When its time to call it a day at the end of each shift, we all wish we had completed so and so task during the day, which we had planned out at the beginning, and the day is now finished and we still have priority tasks that are still pending. We have all experienced this, and sometimes end up working late hours to catch up on work.
So how can we plan our day and priorities tasks to ensure that they are accomplished and we meet the deadline set. As when you come into the office next day morning, there’s always things to do, emails to respond to, phone messages to listen to, walk – in clients to deal with, and the internet (biggest distraction) I always used to get caught into this, I would start to surf the internet while I had a full list of tasks to complete, and most of the time hours would pass I would not produce anything.
This is the method I have found useful and most effective:
Firstly what i did was, while I am working on a project or on task whether it be emails, research, projects, I would now give it 100% and off all other distractions, I stopped looking at my inbox every 5 mins, you would be surprised how much more work you can get done, if you stop checking your emails, and phone messages every 5minsor so.
We get in to a bad habit while running a business, as we are under the assumption that all the emails and messages should be replied on the spot as they land in our inbox. To behonest it's just a habit, and nothing more, and by not checking your emails, you will be more focused and concentrated in completing your task.
The other thing I have noticed is when responding to emails, on the spot, also gives your customers the idea that your available 24/7 and they start to expect replies to their emails soon as they send it. Which is not a good thing because when you don't respond to the emails instantly they end up sending another email or a phone call asking "have you received my emails?" – so the first thing to improve your work efficiency is to stop checking emails and phone messages every 5 -10 mins.
Another thing that will also save you time, is once you have read your emails, respond or take action to it straight away, rather than keeping it in your inbox for later. As when you keep your email to check later on, you're going to read it again, which is going to take up your time again to read. This will save you at least 15-30 mins in a day, by not duplicating the same thing again and again.
Internet is a good thing and but also a big distraction at the same time, when not used correctly. It can be a big distraction or addiction which will impact your business, especially when you have tasks to complete. To overcome this, you just need to switch off the internet while you're working on an important task, which does not involve internet usage.
By Switching of the internet you will not get distracted by emails, instant messenger chats, RSS feed updates, and Socail Networking which is one of the main addictions.
Mobiles are also one of the main distractions when you have a dead line project to accomplish. Especially smart phones, which is basically a mini computer, as you have your emails, messages, chat, and much more all at the tip of your figures.
Switching your phone off can also impact your business, as your customers might think, that you've shut down, or disappeared from the surface of this earth :). Below are tips that I do and work very well:
- Put the phone on silent and tuck into a draw
- Divert your calls to someone else, Such as PA, receptionist, friend
- Record a answer message to inform your callers that you're in a meeting or on a task, and will call back soon as your available
- Have an automated text message going out to callers to inform them you will call back later, or something along these lines.
Now you've got rid of the distractions that were delaying you on your task, how would you prioritize which task to complete first.
Things to do list
Have a things to do list, on which you enter all of your tasks that needs to be completed, you can use programs such as Remember The Milk or even a Notebook
(I use both) having your tasks written down somewhere allows you to cross of the tasks as you complete them, and also as you view your things to do list, it will constantly remind you of what needs to be completed and what you have accomplished so far.
Once you have your things to do list, have a look at them, and decide which tasks need to be completed first, and allocate a certain time in your calendar to complete this task. Allocating time and prioritize tasks can be difficult especially if you're doing it the first time, as your unsure of which task to complete first, but the more you do this exercise the better you will get at it. You can always ask your colleagues and partners to assist you in which task needs to be completed first, second and third.
The other way you can monitor how you spending your day, is by opening an excel document, and doing a time entry every 15 mins of what you have done in the past 15 mins, i learnt this from ProBlogger, which I have also found helps me, especially when showing my wife what I have done that day.
By Prioritizing tasks properly you can:
- Reduce stress
- Improve efficiency
- Accomplish more tasks
- Have more quality time for yourself and family
- Achieve self satisfaction
- Meet project deadlines
- Have more happy customers
(Image courtesy of Trevor Manternach's photostream under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)