How often do you head home feeling that you hadn't accomplished the most important tasks you'd hoped to that day, or even had the chance to look at them? The phone rang, an email came in or someone walked into your office to talk and poof, your day was gone. If distraction is the enemy of success, how do you avoid it?
A few months back I wrote about selecting a work environment to suit the work you hope to accomplish in my post "Deep Focus and the Public Library". Environment helps, but it does not guarantee productive work. Planning does. Without a plan, time slips away.
"Luck favors the prepared" -Edna Mode
Friday afternoons are your time to plan your productivity; set aside an hour to assess how things went last week, and to plan for a productive next week. Below are several planning habits recommended to me by my clients; I have adopted some and found them very helpful.
CLOSING OUT LAST WEEK
- Get up to date on time tracking if you have fallen behind (particularly important for attorneys that track time for billing purposes!)
- Review sent email box to see if there were any requests that that did not receive a response. This helps me avoid things falling through the cracks
- Review calendar to see if you failed to follow up on commitments made during meetings/calls
- Clear out inbox; emails turn into tasks on your to do list, appointments on your calendar or they get filed in a folder/deleted. Inbox zero is a great way to start the weekend
- Lastly, send summary reports to others on your team so that they know what your worked on last week. This is especially important as the founding partner, because those below you on the org chart will not feel comfortable asking you how you spent your time
PREPARING FOR NEXT WEEK
- Setting appointments for the coming week. It feels far away, so it is the best time to get others to commit. Set firm time/date plans for your commitments, don't leave it "let's talk at some point"
- Cancel upcoming meetings and phone appointments that are not important or if you are overbooked
- Complete your calendar management by setting aside time for strategy, personal time, and emergencies. Without some slack disruptions can sink the whole plan
- Set my priorities for the upcoming week. Projects, research, phone calls and other tasks; even create a reading list for the week. (Clients have recommend using a Kanban Board (link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_board) to organize priorities, which I have adopted quite successfully)
- Lastly, decide if you will need to work over the weekend in order to be prepared for a successful week, and plan the tasks that must be completed by Monday morning for your productivity plan to work
I hope these are helpful, and if you have any suggestions I didn't include, I'd love to hear them. Meticulously manage your schedule, and you will find productivity and success you didn't know was possible.
David DePietto is the founder and CEO of NexFirm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org