I have been thinking for awhile (okay, make that procrastinating) that I haven’t been as productive as I could like to be in my work day. This is especially important as I am working from home on my business so there is no one that I need to be accountable to at the end of each day.
I am an extremely organised person (some might say excessively so…) so I
keep a long to do list of what I have to do each week. However, I noticed something strange happening recently. Whenever I looked at my to do list I felt my motivation being sucked out of me and I began questioning the worth of these tasks and rearranging the order of my tasks to what I felt like doing at that moment rather than what most needed to be done. In order words I had lost sight of my goals and instead allowed myself to get bogged down in the detail.
This is a great way for a business to fail completely so I knew that I had to create a different way of working.
As luck would have it I was recently reminded of the tools that Stephen Covey wrote about in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, to organise your time. The chapter on Habit 3 (Put First Things First) begins:
“Things which matter most
must never be at the mercy of things that matter least”
I knew I was in the right spot. What I like most about this chapter is that it isn’t about time management, which I find can feel too restrictive, rather it’s about managing ourselves. Instead of focusing on time and things it’s a case of focussing on preserving and enhancing relationships and on accomplishing results.
Now to get the most out of Stephen Covey’s tools it does pay to read his whole book (I sense a book review coming up…), however I really wanted to learn more about managing myself at work right now.
Stephen encourages you to plan on a weekly rather than a daily basis to ensure that each of your priorities is given the time they need,
“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
The first step is to write down your key roles in life. I took a blank set of paper and wrote Health/Exercise, Coach, Creator of LearnDiscoverBeFree, Other Internet Marketing, Individual/Personal Development and Friend/Family Member (fun is a priority too!). I can see myself splitting these roles down further as I get used to working this way.
The second step is to think of 2 or 3 important results you want to accomplish for each role in the next week. These are your goals.
The third step is to schedule time in your week to achieve your goals. Ideally you will be putting in a block of time on a particular day(s) to spend on your goals; an appointment with yourself. One thing you want to avoid is filling up all of your week with activities as this leaves you with no unscheduled time to freely shift appointments if you need to or to enjoy spontaneous experiences.
One other tip that I’ve found useful is to only have on your desk what you need for your current task. I found this essential when I was working as a corporate lawyer as I could’ve easily swamped my desk with paper and constantly distracted myself by the piles of files on my desk and what else I still had to do. This is also a handy way to reduce your stress levels.