How often do you start your day determined to achieve big things in your business, only to get by waylaid by client emails or someone else’s agenda?
Perhaps you have your trusty to-do list on your desk or computer but, instead of shrinking, it just seems to get longer and harder to achieve?
We’ve all been there – those days when nothing goes to plan and our goals just seem further away because we’ve spent the day flitting from task to task or responding to someone else’s ‘urgent’ requests.
I’ve personally found that the following hints and tips have helped me to boost my productivity, prioritise my goals and make the most of my time. I hope they help you too:
Write everything in one place
I don’t know about you but I used to have multiple to-do lists, some online and some on paper, some to do with work and some to do with family life. Just knowing these lists existed was stressful and overwhelming at times.
A better strategy is to write down every goal and task in one place. This includes daily, weekly and monthly tasks, as well as your long- and short-term goals and targets.
Create order from chaos
Once you have everything in one place, you can swap and change things around so they’re sorted in an order that makes sense to you. For example, you might decide to break your to-do list into the following categories:
- Daily tasks
- Tasks to complete this week
- Tasks to complete by the end of the month
- Tasks and goals for the next two to 12 months
- Long-term tasks and goals for the next five years
Another productivity hack I read recently was to sort your to-do list by:
- Immediate or reoccurring tasks and projects
- Medium-term professional goals, targets and tasks for the next three months to two years
- Long-term career and personal goals for the next five years
I find it’s best to keep things are simple as possible, so keeping short-, medium- and long-term goals appeals to me.
Consider urgency and importance
When structuring your to-do list, it’s essential to consider the urgency and importance of each item. What do you have to do and when do you have to do it by? This will affect where an item appears on your list.
Be honest with yourself
When you look at your to-do list, is there a task on there that you never seem to get around to? If so, take a moment to ask yourself why you haven’t done it yet.
- Is it something you really need to do?
- Are you avoiding it? If so, why? What are you worried will happen?
- Could you delegate or outsource the task to someone else?
There may be tasks that you could strike off your list altogether. If you really must tackle a long-outstanding task, then my advice would be to make it the first item on your list.
Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” “Eating the frog” has become synonymous with getting the worst job out of the way first – after all, the rest of the day will be a doddle in comparison!
Break your goals down into manageable chunks
Our bigger or longer-term goals can often feel overwhelming simply because we can’t see how to get from where we are now to where we want to be.
Like climbing to the peak of a mountain, a better approach would be to plan out your route a step at a time with lots of small, bite-sized chunks that will move you further towards your destination.
Imagine, for example, that you want to bring in ten new training clients in the next 12 months. Although this is a fantastic goal, you will need to create a roadmap to help you achieve this target. This might include tasks such as updating your LinkedIn profile and reaching out to people in your network, blogging more frequently, reaching out to past clients, asking for referrals and more.
Focus on one thing at a time
If your attention is split by lots of different tasks, it can be hard to do anything productively. I always recommend that you choose a task from your to-do list and commit to completing that before you move on to the next one.
Set realistic deadlines
When you have several tasks with tight deadlines, especially if they all come crashing together, it can wreak havoc on your productivity. When you set a task, it’s important to think about how long it will take and set a realistic deadline.
It can be helpful to log how much time you spend on different tasks so you can refer back to this when scheduling new tasks in.
Allow time for interruptions
Tied into setting realistic deadlines is an acknowledgement that sometimes interruptions will happen. If you can build time into your schedule for dealing with the unexpected or ring-fence time when you can’t be interrupted, it will help your productivity in the long-term.
Reward yourself for striking items off your list
As you work your way through your to-do list, you might want to build in some incentives and rewards. This could be anything from taking a coffee break once you’ve made a phone call you’ve been avoiding to taking a day off at the end of a large project.
You work hard so do take a moment to acknowledge your achievements – having something to look forward to can be a great motivator and time saver.
Need more advice about setting and achieving goals within your training business? Sign up to my How to Launch Your Training Business in Just 30 Days programme for just £37 and you’ll receive 30 days’ worth of information, resources and exercises to help you get your training business up and running. I’ll also give you a recording of one of my most popular webinars – How to get corporate clients – when you sign up.