Do you reach the end of the day and think, ‘what have I actually done today?’ It’s easy to be busy all day, but it’s not so easy to be as productive. If you use a time-tracker you might see that your productive hours aren’t meeting your expectations given how long you’ve been working! So, the question is, where does your time really go?
High Pay Off Activities (one of my favourite phrases!) are those things that you have to focus on for the development of your business without distraction. If you have clarity on these HPA’s then you will find your time less hijacked as the distractions and interruptions become more obvious.
I suggest a simple tool that shows you what you may be getting distracted by during the day so you can identify solutions as to how to prevent that happening, or at least identify the distractions that are causing the most amount of time lost and taking your focus off those HPA’s.
It’s a list…
The interruptions and distractions log
Take one piece of lined paper and draw a line down the middle. At the top of the left-hand side, write Who? And on the top of the right-hand side, write Why? You might also like to add a smaller third column for day/time to help identify when you’re most interrupted – could it be first thing in the morning, after lunch, or after school for example?
You’ll see who distracts you the most and you can manage that person with a plan. You will also see the most common reasons why and you can reflect on what needs to change to avoid a distraction in the future. Is it permission or authority? Is it something you don’t need to be involved with? Is it something that in hindsight you’ve encouraged?
If you keep this log for a few weeks, let’s say four or five, you’ll begin to establish a pattern, and once you have a pattern you can look at ways to disrupt it.
TIP: Try introducing ‘stand-up’ meetings for the team to share their needs or intentions for the day/afternoon. Standing up prevents people from getting too comfortable and feeling like it could be a longer meeting.
Further tips for disrupting the interruption pattern could be shutting your office door at times you know you’re most productive or most distractable, turn off notifications, silence the phone, set up auto responders on emails explaining that you will respond within a set time of the day.
Additionally trust in your delegation or outsourcing. Really you cannot do everything!
Poet, Edward Young said, “Procrastination is the thief of time” and it’s a saying that resonates with everyone. Are you putting off doing something, rather than being distracted? Are you the one who is interrupting your own day?
We all procrastinate (including me) but we should all aim to keep the times when we do to a minimum.
Procrastination can be down to the lack of clarity of your direction or the plan. Therefore you can procrastinate over the right course of action to take or the execution of an activity. However, with a clear vision, goal or objective you can reduce your temptation to avoid doing one task in favour of another by asking yourself whether it moves you closer to your vision. If not, often you can chalk it up as a distraction.
We get around procrastination with two main techniques:
- Keeping our goals in mind – What do you want to achieve, is it achievable, when do you want to achieve it by?
- Accountability – What is the consequence of not achieving your goals, are you accountable to anyone else? Is anyone else depending on you?
TIP: Spending one minute planning your day can save you five minutes. One hour of planning your week can save you around a day!
Personally I journal every day reflecting on my outcomes and considering what I could do differently and how I can be a better version of myself tomorrow. I also meticulously plan my diary, so that there is minimal room for distractions, a flow to my week and a focus on my high pay-off activities.
A brilliant tool for keeping your goals in mind is both simple and beautiful…
The vision board
Display your longest-term goal, and your short-term goals in one place, or on two boards, make them your desktop background or stick them up somewhere you will see them every day. Talk about them, share your desires, wants and needs with friends, family and networks, put them out into the universe – whatever works for you, keeping your goals in focus will help prevent procrastination.
TIP: If you speak at events don’t put your vision board as the wallpaper on your laptop. It is a great reminder each day, but in 2009 I shared mine with a room of people during setting up!
At the end of the day, having the right mindset to work effectively without distraction or procrastinating over a task is what will give you back your time. Are you ready to do business?
The basic principles of effective time management in business are:
- Don’t put more hours in, but make the ones you have more effective
- Know the value of your time
- Be clear on your goals
- Plan short-term and long-term goals and activities to meet them
- Log your activity when you feel less productive
- Practice repetitive actions to create positive habits
- Identify your ‘prime time’ of the day and use it wisely
- Avoid meeting for a meeting’s sake
- Organise your workspace
- Deploy a Not-To-Do list!
To delve deeper into these principles, my Online Business Development Programme is available at only £279 lifetime access (or four instalments), but I sincerely hope that for now, these tips will aid you to have a more productive day and maybe, find that extra day in the week!
Further reading you may be interested in:
Eat that Frog! Get More of the Important Things Done Today, by Brian Tracy