You can get more done at work. A friend recently commented, “You are so involved in so many things. How do you get so much done?” I had never really thought about how busy I am and how much I get done. Doing things makes me happy and the thought of nothing to do terrifies me. It’s not that I don’t like being along. One of my passions is reading. It’s more that I enjoy a feeling of accomplishment and solving problems. I’m my homeowner association president, I’m the chair of my engineering consultant network, president of my garden club and run my sales consulting company. It does sound like a lot now that I see all these roles. How do I get all this done? I follow these rules.
- Do a task no more than twice.
Think of the repetitive tasks you do each week. Maybe it’s having to retrieve a specific piece of paper of file that you reference. You might have to regularly write a report that includes certain information. Maybe you have a list of calls that you make and have to look up each number. It doesn’t matter if you use a search function on a computer to do the task. Being able to get more done is about making each repetitive task more streamlined.
Whenever I find myself repeating something for the second time I realize that it’s time for me to simplify the task. Let’s say I have to look up 5 names. When I do that task twice, I realize I need to create a list of those 5 names so the list is in one place and I can quickly call the names. (You can think emails and creating a Group.) My thought is that when I have to do a task twice there’s a strong possibility that I’ll have to do it a third time. I don’t want to waste the time that I did recreating all my steps to repeat the task for the second time. So I ask myself, what can I do to simplify this task when I have to do it again?
Then I create a template for a monthly letter I write. It has sections where I quickly insert new information and the repetitive sections simple repeat each month. I’ve automated the board member names of each group that I’m in. I used to cut and paste the Board member names from an email draft. I’ve simplified further. It’s easier for me to leave a text file of the Board members on one of the desktops on my Mac and quickly locate it there. It’s fewer clicks to cut and paste from another desktop and it saves me time.
- Delegate selectively.
This rule is especially important if you are a volunteer. It’s also important when you realize that you take on too many tasks that other people should be doing. First accept that you can’t do everything by yourself and truly be productive. You must assign tasks for other people to do.
Here’s where the delegation becomes important. You must delegate to someone who can get the job done to your satisfaction. There is no productivity savings when you delegate a task and find out the work is unacceptable. Then you have to do the work yourself. Now you’ve wasted time and energy.
The people to assign tasks to are those who you know are reliable. Here’s how I know someone is reliable. I listen to what they say they are going to do and then notice whether or not they do what they said. There are many people who are big talkers. They never deliver. Delegating to these time wasters is a huge mistake and stressful for you.
- Build a schedule with a built-in cushion.
You want to be productive? Learn to work without emergencies. I build a time cushion in to my travel so I don’t get stressed from running late. Monthly tasks get put on a schedule with a time cushion built in so when the unexpected tasks appear, and they will, I have a cushion to get back to the task and complete it. It’s easy to remember if your monthly tasks are due on a consistent date. First Monday of the month or the 1st and the 15th of the month are easy to remember without checking a calendar. Assign yourself the start time date that is easy to remember. You are more likely to start it when you should so you complete it on time.
I’m one of those people that enjoy watching how efficiently I can work and strive to improve it. These simple rules can help you become more productive so you can get more done.