I’m often asked “How do you stay productive” and “How do you prioritize”. I understand the urgency, and fear, of those questions. After all, I deal with my client’s finances, payroll, tax filling – one is never more important than the other.
Looking back on my “Productivity: Working smarter and not harder“, you can find a few tips that help me. But here, we’ll dig a little deeper on how productivity and prioritization, IMHO, are so closely related.
Research shows that every time we make a decision, we’re using energy fro our brain (you can read a more eloquent way of saying this in the book, “The Organized Mind” by Daniel Levitin). By making fewer decisions, we are more productive.
Every Sunday, I seat down with my iCal open and my Simplified Planner. I make sure that my personal appointments are on my business calendar and my business appointments are on my calendar.
Then I see all my deliverables: What do I need to accomplish for my clients, are those clients on quarterly or monthly contracts? What is more time-sensitive? Who do I need to follow up with?
I’ll go over my business goals and which tasks I want to accomplish this following week: pay myself, write a blog post, plan my social media, outline a new course, review my pricing and contracts, etc.
I add to my planner my “non-negotiables”. Non-Negotiables are pretty much things that I HAVE to do every day to set myself for success. It can include: exercise, meditate, eat breakfast, read, wash your face, floss – whatever is important to you in your personal life. I have 3 non-negotiables: Meditate in the morning, wash my face morning and night and have a lunch break (even if it’s 10 minutes) away from my computer.
I will block the time for those tasks, this way I can hold myself accountable for them.
After that, I’ll choose from my list 3 things that I MUST accomplish each day. I align the tasks with my day batching – this way I can ensure I’ll be my most productive.
Let’s say, I need to review receipts and categorize expenses for my client’s books – I count this as one task, even if it’s for more than one client – and I’ll have this on Tuesday’s – my “client work” day. If I need to follow up with clients, I’ll have that on Tuesdays.
If I’m doing my own books, that would be on a Friday. Schedule calls, on Thursdays, and so on – I’m sure you get my gist.
I’ll also add the “nice to accomplish” in a post-it on my planner – this is things that I can do, but don’t necessarily need to. If I don’t complete them, I just move my sticky note over to the next day.
This system, that sounds more complex than it is, helps me not need to choose what I will focus on that day. If something last minute comes up, if it must be done today, I’ll add to the list, if not, it goes to my sticky note.
My key to a clear prioritization system is:
- Remove variables
- Remove unnecessary choices
- Create a routine with “non-negotiables”
- Plan your week in advance – have no more than 3 tasks that must be completed on that day
- Batch your week – have similar tasks to be done on the same day
- Have a little “white space” on your days – allow yourself to have “breathers” throughout the day
Since starting batching my days and working on my weekly prioritization list, I noticed that it takes me less time to complete simple tasks and I’m less fatigued by the end of the day. This means that I can serve my clients better, and I can give more time to my family and friends better as well.
I hope this helps you remove clutter, be your most productive and prioritize your tasks to better serve your life, your business and yourself.