101 things you can do (or stop doing) to get more time [part 4]

August 1, 2012

by Terry Monaghan, August 1, 2012

Are you ready for the next batch? Have you tried any of the first 75 tips I gave you in part 1, part 2 or part 3?

If you still don’t think it’s important to get control of your time, you might want to read The High Cost of Distraction.

Hang on to your hat… Here’s the final batch of tips (for now).

  1. Put your bills on automatic payments
  2. Exercise – regularly move your body
  3. Hire someone to do your bookkeeping
  4. Have a lawyer review your contracts
  5. Get your will done!
  6. Get your advanced medical directive done
  7. Get a durable power of attorney done
  8. Get rid of (give away / donate) what you don’t use or don’t need
  9. Send that pile of mending to the tailor
  10. Checklists are your friend
  11. Use a packing list when traveling
  12. Make up a duplicate toiletries kit, and leave it in your suitcase
  13. Take a short break every hour
  14. Focus on one thing at a time
  15. Set a timer
  16. Give up being a perfectionist
  17. De-clutter your office
  18. Don’t print that if you don’t really need a hard copy!
  19. Keep an extra printer cartridge and an extra ream of paper
  20. Build a favorite items list at your online office supply site, and use it
  21. Do your single most important task first each day
  22. Facebook will wait
  23. Voicemail is there for a reason, use it when calling out
  24. Let your incoming calls go to voicemail, too
  25. Be careful how often you play phone tag
  26. Take notes on client calls

 

(c) Terry Monaghan, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at http://www.TimeTriage.com.


The high cost of distraction

July 24, 2012

by Terry Monaghan, July 24, 2012

At a conference earlier this month, I heard some staggering stats about the high cost of distraction.

Here’s how it was presented.

The average American watches about 4 hours of television a day. Assuming that person makes just $20 per hour, over the course of his/her working life that will add up to $1 million in lost earnings and another $1 million in lost interest.

What does watching television have to do with business? Well, how often do you get interrupted during your day? How much time are you distracted from your job? What about your team? Your employees?

Hint: email alone can suck up nearly half your workday.

Statistically, we are being interrupted about once every 6-8 minutes all day long (and it can take 10-15 minutes to refocus, each and every time).

So, from the point of view of the business owner – that would be $1 million paid in wages but not received in work product from the employee. Multiply that across the organization, and the true cost of distraction is (as I said above) staggering!

And how would we calculate the lost revenue to the business?

Is that enough of an incentive to start dealing proactively with the interruptions?

 

(c) Terry Monaghan, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at http://www.TimeTriage.com.


6 reasons your email is driving you crazy…

August 21, 2011

Why is email so crazy? And what can we do?
Have you ever wondered why it feels like email is running your life, interrupting everything you do, and ruining your day?

Well, here are six reasons your email is driving you crazy:

  • You deal with people who think email is the same as instant messaging. You know the type – they send an email, and then send four additional emails in a hour wondering why you haven’t responded to the first one.
  • You deal with people who don’t know the difference between hitting reply and hitting reply all. So you get everyone’s responses to someone else’s question.
  • You have your computer or phone set to allow email to push through to you on a regular basis. So you are interrupted by every popup, beep, buzz signaling an incoming message.
  • You have 15,000 emails in your inbox and 5000 are marked unread. And you really think you are going to do something with them!
  • You subscribe to various newsletters or industry reports, which you really want to read, but you don’t have a sorting rule to divert them into their own folder. So, they are cluttering up your inbox, mixed in with action items and all the other messages.
  • You are unwilling to delete messages once you are done with them, because you might need to refer back to them later.

All of this adds up to an overwhelming amount of email – 80% of which is not important to your daily work (really). I read recently that the average business person is receiving the equivalent of a 250 page book in email every single day. Yikes!

But it is not hopeless. This is something you actually can control!

All you need is a simple process for your email, and then, of course – you need to follow it…

(c) 2011, Terry Monaghan

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at http://www.TimeTriage.com.


10 reasons we don’t get anything done…

March 24, 2011

Why don’t we get anything done?

Have you ever wondered why it feels like you are running through your day as fast as you possibly can, yet at the end of the day you can’t say what (if anything) actually got done?

