08 November 2012

How to get the right things done, every single day.

Efficient, effective, productive.   Isn't that our goal, every single day.

Yet, the time stealers rob you of your good intentions, lurking behind every email and every conversation to distract and frustrate you, leaving your To-Do list unfinished and your willpower shot.

And over time, you feel demoralised by the relentless activity that yields little results.

These days, there's so much to do that it's hard to get anything done.  We get caught in the 'Busy Trap',  spinning without traction. Or worse still, we procrastinate, freeze and do nothing.

As Peter Bregman says in his recent book '18 Minutes: Find your focus, master distractions and get the right things done', we need to reorganise ourselves.  Not to make sure that everything gets done. But to make sure the right things get done.

Cutting through the confusion of too many things is about gaining clarity of what's truly important.  If we have too many things to do, very little gets done.  The choices overwhelm us. 

Bregman suggests we focus our year on the five areas that will make the most difference in our results and our lives.  Then filter every task through these focus points.

Consider the 5 areas you want to focus on this year. These are not specific goals, but areas of focus (you can incorporate specific goals into these areas of focus if you want to).

Balance your life by making sure you have personal focus areas as well as professional.  3 business and 2 personal makes for a good balance.

The remaining area of focus is for 'The other 20%'.  The things you need to get done to assist your team, manage your admin load and otherwise keep on top of the day-to-day things that crop up.  If this category fills too much, consider what you can delegate, or question if it really is that important.   This is the area that provides 20% of your results so don't spend your valuable time here. The bulk of your time should be going towards the things that matterto you, the things that make a difference .

Then, every day, plan your day, recording what you want to achieve each day from your areas of focus.

Bregman suggests an 18 minute plan to manage your day that can change your life:
  1. 5 x Morning Minutes: Before you do anything, plan your day. Decide what you will realistically accomplish from your focus areas. Schedule a specific time in your calendar to do it.  Don't just record it on your to-do list and hope it happens.  Make an appointment with yourself to ensure it happens.
  2. 8 x Refocus Minutes: On the every, every hour, stop for 1 minute to question if the last hour has been productive and managed according to your plan.  Set your phone or wathc to beep every hour to keep you accountable to what you want to achieve from the day.  Otherwise, time rolls into one and disappears before you know it.
  3. 5 x Evening Minutes: Review your day, asking "How did the day go? What success did I experience? Challenges?", "What did I learn? What do I plan to do differently, the same, tomorrow?", "Anyone I need to update? Communicate with?"
It's a simple plan and one I'm working on myself.  Writing this blog is on my to-do list and fits an

area of focus.  And it got done!

Check out the book '18 Minutes', it's a great read! Oh, in case you're wondering how I fit in the time to read it, another of my focus areas is to learn something new every day that can help me to help others.  I hope this helps.

Bye for now.  I'm off to work on another scheduled task from one of my focus areas.