Take 5 minutes out to read and action this blog!
1. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR EMAIL
Hands up if you get distracted every time an email comes in. You have the little alert set don’t you!
Dare to turn it off!
So this first one should be obvious:
Set aside specific times to read emails rather than responding to each and every notification, allowing it to interrupt concentrated spells of work .
Create VIP notifications for those people whose emails you attend to more quickly
Keep your email messages short and you will see that others are relived as they can copy your conciseness
Don’t have dozens of email folders – keep your subjects broad. Most email system have excellent search facilities to find exactly what you are looking for.
Don’t reply – Pick up the phone – it’s more personal and will often solve the problem more quickly and definitively. By all means send a short confirmation of the call afterwards to help keep things on track.
2. DON’T BE A BUSY FOOL
It’s great to be busy – as long as the activity is focused and valid.
Don’t let “little things distract you. It’s usually a sign that business is going well – but no one wants to be a busy fool! It’s impossible to address every task and idea as and when they pop into your head, which is something we tend to learn only through experience. Organisation, clarity of thought, focus and self-discipline are essential if you want to achieve your goals while remaining sane.
Plan, write things down, prioritise, delegate and don’t make time for the tedious jobs you tend to put off. The better you are at organising yourself and your commitments, the more you’ll achieve. And the less likely you are to become overwhelmed.
Put everything in your diary, and only do what is in your diary.
This sounds much tougher than it is. Don’t fill every minute of every day in advance – leave at least an hour “free” to allow for phone calls and the like.
Consider setting aside some time in the early mornings to plan the day ahead and review what’s in the dairy. If you are a morning person, put your toughest task in then, so you can eat that frog and get on with having a productive day after.
If something comes up – choose to “bump” something less important to another day, or better still, put the new item into your next empty slot.
I keep Friday afternoons empty for two reasons – it is the buffer for tasks that get bumped, so I know they will get done and the bonus is that if I have a good week – I can finish early on a Friday and bring the weekedn forward.
I prefer early starts as the interruptions are always few and far between, so I get so much more done. This allows me to work in peace without and even get ahead of schedule so that I get to enjoy family time without worrying about what hasn’t been done.
3. SET SOME TIME ASIDE
We all need time to think.
Apparently Henry Ford once said: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” In the days of Leather-bound filofaxes the wisdom was to have meetings with yourself.
At least once a week, devote some time in your diary to “thinking”. Allow your brain’s hidden to-do lists to emerge and you will see the wood from the trees. Doing this for a concentrated couple of hours is a great investment – it will save you time, help you form strategies which reduces your stress and generally make the rest of your week much easier.
And remember to put it in your diary.
4. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
We know this is true. How often have you heard: “If you eat rubbish, you’ll feel it” or the opposite: “If you eat well you feel good”. Always give yourself a few minutes to have a healthy breakfast – ideally at home, or if that really won’t work, prepare a healthy breakfast the night before. to take to work, such as a low-fat yoghurt with some fresh fruit, and put it in the fridge – not your drawer – when you arrive. Avoid snatching some highly processed snack on the way in. If you work through lunch, make sure to have a supply of high-energy foods, such as almonds and apples or bananas and cheese chunks, handy. Again avoid highly processed snack bars unless you really know what is in them.
5. GET MORE SLEEP
Ok, let’s be blunt here – if you are out on the town, and get to bed at 3am, and get up at 7, you know how you will feel the next day: CRAP. If you do it more gradually, the net effect will be the same. You can claim “that you get used to it” but really? Think how much better you feel on a good holiday.
“It’s estimated sleep deprivation costs the UK over £40bn with more than 200,000 lost working days each year, with the number going up. The biggest improvements can be made by those who are sleeping less than six hours a night changing to at least 7, preferably 8. Tired workers are less productive, more accident-prone, (which can be mental as well as physical – a bad decision can have many outcomes), they take more time off through stress and are less healthy.
See if your employer has an employee health or well-being programme, or if you are the boss, create one. The payback will be enormous.
6. DELEGATE SUCCESSFULLY
Only do, what only you can do
Often, we do too much. Yes, we all say “no-one can do it as well/quickly as I can” and yes, there things that you should do and I’m not suggesting that you delegate everything, but you can delegate a lot of things in a way that ensures they get done, and done to a high standard, even though you do not do it yourself.
Good delegation involves asking and “showing how” the other person can take on the task and be successful. That way they feel appreciated and will do a good job, and will keep on doing the “new” task if given a little thanks and genuine praise. By clearly defining roles and responsibilities in your business it becomes obvious who should be doing what it becomes an easier conversation once people understand what’s really on their plate, thus avoiding you having to “clear-up after people”