When it comes to the work you do every day, what are the things that truly only you can do because they are an extension of your unique gifts and abilities? These are the things worth organizing your day – and your life— around.
Beyond these genuinely unique contributions, daily work-related tasks and responsibilities generally fall into the four categories described below. The key to discovering your productivity patterns is to identify what tasks you spend your time on and then organize and plan them in a way that allows you to make the most of your time. When you do, you’ll find that you are able to get more work done in a shorter amount of time, and your sense of accomplishment and satisfaction of a job well done will grow.
Time Sensitive Tasks
These are things that have to be taken care of at a specified day and time. For example, if you scheduled a visit for your annual checkup six months ago, this is an appointment you need to keep. Likewise, if you have a meeting with your accountant, be sure you are available and ready to meet at the agreed upon time.
The time to ‘take control’ of your appointments is when you make them. Rather than accept the first appointment time offered or the first meeting date suggested, make sure that the proposed date and time is convenient for you before you commit.
You can even plan ahead to batch some of these necessary appointments. Those of you who know me and read my blog know how extremely important I think this is. For example, if you have to meet with a client on site (across town), what else can you schedule ahead of time to do before or after the meeting while you’re in the area?
These are things that require and benefit from the participation of others. From team conference calls and strategy sessions to performance reviews and mentoring sessions, collaborative tasks involve you interacting with other people. In a larger work environment, you might already know that these people-friendly tasks can burn up the clock like nobody’s business. On the flip side, if your business is primarily you and you alone, you might be tempted to gloss over this category, but don’t forget about client meetings, client calls, and oh, did I mention meeting with clients?
You can do your part when you’re involved in the milieu of group scheduling to be clear about when you are available. Be specific and be bold. For example, if you know that a 2:00 pm call on Wednesday would be best for you, go ahead and throw it out there and ask if that works for those who are an essential part of the meeting.
Believe it or not, many of those endless scheduling marathons are simply the result on no one proposing a specific day and time! Your time and the time of those you are meeting with is precious—use it wisely.
Today’s competitive marketplace requires everyone to be creative and think original thoughts. Effectively scheduling this category of tasks involves not only knowing when and how you are most creative, it involves respecting that knowledge enough to use it.
To illustrate this point, an acquaintance of mine who happens to be a writer knows that there is predictably one particular week of the month when she is at the top of her game in terms of creativity. Ideas come easily, words flow like lava, and her energy level greatly surpasses any other average week for her. She admits that when she’s smart, she keeps this in mind when creating deadlines for herself and her clients. Of course, this doesn’t mean she’s off the hook the other three weeks of the month, it simply means that she knows she should reserve particularly challenging creative tasks for that week whenever possible.
Would Rather Get a Root Canal Tasks
Even after you’ve delegated and you’ve shucked and you’ve procrastinated, there are tasks you need to do, but simply don’t enjoy very much. It’s perfectly normal, but you still need to get them done. If you haven’t already, figure out what works to motivate you to accomplish the tasks you don’t look forward to. For some people, it’s the satisfaction of being able to cross them off a written list. For others, it’s a modest reward (an iced coffee, etc.). For me, it’s a ‘V’ in my Victory Column. Hey, whatever works!
Ready to Put Your Productivity Patterns into Practice?
Begin by keeping a simple task log for the next 3 days. Write down the things you spend your time on. You can use the categories just described as a starting point. Depending on your work, you may readily identify others. If not, keep jotting down tasks and then look for patterns.
Once you’ve captured your tasks and categorized them accordingly, consider how you can batch them for efficiency. For example, if you’re not a morning person, make sure to reserve afternoons for your collaborative tasks. If you know you are restless in your normal work setting on a particular day of the week, consider making that day your appointment day. The possibilities are endless, as is your potential when you focus on the little things that matter.
Let me know your thoughts and share with us, because you just may learn something new… 🙂