Personal productivity

Personal productivity is a must for every printer. Time has become the scarcest resource. And we all know the signs that there is not enough of it: emails, texts and phone calls keep coming in; people are demanding more of our time and we are often flitting from task to task. Often you end up feeling rushed. The result: you can lose focus when you are in the middle of a job or conversation and you are spending more time on your smart phone than you spend talking to real people. And those projects keep piling up.

The starting point has to be a diary. An effective diary not only includes work time spent in front of screens from computer to iPhone to iPad. It should also be used for recording personal stuff like shopping, catching up with family and friends or going to the gym.

Try a default diary. A standard diary simply lists events during the week, for example, an appointment on Wednesday, a session on Thursday and a meeting on Friday afternoon. A default diary turns that around by drilling right into your schedule.

Let us say for example, you have to spend two hours every Monday afternoon working on marketing, and every Tuesday it is an hour and half on finances. A default diary lists these in advance, along with all the other set appointments. That can also include personal items, like sessions at the gym. The beauty of that system is that you can block out times where, in effect, you are just having a meeting with yourself.

Another strategy is to write down exactly where the time went and what was done. Good time management is much like going on a diet where people set up a food diary to note exactly what they ate and when. The same goes for managing time. Write down what you are doing on an hour by hour basis.

Yes, it is tedious. But it is an amazing way to learn where the time goes. Most people are surprised to discover how much time they are actually wasting. People do not actually take stock of what they are actually doing.  Outsourcing is also critical for personal productivity. It is no good, for example, spending much of your time on book keeping and doing the wages when your time can be better spent chasing new leads or marketing.

Not delegating is one of the biggest time management mistakes so many bosses of small companies make. If you are doing everything, you are doing too much. There is always someone out there who can do the mundane better than you. The key is to find the right person for the job.

The other big mistake is starting the day without a plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail. An inability to prioritise tasks and take a proactive approach means you will be winging it. You will be making it up as you are going along as the tasks roll in.

Effective time management is about developing significant systems to get the best return on your investment in time. It also means scaling things down. Good personal productivity can require switching tasks from the frantic to the manageable.

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