Yes, me too. I know I was busy, but what was taking up all my time?

Here are 10 reasons why we don’t get anything done:

We are addicted to our email. We let our incoming email interrupt whatever we are doing, as if what is coming is in more important than what we are working on right now.

We can’t turn off our phone (land line or cell). We will answer every single incoming call (or at least look to see who is calling) as if we have nothing else to do.

We can’t find what we are looking for. Our desk/briefcase/car is awash with papers, files, supplies, and other stuff, and we spend way too much time shifting, sifting and shuffling.

We have an open door policy – and people take advantage of it. Colleagues and co-workers stop by the door and interrupt us with ‘just one quick question’ or some non work related gossip.

The next thing we need to do on this project can’t be done because we don’t have that piece we need from the other department because the person who was supposed to work on it was on vacation/out sick/busy and we didn’t know that.

We aren’t sure what we are supposed to do next, and instead of asking anyone, we dive into some piece of the project, and only discover later that that part was already completed by someone else.

We go online to research a topic and get distracted by chasing various links down many different rabbit holes. Three hours later we still don’t have what we went to find in the first place.

We are working without deadlines, so either everything has a deadline of NOW or nothing is urgent until we have heard from 3 people looking for our input.

We spend our time in meeting after meeting after meeting, all designed to provide status updates, but no one has any time to do any of the work because they are spending all their time updating the status.

And then we wonder why we are so busy but don’t get anything done!

When will we stop? Just wondering…

(c) 2011, Terry Monaghan

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, a weekly ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at http://www.TimeTriage.com.


Is an empty inbox even possible?

June 23, 2010

Did you know that studies indicate most of us in business are spending up to 3 hours a day just trying to deal with incoming email? This time doesn’t include doing any of the work associated – just trying to get through the inbox. And if your email pushes through to your BlackBerry or iPhone it can be even worse!

3 hours a day equates to over 19-1/2 weeks a year – just trying to get through the inbox. No wonder it seems to be so overwhelming.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is just insane. I remember when I first heard those statistics. I realized that I was not spending any where near that amount of time dealing with my email, and I didn’t think I was the only one. I went on a hunt to identify what others were doing to manage this, and found we all had something in common.

It’s no big secret – we had all established a process and protocol that we use to manage our email. This process and protocol has just a few parts to it. And, if you implement even one of the steps, you will see an immediate result.

Here is my six step process:

  1. Establish protocols. When will you check your email? How quickly will you respond to incoming email? Make no mistake, if you don’t establish your own protocol, one will be established for you by default. The default is what we now have – 3 hours a day (or more) treating email as if it were some form of instant message, and allowing ourselves to be continually interrupted by incoming messages.
  2. Set up some rules to divert email you don’t need to see immediately. I have rules that move newsletters into reading folders, and other rules that move messages sent to a particular email account (yes, I have more than one) into its own folder. So what actually ends up in my inbox is already somewhat sorted.
  3. Turn off the feature that automatically checks for email every 5-10-15 minutes. (That is the push.) Instead, pull the email in to the inbox at the time you set to check your email.
  4. Turn off that shadow popup (or sound) that notifies you of new mail. Studies indicate we get interrupted, on average, every 6-8 minutes throughout the day. And, it takes us up to 10 minutes to re-focus on the task we were working on when the interruption occurred. That math doesn’t work! So, eliminate the interruption.
  5. Process your inbox systematically. I like to think of the inbox as a place where items land and the action is to sort. The inbox is not a place for things to live. The goal is an empty inbox at the end of each sort. Here are some sorting criteria that work well:
  • Read and delete (you don’t have to do anything else)
  • Read and respond (simple acknowledgment or one line response)
  • Read and schedule for future action (including delegating)
  • Read and file

I said six steps – so what is the last one? Stop treating email as if it were instant messaging. We have developed a culture that treats email as if it all required an instant response. Stop! You can put an automatic response on your email that alerts people to your rules and protocols. This will manage their expectations regarding when you will respond and can give them a way to contact you if something needs to be dealt with quicker. Trust me, they won’t get upset, and you won’t receive five more emails asking why you didn’t respond to the first one.

