Optimize Your Productivity for Future Success

Optimize-Your-Productivity-for-Future-SuccessTo-do lists are a mixed bag for me. On one hand, they’re great for getting organized and prioritizing your daily tasks. On the other hand, if you’re not using them properly (like I’ve seen many entrepreneurs do) you run the risk of derailing your entire day.

Luckily, I’m not the only person who thinks this. I read a great article on Forbes that discusses “Organizing Tomorrow Today”. In his article, Jason Selk discusses the many benefits of planning for the future, something I’ve discussed in my previous posts. I encourage you to read the full article, but here are the two most important points I was able to take from it:

Your To-Do List Is Wrong: Like I mentioned, most people tend to make a massive to-do list full of both important and unimportant items. Simply listing off what’s on your plate is a waste of time. Instead, organize your list in terms that makes sense to you. Selk encourages that you list off your top three tasks of the day, followed by lesser tasks. What I do personally is organize my most important tasks of the day, and then group my lesser tasks into a separate category called “end of the week”. Whatever method you use, the main thing to remember is that you have to start off your day with your most important task, instead of tackling the less important items first. Otherwise, you’ll fall into the trap of constantly completing your simple tasks first, and never getting around to actually finishing what matters.

Take The Time To Plan Ahead: Arguably the most important thing that Selk says in his article is that no matter what, take the time to plan ahead. Don’t leave all of your future planning to the morning of said day. Take ten to fifteen minutes the day before to figure out what needs to be done first, what can wait until throughout the week, and what you can delegate. Selk summarizes this point nicely: “Highly successful people do not get everything done each day, not even close. They have learned to get the most important tasks completed, and then to do their best to get the rest done.

All in all, the most successful entrepreneurs know the importance of prioritizing their tasks, and they also know the best method to complete them. Let me know how you tackle your important tasks and we can discuss it in detail in the comments below.

New Year’s Resolutions

With 2014 fast approaching, many of us are already starting to look back on the year that was. Was 2013 the year you had hoped it would be? Did you make the lasting changes you had wanted to this time last year?

I must admit, in general I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I have never made any in my lifetime and it seems to me that people who do use the date as a chance to justify putting off much needed change, such as quitting smoking, going to the gym or eating healthier. The crowded health clubs from the first week of January simmer down to the usual traffic by February 1st, and most of the people who claim to quit smoking for the new year are still puffing away come February.  In fact, I highly recommend turning many of your resolutions into goals that you can focus on during the entire year. Goal setting is much more focused, deliberate and success-driven, and that’s why I find it more effective.

But, having said that, for some strange reason I find myself much more focused this time of year, and upon further reflection I feel that resolutions do have their place. While I consider goals to be measurable accomplishments that are frequently complex and made up of many different mini-goals, resolutions are simpler, behavior-driven activities that typically do not require advanced planning. Resolutions are almost mantra-like, in that they are meant to give you motivation and encouragement as you work at bettering yourself.

For example, a business goal may be to increase profit by 5%, and includes a number of actions from attending more networking events, asking for client referrals, and launching a new marketing campaign. A resolution may be something as simple as: I will respond to all client emails within 12 hours. See the difference?

So in that vein, here are some of the top business resolutions you can make for 2014.

  1. I will think and speak positively each and every day.
  2. I will stop procrastinating and hold myself accountable.
  3. I will do something each day that will force me to get out of my comfort zone.
  4. I will focus on what’s important as opposed to what’s urgent.
  5. I will work harder AND smarter.
  6. I will visit each one of my clients at least once this calendar year.
  7. I will remember why I love what I do.

While these resolutions are meant to give you focus and motivate you for the New Year, they are too simplified to include measures for your success. But you can create goals out of any of these resolutions that truly resonate with you. It’s simply about staying focused and excited about all you’re able to achieve.

Getting the Balance Right

For a lot of young entrepreneurs, balancing work with your life can sometimes be overwhelming. You’re so focused on getting yourself to where you need to be that it’s easy to let everything else fall by the wayside. As an entrepreneur I’ve made a commitment to never use time as an excuse to miss out. The difference between a receptionist and a CEO is time management. The CEO simply knows how to focus time on their top priorities and not get distracted with menial tasks. The bottom line is that busy people get things done.

By organizing your work life, your social life and your love life you can easily find a balance between the three. Figure out where your priorities need to be, then create goals for how to achieve them. You first question should be “are you happy with where you priorities are?” If you’re working long hours, and barely getting home in time to make dinner and head to bed, then your priorities are clearly on work. If you’re missing deadlines and always tired, your focus is probably somewhere else. Start every weekend by looking over your week, and identifying your daily goals. Then each night, break your next day down into an hourly schedule.

For most, the hardest hurdle to overcome is daily time killers such as surfing social media websites, texting, taking several coffee breaks or the dreaded smoke break every hour. These are time wasters and I’ve seen many a dream lost over them. You have to be your own dream’s champion, write down what you want in life, plaster pictures of your dreams all over your cubicle or office and every time you catch yourself procrastinating, look up at that picture of your dream home or car and let it inspire you to get back in the zone. Everyone’s priorities are different, but If you utilize your time better with equal portions of work, life, and love, a successful balance is possible