Many of my coaching clients talk to me about increasing efficiency. The first place to start with this is always what are you doing right now that is not efficient? If you can’t answer this question, then it is really hard to see where to start.
Assuming that you have an idea of where some of your inefficiencies lie, here are a few tips that might get you moving towards better use of your time.
When do you work best?
For some people, it’s the morning. As in, even before coffee type of morning. For others, it’s 10pm after other people have gone to bed. Perhaps it is straight after lunch when you blitz through your tasks with ninja-like efficiency. This zone is the key time to schedule your hardest, most difficult tasks. Work hard to make your diary work for you so that you don’t have meetings or answer emails during this time period. Answering emails often feels like good efficiency (and if you run your own business, there is no getting away from the fact that you have to deal with them), but emails are often about someone else’s problem. Unless the emails you are answering are particularly difficult, they are best left to periods of the day where your brain isn’t running at its best so that you can harness that power for other things.
TOP TIP – keep note of how efficiently you work at different times of day so you know your zone. If you know it, you can use it.
How do you prioritise?
I am a massive fan of the Urgent/Important matrix, a concept beloved by Eisenhower.
A lot of people struggle with this when they first start to use it and invariably it is to do with the Urgent/Non Urgent part. I recommend using a specific deadline for this, such as due within 2 days/not due within 2 days or due this week/beyond this week. It doesn’t actually matter what you use, as long as it works for you.
Dr Stephen Covey wrote about the matrix and defined the tasks in their quadrants, as above, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When we look at these titles, we see that ideally we want to spend as much time as possible in our Goals and Planning quadrant. This is where we feel in control and organised and there are fewer chances of things slipping into the Crises quadrant. Ideally (depending on how you define urgent), your time in the Crises quadrant is minimal. You want to spend more time doing things than fire fighting.
Many clients that struggle with efficiency find themselves spending a lot of time bouncing between Interruptions and Distractions until something becomes a Crisis. If you spend an appropriate amount of time in Goals and Planning, you will find that you spend less and less time in Crisis. That largely depends on your ability to minimise your time in Interruptions and Distractions.
TOP TIP – get into the habit of plotting all of your to-do lists in the urgent/important matrix. If everything falls into the Crises quadrant, you are struggling to distinguish what is important and urgent. This is your area to spend more time on.
Work out what you don’t want to do
Have a NOT TO DO list. Examples may include, not checking social media during work hours (difficult if part of your work is running your business social media account, admittedly!), looking at irrelevant emails, saying yes to others when you don’t really have time.
TOP TIP – turn off notifications and limit your time on email, social media, etc to designated time in your day. Not only does it make your more efficient, you train other people not to expect immediate responses. Their crisis does not have to become yours.
If you’d like to know more about efficiencies and productivity, I collect many pins on Pinterest on my Get Organised Board. It’s divided into sections on Productivity, Bullet Journals and Minimalism so you know where to go to find the things that interest you. If you follow it, then you’ll get an update when I add new content. Find the Board here, https://pin.it/qrxi7u3yqmf5ab