Holidays are now behind, and we are starting the year full of ideas, resolutions and of course, pending tasks. How to improve your productivity to get everything done in 2018?
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We are already in 2018! Surely, you wonder if you are going to get everything done as planned, or it’s the day to day rush will hunt you again. It’s even year, so I have a lot of faith we are going to accomplish so much! But don’t just wait to be lucky, let’s do something else. Let’s do a “reset & reorg” to make luck happen.
The accumulation of papers, pending work, digital files and general disorganization has a noticeable impact on your productivity and attitude towards work. So, to start on the right foot, I recommend that you save your first days to reflect, eliminate what is not going to be useful, and make sure you start new.
1) Be Organized
Plan your first week of 2018 TODAY, if you have not done it yet. Use an agenda or better yet, Google calendar, which allows you to schedule meetings from your cell phone or your laptop, you can share it with your work team or your family, and synchronize it with YoucanBookme so your customers can see it and schedule meetings themselves.
Be sure to assign the following activities in that week:
a) Daily work: Weekly and recurrent activities: such as group meetings, events, tasks such as reviewing documents, writing a blog or posting on social networks. This way you make sure you have time for your base work every week, and you don’t fall behind schedule frequently. You should decide beforehand even what time you are going to get up and what time you are going to bed. When I have weekly clients, for example, I always try to assign them the same day and the same time, so I assure myself in my calendar that I can always meet my ongoing commitments. Before having new clients, you must first take care of the current ones, they are like gold to you.
b) Strategic Work: Leave a time lot for “strategic thinking”, those things that only you can define within your company, such as where you would like to be in 5 years. A half day a week at least at the beginning to define and monitor your long-term goals, such as thinking about potential clients, reviewing your weekly plan and developing new products should be OK. Today before the end of the day, get ready to define your 5 most important goals of the year and have them visible at all times throughout 2018.
c) Extras: Of course there will always be new meetings, extra activities and new clients, so save yourself some “buffer” hours to be able to do the extra without having to postpone the daily work. In case you do not have room for extras, I recommend reviewing your daily tasks to delegate some to another person or hire a third party.
d) Relax: You should also include in your calendar those activities that you relegated last year (such as gym, yoga or visits to friends) that can be useful to maintain your focus and physical condition, or simply to relax your week.
2) Eliminate the unnecessary
Start the year fresh, with a clear mind to meet your daily and strategic objectives. In order to do that, you need to free up your workspace: your desk, your office, your store. Save yourself a space in your agenda to observe around you, the place where you spend more time in your life, and begin to seriously get rid of what you don’t need any more: documentation already paid or approved, old clothes, too many supplies (are you sure you need those 5 pens on your desk?). Even take your computer and your phone, transfer those 2017 pictures to another drive and leave space for your 2018 holidays. Relocate what does not apply to your workspace, file those documents you don’t need now, donate or sell all the rest.
3) Define a regular physical and digital cleaning schedule
Make sure that there are no unused files on the desktop of your computer, only those that are in progress. Check there are no files outside folders, unread emails, or stuff with no pre-assigned place. Whatever is out of place, just generates disorganization and the places look untidy. Eliminate sources of dirt, such as drawers with food, open windows, used coffee mugs and cookies. If you allow them, use plates to contain small pieces, have garbage cans on hand and make sure to have disinfecting wipes in every room. Define clearly (clearly means with a written document, picture or calendar) how to clean your workplace: who should do it, when and how. It is a way of preventing important papers from being in a bad condition; reduce allergies; keep tools and appliances that you use daily in good condition; and finally, it is a way to transform your workspace into a pleasant place for you, your employees or your clients.
If your first ideal week was a success, why not bet on having a year full of ideal weeks? Do the same process of organizing, eliminating and cleaning every week. At first, it may look like you are spending too much time on “housekeeping”. But, from my personal experience, once it is part of your daily routine, you will have improved 100% your productivity, that is, your ability to meet your own objectives. Repeat, repeat and repeat again and again what worked that week, or just make adjustments as needed it until it’s ideal for YOU. Optimize your day to day processes, and standardize them. Always do them the same way, so that regular stuff is never left behind or undone. Help yourself by using pictures, posters, calendars or colors as reminders and to organizers. Visual aids are very important for your brain to quickly know what to do first. If there is such a mess that you cannot even find your phone, the brain only thinks about cleaning. That generates frustration because now you are so busy! Reduce your frustration by making sure you never get to that level of mess again. Hide your inactive clients and highlight the potential ones, assign a space for pending work, use the calendar, write a list or use the Asana app to remind you what tasks you have to complete each day. Paint your calendar with different colors according to the type of activity and turn on reminders and alarms to help you follow up the new schedule.
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5) Get automated
One more step towards standardization is directly automating tasks. The more you can reduce your manual work or that of your employees, the better. You will not only save time but also reduce the possibility of making mistakes. For example, instead of manually uploading your expenses, always use your business credit card. They can be automatically downloaded to your scorecard by using apps like Quickbooks, which allow you to take that information in a few seconds. When you send invoices to your clients, send them with a payment link, or generate a template that already includes the data of your bank account. Offer your customers the possibility of buying your products or scheduling meetings just with a click on your page. The fewer steps in each process, the fewer emails or answers from your side. The more efficient your day-to-day and easier money is made.
6) Monitor daily
How your operational and strategic goals are going is crucial to monitor your performance. New clients, new businesses, new ideas, your business profit and loss. A housekeeping day is not enough to be efficient throughout the entire year. Make sure your improvement is sustained. You need to periodically review if you are meeting your objectives. I do a daily review of my tasks in Asana and re-schedule the ones I couldn’t do. At the end of the month, I check if I am meeting my strategic objectives and define action plans to make adjustments to what did not work.
The most important thing about this last tip is to have the self-discipline not to drop your system. You need to follow the 6 steps at all times, no matter what. Stick to your new productivity schedule and you will be able to significantly improve your ability to meet objectives, tasks, and meetings in 2018. All the best, and happy new year!!
Founder of Biztorming Training & Consulting