Being a Lean expert, I am always obsessively spotting inefficiencies everywhere! While it can be to my own detriment, the good thing is that I’m always trying to think about how I can be more efficient. This lets me manage all the things I need to do, such as running two businesses, being a treasurer for a not for profit, investing in property, writing a book, helping my husband on his 1000 herd dairy farm, renovating etc.
So here are the 8 things which I do to better manage my time and increase productivity:
1. Synchronised Outlook
Having my email accounts connected via exchange on all my devices (iPhone, iPad and Mac – yes I am a Apple fan) is essential for me to be flexible and connected no matter where I am. This way I can type emails during what I call non-value add times for example while waiting in a queue, waiting for a flight, sitting in the car.
2. Electronic calendar with categorisation
This is a must – everything I do goes in my Outlook calendar and is synchronised across all my devices. I also colour code each entry such as travel, business meetings, networking, client work, personal appointments, etc. Birthdays also go in to reminders. This way I can easily and quickly see what I have on and where my priorities are.
While I use tasks in Outlook or on my iPhone app to keep track of my to-do items, the best way to keep track is a Visual Management Board that I keep in my office. This is a whiteboard that I’ve split into key categories eg Property, Business, Book, Association and under each category I add in bullet points the things I need to work on. I also have a column for Today and This Week. I find this a great visual way of tracking everything and ticking things off all on one board and in one place. It also makes you feel and be in control.
4. Electronic Notes
There is nothing worse than having a million post its stuck all over your desk (although I do admit that I have a few) or bits of paper everywhere. Worse still is when you are madly trying to find an important note you made amongst all that paper. I write all my notes and reminders on my devices (e.g iPhone) and it is synchronised via cloud so that I never lose any info again and I can find it very quickly if needed.
5. Go Paperless
I used to get so stressed when I would have hundreds of bills, paper documents and files lying around needing to be filed somewhere. My shelves were full of folders. Not anymore. If I need to keep a document or a bill, as soon as I receive it, I scan and file it electronically. I keep backup hard drives to ensure nothing gets lost. I also have a shredder to destroy information sensitive documents.
6. Clear Desk Policy
At the end of each day, I clear my desk and put everything away into allocated spots. This way I can start the next day with a clean slate and a fresh mind. This does wonders for your mind clarity and productivity.
7. Standardised Work Week
This is a big one! I set myself a standard week schedule which has Mon – Friday on it and for each day I have standard time slots allocated to specific tasks. For example Monday morning from 7-9am is blocked out for writing my book, Tues 8-10am is blocked out for writing articles, Friday from 7-8 am is blocked for my weekly Improvement Tip and 8-10am is blocked out for working on my business marketing & strategy. This way you ensure that you work on the important $1000 tasks and not just fill your day with emails, calls and possibly lots of $10 tasks. This is a fundamental way that you prioritise the right things and actually get them done rather than procrastinating.
8. Small Bite Sized Chunks
I try to do a small amount of everything everyday. So rather than have a big mammoth task, I break things down into bite sized chunks and work on a part each day. This way a big daunting task becomes much more manageable. So for example everyday I allocate some time to business, to property, to my Treasurer role, to my book etc. That way it gets done a little bit each day and doesn’t feel so overwhelming. And surprisingly you get things done much quicker when they are broken down into small components and worked on one step at a time.
Image credit: orcmid
Jana Krizova Hocken
Jana is a Business Improvement and Lean specialist, trainer and coach with over 12 years of experience working in more than 20 countries and with some of the world’s leading companies, helping hundreds of people and their businesses continuously improve and evolve. She founded Improve8 in 2012 to inspire, empower and support small businesses to achieve their potential.
Check out Get Your Life Back ebook by Kasia Gospos, founder of Leaders in Heels, on how you can get more productive, streamline and automate your business and life so that you have more time for what you really love.