Jul 9, 2010

5 Ways to Boost Productivity

People often wonder how I accomplish everything I do. I think it is a combination of how I schedule my day, how I spend free time, and how fast I work. Possibly, it could be how I structure sleep, too, but I think what matters more is that I work when I FEEL my BEST.

In order to help you do more, here are my top FIVE ways to boost your productivity.

5 Ways to Boost Productivity:

I. The first way to boost productivity is to be quick at things you do often.

For an example of things I do often, consider keyboard typing. First of all, I learned how to type in high school. I remember during the summer I asked my mother, a business teacher at Santa Maria High School at the time, "Hey Mom, what class could I take that would be the most important for business in the years to come?"

Mom replied, "Learn typing. Typing will be more and more important with the growth of computers."

I have a pretty wise Mom, huh? Keep in mind, this was in 1982! So, I signed up for typing. Playing saxophone might have helped me become the fastest typist in class (92 WPM) but at any rate, that year of typing still benefits me daily to this day. If you haven't learned how to type, I strongly encourage it. Although, it won't matter nearly as much as pointing in the next 20 years (finger/touch computing will quickly become a standard with the advent of the iPad and touch devices moving into mainstream computing).

II. The second way to boost productivity is to maximize your work hours.

Yes, I type fast. But, I also structure my day different than most people. I work when I am most awake, alert, and productive. That, for me, is between 4AM and 8AM, between 8AM and Noon, between 10AM and 2PM, between 4PM and 8PM, and between 10PM and 2AM. You might say, "wait a minute, Scott. You can't possibly work all those hours EVERY day, can you?" and you may have noticed these time slots overlap. You are correct. My schedule varies. That is because I sleep at odd times. It sparks my creativity. Also, I am a jazz/funk musician, so sometimes I keep odd hours. I balance this with naps.

If you learn to nap, you can work when you're awake and sleep when you're tired. Thomas Edison did it. Many other great innovators do it, too. So, that's what I do. But I also schedule time to work when I know I can be my best. It is critical to balance your energy in such a way so that you operate a peak performance as much as possible.

III. The third way to boost your productivity is to structure your workflow.

When I structure my work, I structure it the following way:

1. Projects - what top three projects can I work on now?
   a. What is required to move this project forward this week?
   b. Who do I need to speak with or meet in the next week re: moving this forward?
   c. What can be delegated/outsourced?
   d. What priorities need to be done right away?
2. Schedule - what events are key to success this week?
3. People - who do I need to call today?
  a. Initiate new conversations w/influential people
  b. Follow-up conversations w/influential people
  c. Other conversations that must take place this week
4. Other tasks, email

IV. Time slice for important projects to boost productivity.

If your organize your week and your day in this way, you will achieve a considerable amount with your projects. I find this schedule works well UNLESS you're trying to promote and sell something or have a critical project that must be completed that week. If you're actively prospecting for business you will need to block out time to only make calls for that effort. I do that for Cold to Gold calls. At some point in the near future, I will outsource all of that activity, too. The same for a mission-critical project that must be completed that week. Block out time without any distraction (no email, phone, meetings, noise) while you complete that task for the mission critical project.

V. Outsource, delegate, and eliminate. Again, ask: "What can I outsource?" Much of what I used to do I no longer do, either by choice or by outsourcing. By eliminating things you actually spend time on directly, you can focus your efforts to the interactions that matter most towards your project objectives. Does this makes sense to you?

Last, ask yourself  "Where do I waste time?" If you can eliminate time wasting behavior, you can maximize your day even further.
I find that the more I delegate - whether a work commute, unnecessary meetings, tasks, television, and other unnecesary tasks, the more time I have to be productive at writing a book, speaking (radio shows, in person keynote speaking, and so forth), and meeting people to advance my projects.

Use these FIVE ways to boost productivity and your own work will wisely drive your own ability to succeed because you will boost your productivity, too.
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