My most recent article on LinkedIn talked about getting prepared for 2019 and not waiting too long to get started. Subsequent to that article, I presented a short presentation on Time Management and Identifying Priorities to a local business organization. And, last week I was asked to provide a presentation on Strategic Planning and Goal Setting to a business owners roundtable. Apparently, it’s that time of year.
Whether you’re working on a new Strategic Plan, or the annual Business Plan (Budget) for your company, or setting Personal Goals, everyone seems to be making plans for next year and it won’t be long before we’re all thinking about New Year resolutions.
A couple of my standard resolutions each year include reading books for business and personal improvement, and to be more efficient with my time. To me this is part of a continuous improvement plan that’s never finished. One of the books I read this year was Make Time, by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky.
John and Jake are product designers that spent years in the tech industry building services like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Hangouts. They found, like we all do, that their lives were being managed by the constant demand for attention from our email and smart phones. What’s interesting is that the distraction this brings doesn’t provide the greater productivity as technology suggests. It actually creates greater inefficiency unless proactively and aggressively managed. That’s the essence of their book.
John (JZ) and Jake present a multitude of ideas on how to manage our activity, including technology demands, for improved productivity. Actually, they present 87 tactics for identifying our “Highlight” (main priority) for the day, generating a “Laser” focus on it and “Energizing” to get it completed. Here are a couple of my favorites.
- Design Your Day – This amounts to blocking your calendar and scheduling your “Highlight”. Even if you “Highlight” is to work on something at your desk, block out the time on your calendar to do it, then fill up the rest of the open time slots with other priorities or personal tasks. Even include your coffee break. This makes you realize that every minute has a certain value and you must utilize them effectively.
- Nix Notifications – Technology “Notifications” are not your friends. They’re non-stop attention thieves. Seldom, if ever, do those notifications deliver an urgent and important message. By turning off your notifications you stop the distractions and can control what you respond to and when by checking in at your scheduled times to see what needs your attention.
- Set a Visible Timer – This gets you into a “Laser” focus and generates a sense of urgency to stay focused and complete the task at hand. Jake and JZ recommended Time Timer so I acquired one and gave it a try. It’s amazing, you wouldn’t think that a visual timer sitting on my desk indicating how much time I have left out of my scheduled time would make much difference, but it does! I find that I complete my “Highlight” sooner and because of my increased focus, the quality of my work product is improved. I really like the Time Timer product and the results it provides. In my profession I spend a lot of time on the road or in the business offices of my clients and prospects. When I’m at my desk I need to be efficient yet effective. This product keeps me focused so that I can achieve that.
So, as you head into 2019, planning your business and personal goals consider reading, Make Time and implementing some of the recommended tactics to improve efficiency. All of us are limited to 24 hours a day. Let’s use them wisely in the upcoming year, whether its for work or personal pleasure a focused and well implemented plan will serve us well.
I hope you had a great finish to 2018 and have a well balanced, happy, and successful 2019!