How to Be More Productive
By: Dr. Shekina Farr Moore
Would you like to start being more productive right now? Want to stop wasting precious time and move your projects to completion? This article will focus on how to be more productive from this point forward.
The key to becoming more productive with your time is to concentrate your efforts on the task at hand. So how do you begin to concentrate your efforts? The key is to eliminate distractions.
Distractions come from two sources. The first source is outside things, such as phone calls, emails, interruptions from other people and so on. Pick a time when you feel at your peak, and sequester yourself, for a period of time each day, to give yourself a real boost in productivity. Develop your own methods to hide from the outside world, for a period of time each day, and you will see your output grow.
The second source of distractions comes from within. Unfortunately, this is the hardest source of distractions to control. It is hard to shut yourself off from yourself. The key culprit for us is multitasking. Many studies have been done at this point, that show multitasking reduces productivity, instead of increasing it. Our minds can only hold one thought at a time, and switching tasks causes us to lose focus and momentum, and forces our mind to play "catch-up" over and over again. To become more productive, you must master the art of focusing on one thing at a time and give it your best effort and attention, until it is done. If boredom sets in while you are working on your task, give yourself a SHORT break, and remind yourself of what the ultimate objective is for what you are working on and what the payoff is to you.
You need to make sure the task you pick to concentrate on, is in fact your highest priority item. Many of us fall into the trap of staying busy, vs. staying productive. One task may clear mountains of paperwork off your desk ,or you might be better served by moving just one piece of high priority/high payback paper. Use the 80/20 rule to help find the true gems in your inbox. The 80/20 rule says that 80% of the gains you receive, come from 20% of your efforts. Find out what that 20% of high payoff project are and make sure you concentrate on accomplishing them first.
And of course don't forget the basics of time management. Say no to as many projects as you can to help streamline your workload. Try to cherry pick projects you know in advance hold high payback potential and try to pass on lower priority projects. Also delegate as much lower payback activity as possible. Calculate the value of your time and try to delegate low value activities, even if you have to pay someone. It is money well spent.
Increased productivity is as close as your next thought. Remember everything counts. Every action you take as well as those actions you don't take can help you move towards your goal of increased productivity. Constantly remind yourself of your need to be more productive and discipline yourself to do the right thing. Don't beat yourself if you have a setback, but be certain to reward yourself in someway, for each action that moves your productivity up a notch.
By Dr. Shekina Farr Moore
My business experience has taught me one true thing: That maximizing your productivity, happiness, peace, or impact can best be accomplished if you clearly understand The 12 Rules of Time.
1. Have goals
Being more efficient with your time is irrelevant if you don't know how you want to spend it. In managing time, the compass is more important than the clock. Know where you want to go and spend your time on the things that get you there.
Many people spend energy trying to be more efficient without first doing what's important: setting goals. It's like being lost on your way to a new city. Driving faster doesn't help if you are going in the wrong direction. Figure out what direction to go in and head that way.
Once you've prepared it, your list of goals will reveal what is important to you.
2. Analyze how you spend your time
It is always good to know how you're spending your time right now. You can track this by setting a timer to go off every 15 minutes; whenever it sounds, write down exactly what you are doing. Alternatively, divide your day into 15-minute blocks and record each activity you do.
Once you have your time logs, examine them. How do they compare to your goals? Are you spending time where your priorities are?
3. Keep a to-do list
This sounds too simple, but it really is the basis of all time-management systems. Your to-do list can be electronic, on fancy paper, bound in a notebook or loose-leaf. The key is to have everything you want to accomplish on one list. My to-do list might have a one-line item on it, such as "write annual report," which refers me to a much larger file or even a file box on that item.
4. Prioritize your list
Once you have the list, determine which are the important items. Mark these with a highlighter, a red pen, or in any other way that makes them stand out.
I sometimes find my to-do list is too big. Every item on the list calls out "pay attention to me!", even though most of them weren't highlighted as important. In these cases, I take a blank sheet of paper and cover my to-do list and write down only the three or four most important items. Those are the ones to focus on.
