I am a productive person. I like to get things done. “Like to get things done” doesn’t go far enough; I need to get things done. I spend a lot of time working, and to wind down, I like to do more work. For good–and sometimes for ill–I’ve wired myself this way. There are some things that I have learned to do that allow me to get more done.
Early to Rise
I changed my sleep patterns five years ago. I used to stay up until after midnight and wake up at 6:30 AM. I mistakenly believed that I only needed about 6 hours of sleep. When I started writing daily, I made the conscious decision to go to sleep at 10:00 PM and wake up at 5:00 AM. I need 7 hours of sleep. But that’s the setup, not the secret.
The secret is how I use the first 2.5 hours of the day. I use the first hour to write. I almost always write my daily post at www.thesalesblog.com first thing in the morning. But I also write the things I need to write for clients, whether that is proposals or the actual writing that I do around the work we are doing together.
I put sales and marketing first every day. When I am done writing and doing the most important client work I need to do, I go for a run. For a lot of years, I thought I would do these things when I had more time. Then I decided to live the life I wanted to live now and started doing these things before I did anything else.
It used to be that I wouldn’t have even started working by the time I get this work done, and those 2.5 hours are super productive. They’re worth 5 hours.
Every Saturday I clean up all of the things that have come into my life over the course of the week. I empty my physical inbox, which is a big, leather box into which I can throw things. I empty all of my email inboxes (I have three, all of which are a cluttered mess by the end of the week). And I empty my Evernote inbox (I set up one notebook called “inbox,” and I email or scan everything straight into it throughout the week).
This is “collecting.” I collect the things I need to do something with or do something about. I don’t make any decisions about them.
On Sunday, I review all my project lists and the things that I collected throughout the week. During this review, I decide what I am going to do each week. I use a program called Omnifocus (Mac only) to organize all my tasks, and I put a due date on anything that is literally due on a certain date. I plan my week, so I can be proactive instead of reactive.
Honestly, this a tough discipline to develop. It’s taken me a long time to get it to stick, but now I can’t imagine not doing a weekly review.
There is some work for which you are not the primary value creator. Someone else can do what needs to be done better than you can, or someone else can do it for you because you aren’t adding any special value to the task. Look at your to-do list and see what falls into these categories for you.
It’s hard to give up some things that you need to do. You believe you can do them better than anyone else (you’re wrong) or you believe that you can do them faster (you can’t, you could teach someone to do what needs done, empower them to do it, and get your time back to produce a better outcome where you are the primary value creator).
I have an Executive Assistant who takes care of the things that don’t really benefit from my having done them. I delegate tasks to her daily, and she makes decisions about what she can do without me giving direction (which is better than delegation). In one of my businesses, I have given up doing work I used to do for people and forced them to step up and do it themselves. It gets done faster, and without me having to do it.
Maybe one or two of these ideas will help you get more done, or maybe they’ll give you back some time to do the things you say you would do if you had more time (Note: These are the most important things!)
And be sure to go out and subscribe to my new YouTube Channel (I am going to release a new video later today). See you back here next Sunday!
P.S. I have six podcasts launching on In the Arena. I just released my interview with Linda Richardson. Linda built Richardson Training. I asked Linda to come on talk about her new book: Changing the Sales Conversation: Connect, Collaborate, and Close. Subscribe here.