How productive are you?

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*by Andrew Horton

John wakes up at 7am every day and immediately switches on the radio, filling his brain with all sorts of random input. He drives off to work with the radio blaring in the background. This allows him to stay tuned out of his day and distracts him from thinking about what he needs to accomplish.

When he arrives at the office he makes a cup of coffee, and spends 20 minutes chatting before heading to his desk and switching on his PC. The first thing he tackles are his emails, which take up a lot of his time, but accomplishes little. The rest of the day is spent in overwhelm and distraction, where he spends most of his time reacting to random emails or other issues that pop up. John has an “open-door” policy, so staff members interrupt him throughout the day, making it difficult to focus on priority tasks for very long. He gets to the end of another day exhausted, having achieved very little.

TIME TO PLAN

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Do you know someone like this, or maybe you are a little like John? A few simple changes will help you become more productive and achieve what you want to in your business day:

Learn every day

Consistent learning and growth is crucial for your personal growth as well as for the growth of your business. To do this you could read an educational or inspirational book for just 15 minutes every day. Or, rather than wasting the time spent commuting to and from work, listen to an informative CD. Time is your most valuable possession, invest yours wisely. These simple changes to your routine could impact your performance profoundly.

Exercise

By introducing a simple daily habit of exercising for 30 minutes every morning, you not only feel more energised, but you build better health and vigour. The better your health, the more energy you will have every day to carry out your priority activities.

Plan your day

Start your day running with a very clear picture of what your priority activities are – those that generate revenue for your business – and how and when you will tackle them.

Tackle the priorities first

Plan your day and set aside time slots to tackle priority tasks. These are goal specific activities, which you need to carry out every day in order to achieve your aims. These are crucial time slots where you close your door and focus. When you meet with an important client, you don’t allow distractions. Treat the time when you focus on your priority tasks in the same way. You will be amazed at just how much more productive you become. Focus with dogged determination and stay focused on getting everything you have planned done during this time slot. Over time this discipline will see you become a whole lot more productive during a working day.

Plan your email activity

During your planning session, set aside time to read your emails; those that have real value and meaning to the business. Schedule this for around 10am, once your day is working and on track. Don’t Reply All or BCC anyone and everyone in on your emails; it’s an interruption they don’t need. Ask them to do the same, and you will limit the number of “useless” mails that come your way and distract you. Far too much time is spent reading unnecessary emails that mean nothing to you. Be ruthless with how you ignore and delete emails.

TIME TO GET PRODUCTIVE

Break your day into 90-minute segments. During each segment, prioritise and focus 100% on the task at hand. After each 90-minute segment of empowered activity, allow for a five-minute break. This is an opportunity to recharge your batteries and to prepare for the next 90 minutes of activity. Engaging in regular rest periods may seem like a waste of time, but doing this consistently will allow you to keep your energy levels up and actually be more productive.

TIME TO SWITCH OFF

Switch off at the end of your working day. Allow yourself to focus all your energy on a hobby or quality time with your family. This is a crucial part of your success routine. Allow yourself a rest day, which consists of a minimum of 24 consecutive hours of total rest and recreation. My rest day starts on a Saturday at 12pm and runs through to Sunday at 12pm. During this time, don’t think about any work-related issues at all, just rest and allow your energy levels to regenerate.

You can add many more productive hours to your day, if you apply any or all of these tips. Your future success is dependent on the number of priority activities you manage to complete in a day. Add a few productive hours into your schedule, and you will most certainly see the impact on your bottom line.

*Andrew Horton is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, time management expert and author. He also hosts the TV series The Empower Half Hour. Visit: www.andrewhorton.co.za.


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