5. Control procrastination
I use a number of tricks to break any lingering tendencies to procrastinate. For instance, I happen to like having a hard copy of my digital to-do list. I reprint it every few days as new items are added and completed ones dropped. It is at these times that I look for the items that I've marked as high priority, but which are just not getting done.
People often say I have great self-control. In truth, though, much of it is environment control. I control my environment to eliminate things that I might use to procrastinate. Take games off your computer, for example, sell your TV, and get rid of the busywork jobs that you use to avoid the important tasks.
I have developed one effective habit that has helped break me of procrastination: "Do the worst thing first." At the beginning of every day, I do the one task that is causing me the most stress, and that I haven't been getting done. Sometimes I just give it a quarter of an hour ó based on the theory that I can stand just about anything for 15 minutes. Frequently it is this short thrust that breaks me through.
If I still find myself procrastinating, I review my reasons for setting a goal. To create extra motivation to complete a task, I strengthen the reasons why it should be done. Similarly, many people reward themselves for completing a job.
Organization and time management are linked. I find that I get important things done when I have all the tools I need to perform the job.
The opposite of organization ó chaos, clutter, disorganization ó generally leads to busy work. If your desk is piled high, every piece of paper says "look at me." You can end up doing a lot of work without ever getting to the important stuff.
One way to expand your time is to get others to help you with it. The key to delegation is to hand off any tasks that someone else can do significantly faster or more easily than you can.
If you're protesting that you don't have anyone working directly for you to whom you can delegate tasks, no problem. Consider delegating to a peer, a superior, a supplier, or even a customer. Treat delegation like networking: who in your network would be best for the job?
In some cases you will need to invest up-front to train someone so he or she can take over a task from you. The long-term savings are usually worth the up-front time and costs.
After delegation, remember to thank appropriately. You might think people would resent being delegated to, but exactly the opposite is true. People like to be asked, especially if it is to do something that they're good at.
8. Master efficiency tricks
The best trick I have found is "The Power of While." What can you do while you drive? While you walk? While you clean? While you watch TV? I am a huge audio tape advocate and frequently listen to tapes while I am doing something else.
Being a techno person, I love all the organization software out there that allows me to keep my contacts, to-do lists and appointments. I also use gadgets such as cell phones, wireless e-mail, and personal digital assistants. Good use of technology can save you valuable time.
9. It's OK to say no
Saying "No" can be the most powerful time tool you can master. When someone asks you to do something, ask yourself how important this is. Does it help you achieve your goals? Is this a task you would be better at than most people? Don't always look for reasons to get out of things, but be strategic about what you take on.
This doesn't mean that I always say no when asked to help out. But if I do say no, I am always polite and tactful, and try to suggest someone else who would do the job well.
Committing 100% focus and concentration on one task at a time can be very powerful. Eliminate distractions. Focus on the task. When you're properly organized and prepared, when your energy and power are high, you can often complete a task in 20% of the time it would take when you're distracted or open to interruption.
11. Build your efficiency bank
High efficiency is not possible if you don't look after yourself. Eat right, exercise, sleep well and drink moderately. Mom knew best: all the things she said were good for you just happen to be best for your efficiency, too.
I also believe meditation can be a great way of building your efficiency. It could be transcendental meditation, Zen, or just finding a way to get into a relaxed state that lets you focus on the task you have to do. No matter how you do it, recharging your batteries gives you the power to do more during the times you need to be at your best.
12. Take care of yourself
It isn't possible to be "on" all the time. Take the time you need to look after yourself--body and soul--so that you can reach peak efficiency when you need to. Have a list of things you like to do. Find out what activities energize you, and spend more time doing them. This will give you the power and energy to be more productive when you return to work.
Finally, a word of advice. If after reading this far you're feeling a bit overwhelmed, I suggest you go back to Rule 1 and add peace (contentment) to your list of goals. Time management is not about adding stress; it is about giving you the time to be the person you really want to be.
Learn more about our Coach or Coach Trainer certification programs at www.TrainToCoach.com.
By: Dr. Shekina Farr Moore
Assuming the Responsibilities that come with Being a Coach
Who can forget the famous line of Peter Parker (Spiderman's grandfather)? He said, "With great power comes great responsibility."
