Here are 5 ways to use your planner to help you become more efficient and effective. By following these suggestions, you will get more done and become closer to your goals.
1) Use your planner every day and check it often. Leave it on your desk in front of you. Some of our clients use paper planners and often apologize that they are not “tech saavy”. We assure them that it does not matter whether it is paper or an electronic, as long as you use it. (Tip: if you use an electronic version, you may want to print out the planner daily.)
2) Capture all projects and tasks. Write everything down on paper or electronically. It takes a lot of mental energy to juggle projects, tasks, and upcoming activities in your brain. You will be able to concentrate on upcoming projects without this extra mental weight. At some point, your memory will fail.
3) Review your week ahead of time – decide what is important based on your goals. Enter the tasks that must be done to support them. (Tip: make it visually easy to identify the most important tasks on your to-do list by highlighting them.)
4) Use one planner for both personal and work. (Tip: color code the activities. It’s easy on a paper planner. On an electronic calendar categorize the activities, making personal appointments one color and business appointments a different color. My business appointments are in red.)
5) Make your action steps concrete. Include appointments and commitments to others. Start with a verb. For example, call Fred re: Short client agreement. Don’t you agree that this works far better than putting Fred on the planner?
What are you going to do with your planner to help you become more efficient?
Recently, we interviewed successful business people and learned that many of them start off their day purposefully – they make sure they are totally prepared for the upcoming day and whatever will come their way. While some have predictable days, many do not. We need to accomplish as much as possible as early as possible since we do not know what is ahead — clients need answers now and a boss can walk into your office with an urgent project.
Fast Company Magazine writer Kevin Purdy addresses this in the August 22, 2012, issue “What Successful People Do With The First Hour of Their Work Day.” His excellent suggestions are right in line with the practical ideas we advise our clients.
First, incorporate a routine into that first hour — exercise, meditate, eat breakfast, read the paper, or whatever else you feel you must do to get the day off to a good start. With that behind you, you can focus on the present.
Second, don’t open email right away. Don’t even think about it. If you must, Purdy recommends AwayFind. This software program alerts you to emails that need to be opened immediately.
Third, accomplish one outstanding task that will need your attention that day. It will take a weight off your shoulders because it will be done and now you no longer need to think about it. Plus, as Purdy points out, colleagues and clients will no longer pursue you for answers.
This week’s Turnaround Authority blog discusses work-life balance and how to achieve it. Lee Katz points out — rightfully so — that work with no breaks stifles creativity and efficiency; too often we fall prey to our electronic devices and forget about the importance of leisure time.
As a productivity specialist, I couldn’t agree more. Many professionals I work with feel compelled to check their emails at all times of day and night, even on vacation. During the day they are constantly being interrupted and stressed out with rush projects that need their attention immediately. They put out fires and leave the “undone” tasks until after the kids are in bed when they finally are not interrupted. There goes the chance to read a good book or to catch up on the day’s events with your significant other.
Part of this is a mind-set — for many of us work is all consuming and we forget about “down” time and how it recharges our batteries and our creativity. That’s why work-life balance will only happen when we consciously create it. Those much-needed breaks will help our personal frame-of-mind and bring about continuing business success.
Part of the technique is to use work time effectively so you accomplish your work goals during the day.The second part? Plan your leisure time … something, anything, just not work. A vacation or weekend morning’s activity without an electronic device is, we promise, doable. And, the best part is that you will feel refreshed, renewed and ready for those challenging problems that need your creative juices.
We constantly hear about the perils and horror stories of partnerships – well, I for one, vote yes to a good partnership that is based on honestly, trust, and the willingness to listen. It’s almost like a marriage. It’s a two way street. Always remember to say, “Please,” “Thank You,” and “Great Job.” Continually ask yourselves, “How can we make our partnership stronger?”
One benefit of a partnership is that even when you are unable to work, your clients’ needs will always get met. Whether it is a meeting, phone call or presentation your partner can communicate with the client or prospect if you are not available. Sometimes it is decided to reschedule and other times your partner takes over. Either way you know your client is in good hands. Note: This is also a good reason to introduce your partner to as many of your clients as possible.
Another benefit is accountability – who better than your partner to keep you on task! Whether it is sticking to our agenda or time checks throughout the day, we support each other.
Brainstorming is a huge benefit that is often overlooked by partners. Leslie and I value each others’ strengths and constantly brainstorm – two heads are definitely better than one.
I have been unable to work for over two weeks. My recovery has been faster because I was able to concentrate on my health as I knew Leslie was taking care of our business. I am sure our clients got top-notch service. Whether it is home emergencies, health issues, or needed vacations, a partner handles work while you are not there.
Strong partnerships take time and effort, but the benefits are worth it.