How To Double Your Productivity in 30 Days

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All of us are plagued with too much work and too little time.  Many of us have experimented with various time management systems and various electronic scheduling programs that we hope will keep us focused and on track and help us improve our productivity.

In reality we all possess the tools we need to double (and in many cases even triple) our productivity.

The secret is focus.

I’m not taking about listen-to-your- wife-while-you-watch-the-basketball -game focus.  I’m talking about focus on one task and one task only to the point of excluding everything and everyone else.

And I’m talking about that kind of focus all the time.

But for most people, this is easier said than done.

Here’s how you can do it:

Step one:  Write down everything you have to do and everything that takes up your time and energy during the course of the week.  Make a big list.  On this list put everything you spend time working on and thinking about.

Then lump these activities into categories.  For example:  driving to and from meetings, research, preparing a talk, returning client phone calls, sifting and sorting email, networking,  drafting an agreement, etc.

Step two:  Select the five areas of focus that are the best possible use of your time.  Notice:  This step has a hidden step within it.  You must determine what your time is worth and decide what is the best possible use of your time.

Once you have selected the five things (or categories) that are the best possible use of your time, you can move on to step three.

Step three: Ruthlessly eliminate everything else from your life except the five things that are the best use of your time.  The idea is to delegate or otherwise permanently dispatch these things from your life.  Get rid of them completely.

Typical excuses:

Whenever I introduce this concept to my clients they always push back on certain items.  Email for example, is one of the biggest time wasters on the planet.  Here’s what I encourage you to do with email:

1). Never keep email open on your desktop while you are working.
2). Train your assistant or paralegal to sort your email.  Have her alert you to anything urgent, handle what she can handle and flag things that need your attention.
3). Schedule time to check and respond to email every day.  Select an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. 
4). If something in your email will need longer than 5 minutes of work, schedule time to handle it.  Actually put it on your calendar – as long as it is one of the five things you are focusing on.

Another area people complain about is the telephone.  Here is my solution for that problem:

Never take an inbound call.  Have all your calls go to voice mail.  Have the voice mail transcribed and emailed to your assistant or paralegal.  Have the assistant handle the issue or schedule time on your calendar for you to handle the issue later on (as long as it is one of your five areas of focus).