“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.” Zig Ziglar
In a recent blog I asked you to look at your to do list and sieve it into Ditch Delegate or Do. So now you have a new to do list which reflects those tasks which as a business owner you need to do yourself. Now to maximise your productivity, Focus is the key!
Even with a clear vision, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the mountain of ideas, tactics and goals that might lead us towards its achievement. So we need a way to chunk the mountain down into smaller more manageable hills. I call these smaller hills my Focus Areas!
The corporates may look on them as strategies, some may think of them simply as priorities. The name doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you have them – that you take your mountain, look at what it’s made up of, and group similar goals, ideas and tactics together.
Remember though, this is all about focus, so you can’t have a dozen focus areas, it kind of defeats the object of the exercise. Four or five, maximum six, will keep you properly focused and make your planning and delivery a whole lot easier. For example, McDonald’s focus on People, Place, Promotion, Price, Product.
So, what will be yours? When you are clear what your focus areas are, and what you want each focus area to deliver for you, your aim or intention, you can then begin to develop fully focused goals and plans.
The Urgency and Importance Matrix
Another strategy which really works for me is this simple 4 box matrix which enables you to prioritise:
Box 1 Urgent but not important - these may be urgent for someone else but not important to you, they may be small things you can quickly get done and out of the way or allocate small bites of time at the end of the day.
Box 2 Important but not urgent - these are tasks which are really important for which you need to allocate quality time. You have a deadline but it’s not today or tomorrow.
Box 3 Urgent and important - these are the tasks you need to prioritise. You need to get them done today or tomorrow and you need quiet time to concentrate on getting them right.
Box 4 Not important not urgent - this should be empty! If you find yourself allocating tasks to this box ask yourself ‘why’. Re-visit your original to do list, is this something that should have been ditched then?
I love this little matrix, once you’ve honed in on what you really need to be doing it’s a great way of prioritising and planning. It certainly changed my life for the better and I’m so much more productive.
Do two or three things:
I hope this works for you and I’d love to hear how you get on if you give these a try.
Good luck and thanks for reading.
So, you have a Big Vision that gives you goosebumps and it’s plastered on your wall in huge letters. You’ve started to plan with your team about how together you’ll make that Vision a reality. And you’re all buzzing about the future and cracking on. Great stuff! I can feel the energy from here.
Now, all that’s missing is an effective Personal Management System. Not the sexiest title I’ve come across but even the most inspiring vision, and the smartest of plans will be wasted if you don't have the means to keep yourself on track.
A Personal Management System
Your daily routine is the cornerstone of your personal management system, and should be crammedfull of habits that will maximise your productivity, and move you closer to your Vision.
1. Get into the habit of planning your day the evening before (and your week on a Sunday evening). At the end of the day, you’re usually very clear about what still needs to done, what the priorities are, what tomorrow’s frog* will be. Advanced planning like this makes sure that you hit the ground running.
2. Chunk your work into 90 minute segments. This is a good timeframe for focus, and FOCUS is the key word - don’t multi-task - if you’re going to work on a sales letter, work on it for the full 90 minutes, or until it’s done, if you can do it within the 90.
3. Peak Practice - Work out which part of the day you’re at your peak - for me it’s first thing in the morning - and use that 90 minutes to ‘eat your frog’ - *do the thing that you don't necessarily want to do, but that’s weighing you down mentally, because you know you really need to get it done. Just get focused and eat the damn frog! It’s a really good success habit to get into.
4. Set yourself mini deadlines - always good for those of us who like a bit of last minute pressure - make them ‘drop-dead’-lines too! Absolute must delivers! Breaks are always a good deadline. Holidays are also excellent. Ever noticed how much more you get done in the days leading up to a holiday, or the minutes leading up to any deadline.
5. Switch Off. Both breaks and holidays are essential for your long-term productivity too - refreshing and re-energising your mind and body. The most successful businessmen and women really get this, and have made breaks long and short, a habit they will always keep. Learn to have switch-off time every day - practice is the key.
6. Daily Exercise. Other daily routines and success habits that are good for your mind and body, include taking at least 30 minutes exercise a day - even if it’s just a walk down the road and back - and drinking plenty of water - two litres is the recommended amount isn’t it? I’m no scientist, but I can testify to the power of a lunchtime walk for clearing your head and setting you up for a productive afternoon.
For budding entrepreneurs, there are three other personal management essentials:
A Personal Management System takes discipline and time to develop, but when you learn to manage yourself, the business will be a piece of cake!
Do one thing: look back over today/yesterday. Did your work take you towards your Vision? Did you have frog for breakfast? If not, look to adopt these good habits and improve your routines.
Thanks for reading :)
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)