Plan Your Work
1. Understand the difference between “effective” and “efficient”. Effective is doing the right things. Efficient is doing things in the right manner. Both are important, but you need to be doing the right things first before you can do them in the right manner. Combine the two and you’ll be really working smarter, not harder.
2. Remember the 80/20 principle. Eighty percent of your results come from just twenty percent of your effort. Focus on results, not work. More hours does not always equal more results.
3. Outline your process. Yes, every project is unique, but the tasks and milestones in each project are pretty similar. Outlining the process helps you see where to eliminate steps or make the process more efficient. Mind Maps are a great tool for this exercise.
4. Use checkists. Most project management software allows you to create checklists and to-do lists. Once you’ve outlined your process, you can create checklists for each stage of the project. What are your standard deliverables? What problems do you typically run into? What often gets missed? Take a look at Atul Gawande’s book, The Checklist Manifesto, for practical advice on creating and managing checklists.
Focus Your Time
Time is the one resource that cannot be created or stored. It’s our most precious commodity. Guard your time and use it effectively – you can’t make any more.
5. Time is the one resource that cannot be created or stored. It’s our most precious commodity. Guard your time and use it effectively – you can’t make any more.
6. Fill your time jar with the big rocks first.
7. Try working fewer hours, not more. This forces you to focus on the most important tasks. Plus, research shows that working more than forty hours is downright unproductive.
8. Keep a time log. Record how you spend your time during the course of a typical week. This log should be more detailed than a timesheet. You want to record everything you do during the course of the work day. Writing an email to a client, surfing the Internet – record it in the log. Do this for a whole week and you’ll have a really good picture of where your time goes.
9. Eat the frog. Mark Twain said if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, then nothing worse will happen to you all day. Tackle the thing you really don’t want to do first thing in the morning, when you’re fresh. Get it done, then you can move on to the tasks you actually enjoy.
10. Batch related tasks. If you’re working on multiple projects, try working on similar tasks in a series rather than jumping from project to project. This will save you time and energy since focused on a single task.