I took Laura Stack’s on-line 8 week “Accelerate Your Productivity” course. I have training goals for work and I like to revisit time management every 5 years. Much of this seemed logical to me, but I needed to be reminded to do it. Other things I always felt they were pie in the sky ideas. I decided to apply as much of her course as possible and share tips with my boss.
This course is very affordable for the amount of information and tips you get from it. You also are expected to apply it through the course so you can see how it works as you go. Here is the link to her site so you can check out all her courses and blog posts.
She starts with determining what your capture style is. Do you capture information, ideas, tasks, appointments electronically or on paper? I am a hybrid. Some things I prefer to write down because it helps me remember it, or helps me to focus on my task or in a meeting.
A good capture tool should always be available, you use it consistently, easy and quick to use, suits your personality.
She refers to a great article on The 20 Best Online To Do List Apps. This is a must read.
The key it to track all your the things you need to do in one place, personal and work to avoid conflicts. I choose Outlook as my tool. Make a list of everything you need to do then prioritize them by: things that eventually need to be done; things that have a due date, but are not due today; the things you must do today.
She discusses the use of tasks and your calendar to handle everything as it comes into your inbox. The key is to prioritize or do something with each item so you only touch the email once before either do it, file it , delete it, or set a start date to do it.
My 3 favorite email best practices tips are:
- Use the signature option to insert standard responses to emails, or monthly, quarterly or annual emails that only require minor adjustments.
- Use the “Ignore” for irrelevant reply all strings
- Use the “Clean up conversation” to eliminate redundant messages.
Also, schedule everything!!
- Quiet time
- Interruptions – When someone comes in you schedule a time that is better for you so you can maintain focus
- Do priority tasks during your prime time of day. (when you are most productive.)
Something I have used for a while:
- If I didn’t do this at all would anyone notice?
- Is this providing ultimate value to my customer, or is it just an internal process with no value?
I used to plan my day in the morning, but that eats up a good portion of my most productive time. Laura discusses why planning your next day before you leave work. This has been a very helpful change in my behavior. The benefits include:
- Reduce Insomnia
- Avoid Reacting
- Enjoy Family time
- Anticipate failure
- Execute Efficiently
- Lower Stress
This is just a small part of what she covers in her course. Laura is an interesting and effective trainer and speaker. I highly recommend visiting her site and trying her courses or subscribing to her blog.
The pie in the sky item is saying “No” to meetings. where I work now it is not acceptable. However, my personal experience is that many meetings could have been an email or phone call. I do recommend asking yourself before having a meeting “Is this a meeting or an email?” I find most meetings are just big time suckers.
Brenda the Brave