Productivity Habits

10th October 2016

I often get asked about how I stay so organised and get so much done. Interestingly, the more I get asked, the more I try and nut it out. A great deal of what I do and the way I do is taken from my life long and everyday habits, I didn’t realise they were productivity habits until I started reading books and blogs. So here is my current best thinking about time, paper, pixel and task management.

There’s a reason that over 25 million copies of Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People” have been sold globally. It is an amazing book. It is one to purchase and reference. A great deal of his content is now mainstream management speak and will be familiar to you.

Design a supportive environment
Your own non shared workspace, preferably in your own office with a door that closes is incredibly important. Natural light is a must for me. A bottle of water and snacks on hand. One pencil case of tools goes with me everywhere. A lockable under drawer filing cabinet is a life saver. Declutter, please declutter.  Train yourself to avoid distractions. Train others to respect your need for uninterrupted time. It is OK to close your office door, it’s a game changer.

Best possible technology
Use the best possible technology hardware and software you can manage. Ensure programs are up to date. Fully utilise technology, set up your contacts, email, to do lists and calendar to sync across laptop, touch screen and smart phone. Always work off two screens, always. Use best possible business management and practice management software; really use it. Business is a commitment not a hobby. Turn off all your email, SMS, social media notifications. Tether your laptop to your smart phone, so that you can work anywhere, anytime.

End of day habit
I revisit my work pile and sort items into the order they need to be done the next day. As most of this is confidential in nature, I lock the pile away overnight. I file everything away that I can. Task / file / document closer. I list my No Fail tasks for the next day; 5 max, otherwise they won’t all get done.  This daily list is in my monthly notebook. I can’t stand Post-It Notes®. By doing this at the end of the day, I capture the work flow and have a next day vibe in place.

Time blocking
I set aside realistic blocks of time in my calendar to write a blog, build a presentation, develop a product, make phone calls, review social media, walk around the block, have lunch… The trick then, is to stick to it. It makes a monumental difference if you can.

When I jump on social media I flip my hourglass timer, 30 minutes max. I mostly leave my mobile phone run to voicemail. Late morning and afternoon I pick up and act on messages in one batch. My most productive days are when I start on task and ignore emails until midday. I love those days.

When I meet for coffee or take a “can I pick your brains call”, I state how much time I have. Who invented the 60 minute default meeting? The 30-minute complimentary coaching call is working wonders for powerful conversations with wonderful Paeds Biz owners.

Set up files akin to what you would have in your filing cabinet. And start filing. Get all those emails filed, saved into your practice management system and deleted where necessary. Unsubscribe from all those things you never read. Set up a Rule for specific emails to go to a file for you to read later. Just like paper, I have a touch it once approach. I have a content preview format; a glance tells me what’s required, I then know whether it’s a do now/later task. It stays unread until I act on it. Time to fess up… on Friday mornings, one of my assistants will file all the emails over to my practice management software system. Best investment ever. Worst case scenario my inbox has about 20 emails that need actioning.

Rocks and stones
Tackle the two or three big rock tasks first, get them done and in the jar. The smaller stone tasks will fall in around the big rocks and the fiddly sand tasks will fall in over the top.

What productivity tip will you try?
How can you change your work space?
Are you fully utilising tech?

This article featured in the October Edition of Paeds Biz.

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