There are ways to accomplish what you need to do without spending hours and hours at the office or taking work home. Sometimes you just need to stop and consider what is important and what is not. Since you are a busy CEO we will cut to the chase and offer these tips on making the most out of your day without sacrificing your life.
1) Pursue Healthy Habits
Without the right amount of sleep and exercise coupled with a good diet, your body and brain simply can’t function productively. It’s easy to think you don’t have the time but when you apply the rest of these tips you will.
The latest studies show that 7 hours of sleep a night is optimal for most people. And take 5 minutes a couple of times a day to just walk around or up and down stairs and you will be better off than you are now.
Meals high in fat tend to drag you down but too little fat will leave you feeling hungry. Snacking on nuts, fruits, and vegetables will help power your brain instead of making you want to snooze.
2) Get Organized
How much time do you spend looking for things on your desk or on your computer? Create a system to organize important papers, emails, documents and tools for getting your work done. Today’s email programs come with tools to color code, flag, and create folders for email. If you work with physical documents, color coding your files may help you locate them faster.
As you use the system, it will become a habit which is another way to become more efficient at work. Whatever it is you do the most, make it into a habit rather than an individual task to be completed.
If you have related projects, batch them and do them consecutively; these types of projects generally take the same brain paths and tools. Batching them keeps inefficient multi-tasking to a minimum.
3) Make a List
To keep you from processing your to-do list endlessly in your head write down everything that must be done, putting the priority items first. Now, do each task one at a time and focus on completing one task before beginning another. This ensures the important stuff gets done each day.
Another tip is to assign the amount of time you will take to get each task completed. If some tasks can wait a few hours or days, write that into the schedule. By eliminating unneeded mental processing and relieving yourself of the feeling that everything must be done today you will be less stressed and better able to handle the workload.
4) Schedule Productive Time
Determine what time of day you are the most productive and schedule that to be the time you do not accept phone calls, respond to emails, or answer questions. Close your door and make sure everyone knows that, unless the building is on fire, you are not to be disturbed.
Now you can focus on those priority items that must be completed and you don’t have to worry about interruptions. A caveat: this means you have to train yourself to ignore the phone and email notifications. Turn off the ringers and sounds if you can.
5) Make Processes More Efficient
Sometimes extra steps sneak into processes and procedures over time. Take a close look at yours to see if there are unneeded actions, ways to do tasks concurrently, and to get rid of activities that don’t drive the project to completion.
The best way to accomplish this is to write down the workflow and scrutinize each step. Ask yourself and your team if this step is necessary. It may have been at one time but new tools have eliminated the need for it.
6) Eliminate Procrastination and Perfectionism
Are you a professional procrastinator? It is so easy to put things off until later. Well, as Nike always says, “Just do it.” Be firm with yourself and just get going. If you have to, think of the pile of work you are making for tomorrow.
Maybe you are a perfectionist. You can’t bear to let anything go out the door until it’s in absolutely 100% tip top shape. The thing is, not much in this world has to be perfect. It just has to be good enough. You can’t really reach perfection so don’t waste time trying.
7) Be Decisive
Remember the organizational adage of handling everything once? It applies here. Along with not procrastinating, you need to learn to be decisive about the actions you need to take. Handling an email once won’t save time if you sit there for five minutes going back and forth over what to do with it.
Being decisive also goes a long way towards being able to say no.
- No to added work without benefit
- No to unneeded meetings
- No to long phone calls
- No to things that disrupt
8) Leave Room to Breathe
As you schedule your day leave a buffer between tasks, some time to take a deep breath and rest your thoughts. Look out the window or just walk around the office. Put your feet up for a few minutes and glory in the feeling that, for that moment, you have nothing to do.
9) Avoid Time Sucks
That game of Angry Birds, the time spent on Facebook, those mindless TV shows: all of these can suck away productive time if you let them. There is nothing wrong with the occasional break to do mindless things or catch up with friends. Just schedule it like you would anything else. When time’s up, stop and go back to work.
You can use any or all of these tips to shave hours of unproductive time from your day. You will be surprised at what you don’t miss doing.