I bet this has happened to you. You show up at the office with the best intentions. You’re finally going to get that marketing project — or some other large project — done so you can reap the rewards.
You sit down at your desk. Your voicemail light is flashing. Your inbox is loaded with unread emails. And the fire drills begin.
A few hours later, you skip lunch. Then it’s dark outside. You have no idea where the day went.
Tomorrow? Same drill, different day. And on goes the vicious cycle of getting nothing important accomplished.
How do you recapture your day and increase your productivity? If you do the following three things, and do them consistently, you’ll get more done with more focus and more clarity.
1. Block Out Your Day
Before you leave the office for the day, block out specific times to get things done the next day. Client work, administrative work, marketing work — everything you need to do should be blocked out on your schedule.
Here’s a little secret: Never do client work or check emails or voicemails first thing in the morning. The second you start reacting to other people’s agendas is the second you lose control of the day. Everyone says you have to work out first thing in the morning or else you won’t do it. The same principle applies here.
So, to avoid going into reactive mode, you must block out time so the most important things come first and get done. Treat every block as if it were a sacred appointment. To hold yourself accountable, set a timer for each project or task you are working on throughout the day. When you reach your time limit, don’t let that work bleed into the next block of time.
It’s amazing how much more you can accomplish when you approach a project with a strict time limit. You become much more productive because you’re 100 percent focused.
2. Eliminate “Switching Costs” by Ditching the Multitasking
When you block out chunks of time in your day, it allows you to pay attention to one thing and nothing else.
On the other hand, multitasking (regardless of how good you think you are at it) is incredibly disruptive and destructive. It prevents you from fully committing your mind to completing the task at hand.
So if you think you’ll get some marketing materials created while your email application is open, just waiting for someone else’s crisis to arrive, you’re kidding yourself. Those materials aren’t getting done because you aren’t allowing yourself to concentrate on them.
If you really need to get things done, don’t even go to the office. Go to the coffee shop, turn off your phone and don’t check email!
When you have 100 percent focus and switch between big blocks of things as little as possible, you’ll be much more productive.
3. Eliminate the Tyranny of the Trivial
We all have never-ending lists of small commitments. The little things here and there that we said we’d do. The list that never stops growing and never gets done.
Here’s the key to handling it:
- Keep one list of this stuff. Every time you have one little, nagging thing that should get done but isn’t getting done, or you’re afraid it won’t get done, add it to the list.
- Ruthlessly prune this list. Cut everything but the tasks that you and only you can do.
- Delegate every task that isn’t the best use of your time. Eliminate anything that won’t cause the building to burn down.
Think about it this way: There are a lot of things on that list just sitting there, weighing you down. Accept the fact that a lot of these things will never get done, and that’s okay. Because your sole focus should be on the important things — not necessarily the urgent things, but the important things.
Do these three things — and don’t forget to prune and delegate. Do this for 30 days. Hold yourself accountable and be honest in your decision-making. I bet you’ll accomplish more in those 30 days than you did in the previous six months.
Raj Jha helps attorneys create practices that work for them, instead of them being trapped in practice. As an attorney who has both grown a seven-figure boutique law practice and served as an executive at high-growth companies, he brings real-world business growth strategies to solo and small firm attorneys. Follow his weekly blog here.