I can’t remember where that quote came from, but I often remember it when things get busy. One of the best ways to be incredibly productive is to put some focused work into the project at hand – big or small – until you complete it or come to a pre-determined stopping point. Switching from task to task will cause a person to come to the end of the day wondering what they accomplished. Deadlines will slip by, emails will remain half composed and items are your to-do list will be incomplete.
One small accomplishment after the next is what really makes the day productive. How do we stay on focused on one thing at a time? Here are some thoughts:
1) Habits of Review: Make a discipline of reviewing your day. You will begin to discover how much you really get done when you are focused on each task. Review your week and think about what has been accomplished.
2) Automate: What can you put into place so that you don’t have to deal with it any more? I typically set emails to send out before they are due to go. I do the same with Twitter and Facebook posts. It takes some time up front to learn the automation techiniques that work for you, but it’s worth it in the long run.
3) Delegate: What can you delegate? One of your tasks may need to be spending time handing things off to others around you? When I hear this, I always wonder who to delegate to? It’s just me working on this stuff! Well, just recently I delegated a project to someone I’ve never even met through fiverr.com. People on this site will do specific graphic tasks for $5. Here’s an example of what resulted from this act of delegation.
4) Schedule Less: Don’t fill up your schedule to the max. Leave a percentage of time to take care of unexpected. You will find, as you focus on one task at a time, with a focused approach, that you will actually wind up with more time in the long run. When your day is only 70-80% scheduled, you’re free to deal with important things as they come up.
5) Be Efficient: There are times when you can “kill two birds with one stone”. Listen to audio books while running errands, podcasts while mowing the lawn, and a number of other things that allow you make mundane tasks more beneficial.
6) Keep Good Notes: Have you ever forgotten where you left off? Forgotten what someone said? Forgotten the start time? It’s important to take good notes. When you are involved in a conversation or a meeting, engage fully. Take notes on what others are saying. Steer clear of doing other things during a meeting such as checking email or texting others. This will derail your leadership and teamwork. Taking notes, however, will help raise your level of leadership – holding team members accountable, keeping track of details and staying sharper during conversations. If you’re interested in more on this, Michael Hyatt has a great podcast on the Lost Art of Note Taking.
7) The One Thing: What’s the one thing you have to finish today? Focus on doing the one main thing first. It’s a good way to start. If you’re in the habit of running from here to there with no time to breathe, decide tomorrow will be different. Plan on specific project or task and the pre-determined time block in which you will complete it. Once you finish that task, you can then carry on running from here to there. You will be pleasantly surprised at how the focus on one project will be both motivating and addicting.
Are you completely finished reading this post? Great. Good job focusing. Here are a few others you may enjoy.
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Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Col 4:5