The most valuable thing we own is our TIME! Everyone wishes they had more of it. This is a very busy time of year for photographers but also for students in school!
With a new year here, I wanted to share some of the top tips I’ve learned and applied in my business and personal life. Disclaimer: I’m not perfect—but if I slip into a crazy-busy time I go back to these basics and find great value in applying them.
1. THE MASTER BRAIN DUMP. Doing a “brain dump” once a week is the best way to get everything out of your head and onto paper. NOTE: I’ve used both paper and an app and paper wins out for me on this over-all “everything” list. This “brain dump” becomes my MASTER LIST for the week. I use a notebook and as more “to do” items come up (as they always do throughout the week) they get added to this “Mater List”. This is the list I draw from at the early part of every day to create my “Daily List” from. When I feel stressed with too many things to do, it’s typically because I’m walking around with too many “to do’s” in my head and I need to get them down on PAPER.
2. THE TOP FIVE | FOCUS. This tip is truly the single greatest thing I learned years ago to help me focus and accomplish the most important tasks on my daily list. You might prefer to do this with an app in your cell phone — I do this with a sticky note if I have a “desk day” otherwise it goes in my cell phone app (I use a very strategic system in my iPhone “notes” and also “Trello). I take the TOP 5 most urgent and significant items on my daily list and write them down. These are my FOCUS ITEMS and I don’t deviate from them or get distracted until they are complete.
3. THE DEADLINE PROMPTER. Tasks with deadlines tend to get done. I typically assign a “time frame” for my top 5 tasks. A great app for this (that I’ve mentioned in a previous post) is 30/30. It’s amazing for keeping you on task. Simply input your list of to-do/tasks and a time allowance for each, and start the timer. Voila.
4. THE EARLY START. Most productivity is best accomplished in the first hours of the day. It’s a proven statistic that successful entrepreneurs and rising-star students do most of their work early in the morning. As the day goes on, energy levels decrease and unexpected turns in the day can be distracting. My goal each day is to accomplish my TOP FIVE in the first few hours of my day.
5. THE BIG NO: MULTI-TASKING. I grew up hearing that women can and must learn to multi-task, especially when their children are young. It’s been proven by many tests, though, that the brain functions more efficiently when focusing on one single task at a time. I’ve really seen this to be true when doing anything on the internet. The more windows I have open, the more distracted I can get! I don’t mean to, but one thing leads to another and before I know it I’m shopping for some fabulous item that I can’t live without. Single-tasked focusing leads to much higher productivity across the board!
6. THE BIG TURN-OFF: One of the biggest time-wasters for me for so long was responding to “notifications” on my cell phone. Once I turned them off and set a specific time to check various notifications on social sites etc, my productivity and focus improved immensely. Things like “likes/follows/comments” on social networks, Periscope broadcasts, etc. Big tip: Turn. Off. Notifications.
7. THE EMAIL APPOINTMENT: Yes, I just said “email appointment”! I used to check emails all through the day, every day. This became a huge distraction from productivity. I now have 2 times a day that I check emails: mid morning and mid afternoon. Of course there are exceptions to this rule when you have urgent issues or situations, but for the most part, this is a huge element in claiming back productivity in your schedule. TIP: set your email notifications to “off” on the home screen of your cell phone—otherwise you’ll see them come across your phone and be tempted to open up your email and get distracted from the task-at-hand.
These are my TOP tips—there are plenty other tips I will share in the coming weeks as we move into a new year, but these 7 tips have been instrumental in increasing my productivity. I shared some productivity and organization apps in a prior post that still applies and you can find it here.
I am a HUGE believer in planning for success and it starts one-minute-at-a-time. When I start my day, week and month with a plan and a strategy, I have peace when I’m not working—and spending time with my family with that “peace” is the most important result of all of this planning!
WATCH FOR GOAL SETTING COMING UP SOON!