This is what you can expect: As I write this, I average around 250-300 incoming emails every day. I check the email generally twice a day – in the morning, and towards the end of the day. Each time, I spend no more than 30 minutes (and usually quite a bit less time) sorting, responding and scheduling action. Then, I turn it off till the next time.

A few years ago, I took a vacation to Ireland with my brother and sister. Every hotel we checked into had computer access. My brother and sister were checking their email every single day. I didn’t. I was on vacation. Instead, I had already scheduled my first day back as a catch up day. I came home to 894 new emails in the inbox (many others had been diverted). After two hours, every single one had been read, sorted, and scheduled appropriately. And I was caught up on what had been happening while I was away.

Give it a try. It works every single time.

(c) 2010, Terry Monaghan
Want to use this article in your ezine or website?
You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, a weekly ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at http://www.TimeTriage.com.


How accessible do you need to be?

April 5, 2010

Last week we were talking about managing distractions (really interruptions) and I wrote:

Dan Kennedy says “if they can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you.”

Then I asked: How can you make yourself inaccessible?

Well, you would have thought I suggested something completely radical! I can’t tell you how many people said, “But you just don’t understand! In my profession (my office, my company), I have to be available all the time. I have to take the call. I have to answer the email – right away.”

Really? How well does that work for you? Did you ever think that you are training your environment – your colleagues, clients, prospects – that you are always available? And then you complain that you get calls at ridiculous hours, you can’t have a meal without the phone ringing, and you are answering email late at night and on the weekends and on vacation. And you and your family resent it. You have given up any boundaries and have completely given up control of your time, energy and resources to whoever is on the other end of the phone or computer.

The bad news – the flood of calls and emails and interruptions aren’t going to stop anytime soon.

The good news – you actually have a lot of control over it.

I know a lot of people who review their email for the last time in their workday about an hour or so before the end of the day. This gives them time to deal with any really time sensitive matters (of which there are relatively few). Others have an end of day routine that includes sending out a bunch of messages to clients, colleagues, etc., to clear their own desk. They are not expecting an immediate response – they are just shifting things to the next state of action. Sort of like a tennis player hitting the ball back over the net.

If you are one of the people who receive this kind of message, you might think you need to stop and bang out a response immediately. But, trust me, the person who sent the message is not expecting an immediate response.

Why do we always assume an immediate response is required? We have been trained that way. Instant messaging. Instant coffee. Fast food. Frozen dinners (that take longer to heat than making something from scratch). The default reaction is get it done now, fast.

I’d like you to consider a different response. Take control of your energy. Take a moment (or two or ten) to think, to plan, to breathe, to focus. Turn off the phone. Turn off the computer. Walk away.

Where have you given up control? Where do you operate in default reaction mode? Pick one area and give up reacting. Just try.

I promise you two things. First, you will make massive progress on your goals. Second, you will find yourself far less stressed out.

Because, really, without a life, what’s the point?


Managing expectations (part 2)

March 30, 2009

In an earlier post, I was talking about managing interruptions.

The first step was to identify the interruptions (phone calls, email, drop ins, etc.).

Second was to identify the expectations (prompt response, things done on time, etc.).

Finally, identify the communication needed that would allow you to manage the expectations.

Managing the expectations of other people who would want or need to communicate with you throughout the day is a simple matter of communication.

Think back to the last voicemail you reached when you were calling a colleague. Did it say:

“Thanks for calling. I am away from my desk. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”

How useful is that message? How much confidence do you have in your call being returned. And when will it be returned anyway?

What if instead the message said something like:

“In order to keep to all my deadlines, I am not answering my phone right now. However, if you leave a complete message (including why you are calling), I will return all phone calls between 11-12 or 3-4.”

And you knew the person would actually do that? I don’t know about you, but I am more inclined to leave a message (and only one message) when I get a voicemail like that.

And it is the same issue for emails. If you have already set up your email protocols (and I hope you have), and you are not checking email all day long, then all that is needed is a simple auto-response letting people know when you will be checking and responding to your email.

Two simple steps to free you up to get more done. Worth a try?


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