- Block time for "re-entry". If you know you will be away from the office whether a business trip, a vacation, or any other extended reason, block out time in your calendar for "re-entry." This allows you to process the email, voice mail, and paperwork that accumulated during your absence.
- Use month-at-a-glance view. This gives you a "big picture view" of the month and provides assurance that the month is reasonably balanced, even when particular days or weeks may not be. When? At the beginning of the month and mid-month.
- Use week-at-a-glance view. Again, use this view to check that your week is reasonably balanced. When? The end of the week looking forward and the beginning of the week to verify and prepare for what lies ahead.
- Time Block to answer emails and voice mails. Optimize productivity time by scheduling 15-30 minutes, or whatever time necessary, 3- 4 times each day and devote that time to respond to electronic messages. The key here is "schedule" time; a "catch as catch can" approach to handling emails leaves most folks fragmented and distracted.
- Schedule project time. Most professionals are responsible for oversight and/or implementation of projects. Again, schedule, i.e. time block your calendar to work on them. Treat that time as you would a meeting or any other type of appointment and honor the time you have set aside to move high value work forward.
- Keep a running list of tasks in your planner. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, recommends that tasks be divided by type, i.e., phone calls, at computer, errands, etc. Regardless of whether you follow that (great) advice, keep a list of things you need to do in your e-calendar or task management system.
- Capture notes and reminders for meetings or other appointments. Why attempt to "remember" what is said during meetings or appointments. In some email clients you can capture notes directly into your calendar appointment e-vite window and then drag it to the task folder and create a follow-up task. Another option is to record a brief audio file using the voice memo software on your smart phone. Speak a quick meeting recap, reminder or digest as a voice memo and forward it to yourself via email.
- Be Crystal Clear about your "job". With the plethora of opportunities placed before us on a given day it's easy to commit to something at the request of a co-worker or peer that although valuable will not optionally position you for time to execute the highest value work. Keep a recap of your goals on your digital desktop or at the top of your task list and stay ruthlessly focused towards there completion.
- Empty your psychic RAM. Again, David Allen, author of Getting Things Done speaks to the value of emptying your mind of all tasks and to do's and devote that "free space" to creative, high value thinking. Use your smart phone, tablet,PDA, or carry index cards, blank pieces of paper, or note pads to capture ideas and tasks, then integrate them into your task list/planner.
- Synch your calendar/task-pad/email client to your mobile devices or the cloud so that you have the freedom to access, act or update in any situation.
Top Tip: To find success with any of the above mentioned practices will be challenging if your planner is nowhere to be found; create the best habit first and keep it or some other temporary "capture" tool available at all times.
Schedule a one-on-one 90-minute productivity coaching session with me and I'll give you a personalized, game-plan you can implement immediately.
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