Improve your personal productivity with 2 daily habits.
1. Start your day with your Calendar instead of your Inbox.
How many times have you started your working day (either at the office or beforehand from home) by checking our email? How often have you then looked at the clock after reading emails and realised that a sizeable chunk of time has elapsed, and you are either running late for work or that next meeting is about to start, and you haven’t prepared for it yet?
I call this “the email time trap”.
Email is an essential tool, but it can also consume a lot of time, especially if used in an uncontrolled or unplanned manner.
A much better way to start the day is with your Calendar.
Calendars have been around since the Bronze Age and nearly every civilisation on Earth uses one. How’s that for a solid recommendation!
We all get 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week and 8,760 in a year (8,784 in a leap year 😊). It’s what we do with that time that matters.
Keeping track of ALL time commitments in one place will helps you make better decisions on how to effectively manage your time and stay focused on your goals. This avoids being side-tracked by unplanned demands on your time.
Use your calendar to set aside time for:
- Fixed Time Commitments (meetings, travel, promises made etc)
- Important tasks (usually Client or Boss related 😊)
- Goal related activities (tasks that will help you achieve your goals)
- Routine Tasks (may not be exiting but must be done regardless)
- Planning & Creative tasks (these usually require quiet or uninterrupted time)
- Personal time (Family, Social, Health etc)
For users of Microsoft Outlook, there is a way to configure Outlook so that it displays the Calendar (instead if the Inbox) by default when the program is started*. A good way to avoid the email time trap!
*If you’re not sure how to do this, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Finish each day by planning for the next.
The ideal time to plan your day is not first thing in the morning but at end of the previous work day.
At the end of the work day your mind is still focused on the job. What you have completed and what remains to be done. This is the ideal time to allocate your time for the next day (and the remainder of the week) by booking time in your calendar for important tasks along with all the fixed time commitments you already have in your calendar.
This is also a good opportunity to evaluate your time utilisation for the day just passed and whether you can realistically achieve your goals for the next day (and remainder of the week).
Don’t assume you can always “catch up” on unfinished tasks the next day.
Be careful not to over commit your time as there will always be those unexpected events that pop up. Leave room for those unexpected events and if they don’t pop up, then hey, you’ve got some bonus time in your hands!
Use the end of day review to take a quick look at what happened during the day and if you didn’t complete all your tasks, try to figure out why*. This will improve your future planning skills.
What’s important here is to set aside time for next-day planning and end of day review (preferably in your calendar) and be sure to do it as the last thing before you leave your work for the day.
PS: the same principles apply to your week, ie plan for next week at the end of this week.
*There are many reasons why our days don’t always go according to plan. We’ll cover some of these and how to deal with them in future blogs.