Rules high-performance people live by, and you should too, according to an award-winning author.
Of all the time and productivity management sessions that Dr Jan Yager, American writer and consultant, has conducted, she considers the following her favourite work-less-do-more concepts. In her latest book, she explains how hard-pressed entrepreneurs, professionals, homemakers and students can amp up their productivity.
1. Beat procrastination in 30
Understand, and deal with, procrastination, if this is
something that you are prone to do... The 'trick' that can
reverse the procrastination you may be experiencing for
hours or days or even weeks on a particular project is this:
tell yourself, 'I will work on this project for just thirty
You make a deal with yourself. Almost invariably, you will
be surprised to find that if you can just get started, and
even put thirty minutes towards a dreaded task, you will
be able to spend much more time on it, even completing it
in far less time than you spent ruminating over it.
Monitoring how much time you are spending can also help.
Use your appointment book, or your smartphone or
computer, to keep track of when you start and keep on a
2. Consider deadlines empowering
A realistic deadline will motivate you, so make sure your
deadlines are realistic. A deadline that comes too soon
may discourage you or even 'shut you down'.
If you have agreed to a deadline that isn't feasible, as soon
as you realize the situation, explain why and, if possible,
negotiate for a new time frame. Don't wait till the last
minute so you'll be seen as someone who's disorganised
and unproductive. If the deadline cannot be changed, see
what time-saving strategies you can implement such as
delegating to others - staff members or outsourcing to
freelancers - or to technology, or even revising the goal.
3. Always RRA (Respond Right Away)
Don't just let requests sit there, ignored 'till I get the time to
respond' because you're always going to be pressed for time.
And ignored requests from those that matter can lead to
animosity and projects that get off-track or even relationships
that end. Even just telling someone, 'I'll get back to you' is
better than ignoring him/her.
If you're not the right person to handle an inquiry, pass it on to
the person concerned, rather than ignoring it. Being polite is a
business protocol as well as a sign of efficiency.
I think back on the CEOs I've personally and professionally
known, and been impressed by, and communicated with, and
they were almost always responsive, either personally or they
had their executive assistants communicate.
4. Use WOO
One of the greatest benefits of improved efficiency is that it
frees up your time to seize those opportunities that could come
your way. You're not behind the eight ball, so to speak, so you
are able to immediately respond to a wonderful new opportunity
that could make all the difference in your business or career.
Learn how to recognise those WOOs (Window Of Opportunity)
and you are more likely to see amazing positive improvements in
how much, and what, you are accomplishing.
What WOO experiences are you opening yourself up to, whether
it's through email and social media sites, like Linkedin or Twitter,
or through face-to-face meetings at conferences or introductions
that you facilitate through those you work with or for, or even
your friends and family? Are you promptly and appropriately
following them up?
5. Ask, what do others prefer?
If someone lets you know that they hate phone calls,
respect that. If email is their preference, follow that lead
although of course if you continually use the same method
of communicating and it does not get a response, try
another way, explaining why you're doing it.
6. Get things OTD
You know you're making progress if you're getting projects
OTD (Out the Door). OTD means that something is actually
getting finished and on its way to happening. If you're in
marketing, that means you are actually making the marketing
calls and not just writing up a list of whom you should be
calling...You're not just spinning your wheels or making
promises that something is in development but without
7. Look beyond
Too many of us get stuck in the rut of looking to our own fields for
examples, whether that's publishing companies for writers and
authors, advertising companies for those in advertising... Instead,
stretch yourself and see where it takes you. If you're a sociologist,
consider partnering with a neurologist and see where that might
lead you both. You could also look at other cultures for insights into
different ways of doing things, whether it's someone within your
own country or someone from thousands of miles away.
8. D-O I-T N-O-W
If you have a great idea, do something about it immediately
because the longer you dwell on it and fail to act on it, the
greater the chances it will get out there in the universe and
someone else will do it before you. The same is true for those
projects you know you have to do, for your boss, or for yourself.
That website that needs to be redesigned or even getting a
website up in the first place. That blog you need to commit to
writing every day.
D-O I-T-N-O-W STANDS FOR:
D = Divide and conquer what you have to do. Break big tasks into
little tasks and give each part of that task a realistic deadline.
O = Organise your materials, how you will do it.
I = Ignore interruptions that are annoying distractions.
T = Take the time to learn how to do things yourself.
N = Now, not tomorrow.
O = Opportunity is knocking. Take advantage of opportunities.
W = Watch out for time gobblers. Keep track of, and in control of,
how much time you spend on the Internet, reading and sending
emails, watching TV or talking on the phone.