and block your first hour. Now check email and take a break. If you have to check email first, just look for two “veggie” emails (that have an immediate deadline and are important), then close email and get what matters most done right away. Remember, your first hour might be your only good hour before you lose control of your day (and your plan goes haywire.)
3. 90% of All Productivity Gains Occur Before 12 Noon
By getting off to a strong start (in the first hour) you’ve gained the momentum necessary to build a strong morning. 80% pf the population are morning people. Put your two most important tasks in the morning and “sprinkle” interruptions and meetings around them. Try moving “status” or “FYI” meetings to the afternoon where they belong. Try to match your most difficult work against your highest energy cycle. By having a strong morning you can put your less intense work in the afternoon as your energy dies into the end of your day. Return calls and emails, train and/or engage others, or go to status meetings in the afternoon. This strategy will make it easier to close each day because you won’t be finishing your day on a “dead run.”
These strategies can be found in my book Organizing for Success (reprint 2010 McGraw-Hill) and our course, The Path to Becoming Highly Effective.
Try these three strategies and call or email me with questions or comments. Look forward to hearing from you!