Thank you for listening to the Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Last week Jeff talked about making a schedule and using SMART goals, but a plan is only as useful as your ability to follow it! In this episode, Jeff outlines strategies you can use to help stick to the schedule you set and accomplish your goals. In a fast-paced world it can be easy to get distracted or to allow interruptions to rule our day. These strategies will help you understand how to protect your time so that you can get the most out of every minute of your day.
Prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency. For example, look at your daily tasks and determine which are:
Important and urgent: Do these tasks right away.
Important but not urgent: Strategically plan when you will do these tasks.
Urgent but not important: Delegate these tasks if possible.
Not urgent and not important: Set these aside to do later.
Q: Consider a pie chart of your day. How much time do you spend on important/urgent tasks? What about urgent and not important? Is there anything that seems urgent, but in reality is not urgent? How can you better manage your time and set boundaries that will allow you to protect your time so you can focus on the important tasks? Are there any tasks that you overlook? How can you make time for these important tasks before you are pressed against a deadline?
Boundaries shape your life.
People can’t read your mind, so it’s up to you to set boundaries and clearly state what they are so that people know when you are available to field questions and when you need to work privately.
Be polite and direct.
Your productivity will be determined by your ability to say “no” to tasks, opportunities, and interruptions that present themselves.
If you feel obliged to say, “Yes,” to all demands, your life becomes no more than a receptacle for others’ agendas, and you will burn out.
Consider these questions:
Which hours of the day you don’t want to be disturbed at all, except in case of an emergency?
What counts as an “emergency?”
When you are free to take quick phone calls or answer simple requests.
How your team should proceed to schedule long-duration meetings for more complex issues.
Q: What keeps you from protecting your time and drawing firm boundaries at work? What keeps you from protecting your time and drawing boundaries at home? Which is harder for you to protect? How can you address those fears and concerns? What is one boundary that you can draw at work today that will help you stick to your plan?
Stay Away from the Bad Distractions
To stick to your plan on how you will spend your time, you will need to minimize distractions.
Turn off social media and other app notifications during the workday
Keep email closed until you are ready to dedicate time to answering your emails.
Be disciplined to the task at hand.
Q: What is your biggest distraction at work? How long do you think it takes you to refocus after that distraction? Why do you think you have not taken action to remove it until today?
If it can be done today, do it today!
Procrastination is a key indicator that you are not managing your time well.
“Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy.
The first rule of frog-eating is: ‘If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
This is another way of saying that, if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest and most important task first.
Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else.
Think of this as a ‘test.’ Treat it like a personal challenge. Resist the temptation to start with the easier task.
The second rule of frog-eating is: ‘If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn't pay to sit and look at it for very long.
The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is for you to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning.
You must develop the routine of ‘Eating your frog’ before you do anything else.
Remind yourself that one of the most important decisions you make each day is your choice of what you will do immediately and what you will do later.
Q: Think about the last project you worked on. How much of the work for that project did you complete in the 24 hours before the project was due? How much of the work did you do a week before it was due? What prevented you from getting more of the work done either 1 or 2 weeks before the project was due? Was it a problem related to setting priorities, removing distractions, or setting boundaries?
Track your interruptions for at least one day this week. Count an interruption as anything that takes you away from the task you are doing or keeps you from moving from one task to the next. This could be app notifications, emails, personal calls, trips to the break room, etc. Identify the most common distraction you face and make a plan to eliminate it or reduce the possibility of it interfering with your work.
Have an honest conversation with your spouse and/or a close friend at work about boundaries. Ask for their feedback on how well you protect your time in each of those areas. Take their suggestions and come up one way that you can either draw a boundary or reinforce that boundary with your family or team.
Consider the areas above that can cause you to ineffectively manage your time. Which area do you think you struggle with the most? Which discussion question challenged you the most? Set a goal for the next month to address that one area of time management. Then, when the month is over, track your time for a week and see if you have improved, or, if appropriate, see how well you are progressing toward your goals.