What little tips and tricks do you use to try and be as productive as possible each week plus be as motivated as possible? Here are a few I use:
I will schedule meetings that normally would be an automatic one hour for just 45 minutes and then stick to that. Rarely do I feel like there's any impact on the outcome because of the shorter time. And if it's really important, we'll extend if necessary. I also frequently schedule 15 minute meetings in place of a half hour. Everyone knows in advance so we don't waste time. We get in the meeting and get rolling.
I try to be the one in a meeting who pushes to keep it on track even if someone else is running it. If we're rat holing or just wasting a bunch of time I will speak up.
I do a weekly status report. What am I going to accomplish this week, what did I complete last week, what are the key blockers. I'm competitive so I really push hard each week to complete what I said I would get done. And I feel held accountable by it so I want to complete a lot to write up. Plus it helps me to take a few minutes to review what I accomplished the previous week and see if I really did things of value and see where I was wasting time. This can be sent to a boss or if you don't have one, perhaps send it to a friend who's willing to look at it. Or just send it to yourself.
A variation of that last one is just to write down what I do each day. A buddy of mine had lost his motivation at his sales job. I suggested he just write down each day what he did and that small little trick really turned it around for him, as crazy as that might sound.
I try and do email just every three hours although I'm failing at that so far. It does feel good when I stick to it.
www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_88.htm -- An interesting time management evaluation test I found.
My "to do" list is organized by Urgent - ASAP - This Week - Next Week - Out. The urgent bucket can't have more than 2 items in it. The ASAP can't have more than 3.
I try to focus on one task/project at a time. I think I'm a pretty good multi-tasker but I'm finding more and more it just works better to focus on one thing at a time and get it done.
I try to manage interruptions. IM, people popping in my office, etc. I'm never rude but I often ask if it's okay if I reply a little later. I don't say it but it's at a point that works best for me.
I try to pick up the phone and actually use it if I've gotten into an email thread or IM thread that seems to be going on and on. Talk directly to get whatever it is figured out and move on.
I'm a note taker. I'll think of something, write it on a scrap of paper, get a big pile of scraps of paper then incorporate it into my to do list. The list gets huge. A couple times a week I'll be brutal with my list, thinking about whether it's really important or not, what I can chop, what should be delegated to someone else. Have to be ruthless on this to chop the "nice to do's" from the "have to do's".
Certain projects I'll plug into my calendar, especially when I seem to be spinning my wheels. And sometimes I'll ask someone to spend time with me to help me get it done. For example, I've been struggling to re-do a messaging platform right now. It's dragged on and on. So I scheduled a meeting for this Monday afternoon with one other person who would be involved in finalizing this anyway. Since this meeting is happening, I have to get all my preparation done so it will be a productive meeting. And my plan is to complete the task during the meeting so no more wasting time spinning around on it. Monday night this will be done, finally.
Just decide. Sometimes I go in and out, around and around about a decision or an edit or finalization of some deliverable. I'm a huge believer in the small details and trying to get things right but at some point I try to have a little flag go off in my brain that says - just make a decision or finalize what I'm doing and move on. The law of diminishing returns is very true.
There are times when I am very productive, meaning I'm cranking and cranking things out. That's good but I try and schedule breaks to clear the brain and stay fresh.
What else? I'd love to hear suggestions from others that I might use.