13: Streamline Tasks With One List.
Whether you are analog or high tech, having your to-do list stored and easily referenced can keep you focused on the task at hand, save precious seconds on searching, and free your mind from having to remember items. Which equals focus for your current project. I keep my daily lists down to what I have deemed a manageable 7 items.
Find a way to record your thoughts and reminders that works for you, create a habit from this, and stick to it.
12: Make Monthly Goals.
Whether you have a self directed or are held accountable externally, having monthly (quarterly, weekly, daily) goals and priorities help free you from being caught up “fire drills” and when you look back at all that you’ve accomplished, it can set you up for another brilliant month.
Goal Setting: I ask myself, what are the 3 things I want to accomplish this month? And then I reference this list as I build my weekly action plans.
11. Write It Down.
We can only keep so many thoughts in our mind at one time. Find a way to record your thoughts and reminders that works for you, create a habit from this, and stick to it. Freeing up your mind just might just yield a new idea!
My mind’s “hard drives:” Evernote, Google Docs, and a trusty notebook by the bed
10: Do One Thing At A Time.
Being pulled in many directions simultaneously is par for the hyper-connected course. When you channel your attention (and avoid the distractions of social media) there’s a better chance of completing the task, followed by a sense of accomplishment, and a load off of your mind. Ever notice when you check a number of things off a list, how easy it is to just keep going? Laser focus is a productivity accelerant!
Searching for your own time bandits? I use RescueTime
9. Take Small Bites Out of Big Projects.
Let’s pretend you have an event to plan. To get started you list it on your to-do’s. But planning an event, or promoting a new feature, or any other multi aspect endeavor can feel overwhelming. Having small, easy to execute, and specifically written tasks make moving foward easier, which equals faster results.
Your inbox is not your to do list. Delete anything that you are not going to take action on, it feels good to hit that button. Do it often!
Here are a few examples of good and bad task names:
Bad: Plan Event. Good: Write a 10 step action plan for the XXXX Event.
Bad: Look into venues. Good: Email 3 potential venues for event.
Bad: Promote Event!!!! Good: Post Event on Facebook.
8: Your Mind Needs a Break.
There are times in the day when it can feel like we’re running out of steam. Instead of fighting it, take a break. Recognize when you need to step away, and actually walk away. It may sound counterproductive, but breaks actually make you more productive. Many of my own “walk for coffee” breaks have resulted in the most creative spurts. And that’s before the caffeine jolt hits!
7: Get Your Sleep.
Studies and thought leaders like Arianna Huffington continue to tell us that we are not as productive when we are sleep deprived and tired. With a full night’s sleep, our decision making capabilities increase. Try it. And then in the morning, try tackling a problem/project that daunted you the night before.
6. Do The Thing You Loath First.
Mornings (or whenever you wake up) offers the clearest and most disciplined time of the day. So before you check your email, or launch into something mundane (and likely easy), tackle something that has been looming over you. You will have more brain power, resulting in getting it done faster and will have started your day off with a win.
5. Say No.
Part of successful project management is deciding where to focus your energy and resources. Once I let go of the fear of missing out on something it became easier to decipher what events, projects, etc would be wise to partake in, and which it was important to pass on, not necessarily just because they were misaligned with goals, but because in taking on too many, one runs the risk of doing a poor job on many, instead of a great job on a few. In my experience, people appreciate a well thought out “no” instead of a wishy washy yes, or worse, a no show.
4: Master Your Schedule
A calendar is a must first step in taking ownership of time, place and duration. Meetings, especially face to face ones, can derail a potentially productive day. To counter, I first decide if video or a phone call will suffice. Many people that I’ve met appreciate the brevity and convenience of a scheduled phone call — and often times it’s the suggestion of a phone call versus meeting in person that secures the connection! For face to face meetups, I block off 2-3 afternoons for out of office meetings, selecting one central neighbourhood to meet and building additional meetings based on the time and location of the first one booked.
3: Delegate And Delete.
My two favourite words. Delegate your inbox and your actions to yourself or others (if appropriate) and get it the heck out of your inbox. Your inbox is not your to do list. Delete anything that you are not going to take action on, it feels good to hit that button. Do it often!
2: Connect To Your Peer Community
Different from the communities you may manage, having a professional peer circle helps us learn, grow and offers support. Whether it’s joining a LinkedIn Group, attending meetups or taking time to meet offline for coffee, I’ve most often found having these connections helps “fill up” the idea cup!
1. Think About Time Realistically.
You (hopefully) have a realistic budget for groceries, rent, etc. Do you have a time budget? Set realistic benchmarks, based on your own personal history to set yourself up for time successes. Knowing the answers to the mundane “how long does it really take you to leave the house”, to the more work specific “how much time does it actually take me to write a blog post” helps us own our life’s schedule. And, at least for me, the more budgeted I am with my time, the more saved time I find to pursue passion projects.
I’d love to hear about your productivity tips. Use the comment section here are get in touch via Twitter.
Former Yelp Canada Community + Marketing Director, Crystal Henrickson spends her days helping Vancouver startups cultivate community while keeping her CM plate full with @ChimpFund – a charity + tech startup. You can get in touch with her on Twitter (@marketing_girl).