Keys that unlock secret doors seem to be the stuff of fairy tales and children’s stories. They can be the missing piece, the last step, in solving a mystery or opening the door to a new world. In our everyday, ordinary business world, there are keys that solve our problems and open the door to success. Check out these three keys to getting more done, and unlock your productivity.
Key #1 – Set clear limits.
Before you make a to-do list, jot down what you will NOT do today. “I will not check Facebook until 11:30.” “I will not shop for shoes until the sales page is done.” That just might make a better list for your bulletin board than a list of hope-to-do’s.
Set an ending time. Deciding to work “for a while” leads to a vague sense of time. We get more done when we’re watching the clock and we know there’s a finishing time. Knowing when you’ll be done is both motivating and freeing. Your family will appreciate the practical demonstration of their value to you by seeing that you do, in fact, stop working to spend time with them.
Set limits on your challenges. When you realize something isn’t working well or you are faced with a problem in your work, stop and set some limits. Write down the issues, section them off, break them down and figure out solutions in smaller chunks. Emotional relief results from turning vague fears into concrete solutions.
Key #2 – Look at your systems.
Create (and modify) systems for dealing with daily tasks. Yes, I know you just “know” what you have to do every day, but is every single daily task moving along productively? Do you have checklists for Social Media? How about systems for all of the moving parts of blogging—an editorial calendar, a system for blog drafts, a checklist for promoting the post, and so on? Systems remove stress, release your brain for thinking, and create efficiency.
Rather than trying to increase your creativity, increase the order in your life. When systems are in order, you can concentrate on ideas. Removing the disorder in your surroundings and task systems will free your emotional resources for the good stuff. Your time is better spent creating order than trying to increase creativity in the midst of chaos.
Key #3 – Process your interruptions.
Give yourself space after an interruption. Many of us tend to react immediately to every interruption, whether the situation deserves it or not. This is the shortest route to letting interruptions and other people design your day. Start training yourself to master interruptions instead of being their helpless slave.
Impose a delay and collect your thoughts. Write down the interruption on a list designed for this purpose. This could be as simple as “check out the XYZ sale” when you see the email. The act of writing will help your brain calm down and you can make a conscious choice as to when and how to respond to the interruption. That’s a whole different ballgame than wasting 45 minutes on random emails. It will also help lessen stress when the interruption is a mini-crisis.
Practical Action Steps
- Make a “Will NOT Do” list today.
- Decide on (and stick to) an ending time for work today.
- Choose one daily or weekly task and create a checklist for it. While you’re at it, think through your system and tweak if needed.
- Designate a notebook to process interruptions. Begin to write them down so you can make a decision about when and how to do them.
Sometimes one simple key can unlock a whole new way of doing things. By thoughtfully using these keys to getting more done, you can open the door to less stress and more accomplishments.