5 Steps for Getting More Done in Less Time

Let’s face it – we live in a world of constant interruption.

Interruptions and distractions are massive productivity killers.  While it may feel as if you are being productive throughout the day when responding to e-mails, making phone calls, tweeting and going to meetings, you are really in what experts call “reactive mode.”  However, we only make the real money during our proactive time.

Here are some tips for reclaiming that lost time:

1) Exercise.

It may seem counter intuitive, but exercising first thing in the morning actually provides you with more energy, focus and mental clarity throughout the day. Exercise adds fuel to your reservoir of willpower and gives you the necessary boost to complete your most important and thought-intensive tasks.  Add a balanced breakfast with protein to this routine and you may become unstoppable.

2) DO NOT check your e-mail first thing in the morning.

Checking e-mail first thing is the morning triggers your “reactive mode,” and once you are in it, it is hard to pry yourself out of that condition for the remainder of the day.  Experts suggest that maximum productivity can be achieved if you check your e-mail only twice a day – once at noon and once again at 4 p.m.  If this is not possible, make sure the e-mail stays off until you first have accomplished your most important project.

3) Install a blocker on your Web browser.

Are you curious about how much time you are burning with non-work related Web browsing?  The Safari browser has an available plug-in called Waste No Time which shows you which sites you have been viewing and for how long.  The plug-in also has a feature to block those sites which seem to suck you in for hours per week.  You may also turn off your Web access for specified periods of time to remove your temptation to cheat.  Other browsers have their own plug-ins such as LeechBlock for Firefox.  Run a search on Google to find them.

4) Designate 50-minute blocks of uninterrupted productivity time.

Buy a digital kitchen timer and set it for 50 minutes, which experts recommend as the optimal time to focus on a project in one sitting.  Do not use the timer on your phone which will tempt you to become distracted.

Next, turn off your phone and e-mail.  Block your browser, unless these three conduits are essential to your task.  Get water or coffee and a healthy snack and close the door to your office.  Start your timer and work on your most important project until it rings or buzzes.  Take a break (away from your desk) for 10 minutes. Repeat.

Your first block of time should be devoted to your marketing, sales and new business projects.  Marketing is your highest priority task because it is the one that ultimately brings in the money.  Therefore get it done first thing every morning before you start your administrative tasks.

5) Train colleagues to know when you are busy and not to be interrupted.

Inform colleagues that your early mornings are reserved for accomplishing your most important business and that you do not wish to be interrupted.  There are very few things in this world that cannot wait an hour, so let go of your desire to respond to everyone immediately.  Set up an e-mail auto-responder and your voicemail to politely remind people of your availability.  After a few attempts to reach you, your colleagues will soon learn and adapt to your schedule. If meetings are unavoidable, try to schedule them in the afternoon.

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