Are you living in real time or are you trying to catch up? Sometimes, in the quest to catch up with today, overturning some of your time-honored routines can help. For example:
1. Arise one hour earlier
Sixty years ago, the concept of late night (11:00 p.m.) news was unknown. People went to bed at 9:30 or 10:00. Once people began staying up for the late news, the networks began running late night talk shows. As a result, the entire population is staying up later than the previous generation.
Why not go to bed earlier, and wake up an hour earlier? In that extra hour, you can watch the sun rise, meditate, do some exercises, or go to work before traffic gets bad. The activities you undertake in that early hour can affect your perspective on the whole day. To get a fresh perspective, shake up your routine and get up earlier!
2. Work on the porch of your house instead of in the office
When you change your venue and the scenery, you open up new vistas. Alternatively, work under a tree or on the terrace of a local coffee shop during nice weather. Being outdoors opens up a way of viewing things that you cannot get in the office. When working in a natural, tranquil setting, you’ll gain peace of mind in your otherwise hectic work routine. Do this for some of your tasks (especially tasks that require conceptualization or creative thinking, like your weekly review), and you’ll be more productive than ever before.
Begin to identify the places in your life that are welcome retreats to go and work whether they be a library, or even simply sitting in your car in a shopping center parking lot. When you change where you’re working, you can benefit quickly.
3. If possible, process your email only once a week
Postpone tearing through all your mail. Most things are not so urgent that you need to attend to them each day. We often tend to place an unnecessary immediacy upon our lives.
4. If possible, hold your calls for some time
Think of it as if you were on vacation and unable to be reached for a couple of days. You don’t have to respond immediately to every call. When you hold your calls for a few hours – or a day – you open up time to get things done in a way that is impossible when you are preoccupied with answering calls. Work surveys show that the primary disruption and time-waster of the workday is the telephone.
Of course, you don’t want to be inaccessible all of the time, but you can coach those who might call you. Leave a message on your answering system or with your receptionist, for example, saying that you’ll be inaccessible for two days, or until 3:00, or whenever. Thus, you are directing them politely and professionally in a manner that benefits both you and your callers; you will gain a brief respite and they will know when to reach you.
You might want to use a “phone” category in Nozbe when processing all the unanswered calls later on.
5. Drop the unproductive 80 percent of your activities
The Pareto Principle (the “80⁄20” rule) states that 80 percent of your activities contribute to only 20 percent of your results. The remaining 20 percent of your activities contribute to the other 80 percent of your results. Take a hardware store for example: about 20 percent of its stock accounts for 80 percent of the revenues; the remaining 80 percent of the stock accounts for only 20 percent of the revenues.
The key to successful retailing is identifying the 20 percent producing the bulk of the revenues. A smart store manager knows to place that 20 percent where it is most accessible, and to put the rest where, though it can be reached, it is out of the immediate way. Identify which activities in your work (and personal life) support you, and are bringing you the best results. Have the strength to abandon those activities that are not benefitting you – get rid of that unproductive 80 percent.
6. Ask for input
Have you ever gone to lunch with a colleague and begun discussing ways to approach your work more effectively? After a few minutes, you both are deep into the conversation, generating all sorts of great ideas. Then, when the waiter takes your order or brings your check, what occurs? The conversation dies down.
When you both go back to work, those ideas are often forgotten or put on a back burner. If you consciously schedule a meeting for the sole purpose of letting the creative sparks fly, you’ll grab control of your time, and have some of the most productive sessions you’ve ever had.
When you come in contact with other people, you’re exposed to whole new worlds – their worlds. When you interact with another person, you get the benefit of his/her information, in addition to your own.
Always be on the lookout for other ways to shake up your routine for the insights and breakthroughs that might result – every day and every moment holds great potential.
He wrote Breathing Space, Simpler Living, and Dial it Down, Live it Up. Visit BreathingSpace.com or call 919-932-1996 for more information on Jeff’s keynote speeches and seminars, including:
- Managing the Pace with Grace®,
- Achieving Work-Life Balance™,
- Managing Information and Communication Overload®