Tip of the Month for September 2014

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TIP: Productivity for Entrepreneurs

Rather than increase our leisure time, business technology – especially smart phones and tablets – seems to have extended our work hours by giving us the opportunity to check email and review documents at home, at the airport and everywhere in between. If you find it hard to manage an overload of information, rush from meeting to meeting and eat at your desk most of the time, read on.

  • Don’t confuse endless “busy-ness” with productivity. Trying to multitask, work long hours and rush from task to task usually does not yield satisfactory results. Researchers have discovered that the way to get more done is to take a break, rest when you’re tired and take time away from the office. This may seem counterintuitive, but taking some time to rest your mind and body (i.e. doing less), can make you more productive when you return. Perhaps this idea is not too hard to swallow when you consider that while time is finite and we can’t manufacture more, our energy levels are a different matter. We can get more done and be more productive when we allow time to renew our energy resources and engage in activities to stay healthy. Renewal requires some, or all, of the following: Adequate sleep, a change of pace, some physical activity and nutritious food. On a daily basis, this might translate into a short power nap, a brisk walk or workout and leaving your desk to eat a proper lunch. Taking annual vacations is a must to recharge your batteries. Just make sure you take sufficient time off, to really unwind and relax. Less really is more when you are working refreshed and energized.

  • While we are on the subject of energy, why don’t you organize your work day to suit your natural energy peaks? If you’re an early bird and most productive first thing, start work at 7 a.m. and finish an hour or two earlier. If you’re not, then start and finish your work day later.

  • Tackle your toughest assignments when you are in your peak energy zone. Determine what you plan to do before noon and what tasks fit best into the afternoon. Avoid the temptation to plough into email or snail mail first thing – unless you’re waiting for some specific response.

  • When you take time to review your emails, respond to the ones that are simple immediately, sort the others into folders and review them at an appropriate time.

  • Meetings can be an enormous waste of time unless they are well organized. That means having an agenda and allotting a specific time for discussion (e.g. 10 or 15 minutes) of each item. Provide attendees with the agenda that shows the time allotments in advance. If an item cannot be resolved within the agenda’s schedule, table it for further discussion with the key stakeholders and decision maker(s). Researchers have determined that people tend to stay attentive and alert in 90-minute cycles. This suggests that any meeting that goes on beyond the 90-minute mark will begin to unravel and become unproductive. Start meetings on time and finish before or at the allotted time.

  • Use your smart phone’s stopwatch or timer to remind you when it’s time to move on to another task or to take a short, energizing break.

The above are just a few ideas. Think about what saps your time and come up with some additional solutions of your own.


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