Society expects Spiderman, a comic book, TV and movie superhero with extraordinary powers, to be responsible for saving his town and the world from the forces of evil. And he never let us down. Despite the temptations of owning such powers, he uses his abilities only for the good of the people around him.
Being a coach has similar parallels. They don't have superhuman powers such as x-ray vision or flying through the air with magic "sticky ropes". But great coaches can have real power through their abilities to help others, and with it, the responsibility to guide others towards success. This is REAL power that can be used to help real people in THIS world. Done well, coaches can help others turn around their lives. Done wrong, and a coach could guide a client down the wrong path.
So, with this power to coach your clients towards manifesting their personal and/or business vision comes responsibilities. Great coaches assume them all as part of the professional responsibility. This can include everything from making sure their client is moving in the right direction, getting them back on course when they are not, and developing and tracking their use of exercises to help them along the way.
There are a few things YOU can do to be a more responsible coach. Just as important, these same skills can be imparted to your clients to help them lead more responsible, integrity-filled lives.
How to Bring out the More Responsible YOU in Yourself and your Client:
#1 - Develop Self-awareness
Learn and know your own strengths and weaknesses to be able to view your behavior objectively. Recognize your shortcomings, receive feedback, and make changes when necessary. The more self-aware you become of all your aspects, the more you will know what kind of clients you can coach best and, just as important, those best referred to others.
Dr. Gerard Bell, business consultant and professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, advises us on how to expand our self-knowledge. He said, "Study yourself closely and practice self-assessment techniques to learn how you behave, and the effects you have on others." Ask others for their opinion, feedback, and suggestions to become a better coach.
The lesson is simple: the more we grow, the more we can offer, and the more we can help others.
#2: Learn to Separate Responsibility from Worry
When we hear the word responsibility, we often think to ourselves, "Another task, another problem." However, responsibility is not about worrying over things given to us to work out. Consider this story:
One night at the end of the second shift, the Head of Operations walked out of the plant he managed and passed a porter. A porter he passed said, "Mr. Smith, I sure wish I had your pay. But I wouldn't want the worry that goes with it."
Mr. Smith answered, "I give the best I can when I am here. But I drop the worry when I leave so I can be 100% with my family when I'm at home."
You, too, can learn to give your best to challenging work, but then leave it at the door when you're off-hours. Worrying accomplishes nothing except to eat away at us, and actually ends up making us less effective! Don't let worry taint your clarity of judgment and ability to take decisive action. You can learn this as you grow.
Carrying the responsibility of coaching should not intimidate you. It is the ability to help others that coaching is all about. Embrace the responsibilities that come with it.
Nothing is gained by worrying about whether your clients achieve their goals or not. Focus on supporting and inspiring them. Be their partner in their growth. Brainstorm with them when it is called for. But ultimately, it is your client's responsibility to assume responsibility for accomplishing their goals. You merely help them see and achieve this state.
#3: Take Calculated Risks and Learn from Your Mistakes
Effective coaches have the courage to ask their clients to take risks when results and success are uncertain. A willingness to risk failure is a core attribute of all successful people.
As a coach you can help your clients work with risk and possible failure. Help them learn to analyze their situation and options. Work with them to list the pros and cons for each option, then assign each choice a risk factor rating from 1 to 5. Next, have them determine the likelihood of each occurring. This will help them quantify and manage the risk-taking process.
Also, it will lead them to a better paradigm regarding failure.
What is failure other than great feedback that our current course of action isn't the right path? Use this information for course correction. Failure doesn't happen until we give up. If you don't give up, then failure isn't an option.
#4: Own and Admit Your mistakes
Our greatest lessons and growth come through our mistakes. Everyone makes them; it is part of life. Help your client understand this, and they will be able to draw the necessary lessons and take corrective action. If we do the "blame game", we don't even take the first step (ownership) in this process.
Not only does owning our mistakes and failures help us to be more truthful and powerful in our own lives; Owning and assuming responsibility for them lets others see the integrity and virtue within us, and hence, further gain their respect.
Learn how you can become a Certified Coach or Coach Trainer at www.TrainToCoach.com.
ICI COACHING BLOG
ICI empowers coaches and trainers with certification services. Our Blog inspires and informs practitioners with industry news and best practices.