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As I start each year, I am always looking for ways to be more successful and efficient. So, I’m going to share some of my most successful activities to increase YOUR success in 2015!
1. Create your agenda for the day the night before…
I actually “Schedule” my week on Sundays, with all the things that I know I need to do that week. I make each and every to do item an actual scheduled appointment on my calendar. And then at the end of the day – anything that did not get done the day prior gets moved to the next day.
I have found that if I do not do this, I wake up in the morning and spend an hour or two not getting any one thing done. I spend too much time on Facebook, People.com, inc.com or whatever! But if I wake up at 7 and have my first “appointment” at 8 am after I have showered and gotten ready for work (even if I’m working from home that day), then I make sure I get all the time wasters done before the work day really begins.
I actually schedule all my To Do’s in the calendar. If I am working on my tasks, and get to something that I know just isn’t going to get done today or requires a different “energy” than the other tasks, I may very quickly move it to another day and take one of the to do’s from the next day and move it forward.
2. Batch your activities.
Ok – grab a chair. I try to keep my blogs fairly short – but this is a big topic and we’re going to take a few minutes to really get this because I promise it will be one of the biggest things I can teach you to increase your productivity.
Today, I want to help you Batch Your Activities. I know this sounds weird. But let me explain what it means and how it helps you become TONS more successful. If you are like me, I go to bed almost every single night and say, I just don’t have enough time in the day to get it all done. I once hired a local productivity expert by the name of Ellie Pope from Productivity Poolside, to help me identify how to get more done.
For a week, I had to track every single thing that I did. First, I learned that I did even more than I thought I was doing – no wonder I was so tired. But second, I learned that I was not nearly efficient enough with my time.
One of the things that I learned from her is to batch activities and to listen to my body.
What does that mean?
Well – teaching classes, handling problems, and dealing with tech challenges all take a very different energy than all my creative pursuits. It is very hard to go from doing payroll to creating blog posts. Or teaching classes and then wanting to tape videos. So, I had to learn to plan better.
Now – Mondays are teaching days, and I design and program all our flyers, social media posts, etc. all on that day for the entire week. I don’t get into the finances of the business that day. I don’t deal with technology challenges, etc. unless they are an emergency. I schedule creative time and keep it creative time. Tuesdays are finance and planning days. Wednesdays are blogging, filming videos, editing/producing videos, etc. Thursdays are clean up days – things that come up and need attention. Fridays are planning for next week, choreography, writing, researching, etc. Saturdays are clean up days, and I actually try to take Sundays off!
I found that when I sat down to do all my flyers, social media, etc. for the entire week all at one time, I finished the activity more quickly and was happier with the result than when I was trying to do social media after paying bills (or whatever).
I was at a really great business event a few weeks ago, and John Lee Dumas the creator of the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast talked about how he batches activities. He said that all the experts told him that it was pretty much impossible to do a podcast 7 days a week. They said people wouldn’t listen to it, and it would be too much work. But guess what – his podcast is one of the most successful podcasts in the country. And you know how he gets it all done? He batches ALL the recordings onto Tuesdays. That means he records SEVEN recordings all on his Tuesday. He said it is a crazy long day, but that it runs like clock work – and that he finds that the end result is better because he is “ON” that whole day – socializing, educating, and entertaining.
I can tell you that after batching my activities, I have become much more productive and have more time in my day (even though it seems that there is still never enough). So sit down, make a list of all the things you do over the course of a week and try to batch them in. And you know how I told you to create your calendar the week prior – if you batch the things you do on a regular basis – you can program them into your calendar as a “repeating event”.
3. Don’t check email or your phone except for pre-determined times.
I know this feels counterintuitive. And believe me, I have a heck of a hard time with this.
As an active barre studio owner, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to check my phone and make sure everyone arrived where they were supposed to and all the technology worked as intended. In this day of texting – I can tell within 30 seconds if everything is at least “working” But after that, I do not immediately check all my email and my phone. I also do not keep my phone next to me 24/7. I don’t know about you, but my iPhone buzzes every time I get a text or even an email. And I found that I was conditioned to check it and see what was happening. I literally receive over 300-500 emails a day from clients, vendors, staff, educational resources, subscriptions, and junk. Imagine how my day was going if I was picking up my phone and checking my 8 different email accounts 300-500 times a day! I’ll tell you – it was CRAZY!
So I started a new routine. I put my phone in another room. I don’t have access to it. I then sit down and work (uninterrupted) and find that I get oodles more done without the interruptions. On an ideal day, I often walk into my office around 8 am, and do the most urgent or important tasks of my day first, without even checking my email. I try to have two hours of uninterrupted time before I check my email for the day. Many emails I receive are requests from staff, requests from clients – things that actually need a response. So if I have two hours of uninterrupted work before checking everything – I have often completed some of those really important tasks long before I get roped into other people’s needs and requests! This way if I take a half hour to an hour to respond to their requests, I still accomplished much of what I needed to. Then after responding to requests, I normally put my phone away again – ideally until about 3:30. This way, I again have a few hours of uninterrupted time, but still can respond at 3:30 or so – before the end of the business day!
At first, this will take a little bit to get used to. We have been programmed that with technology, we should be available 24/7. But I think it is unhealthy to always be jumping at others needs/requests – and it keeps you from actually being as productive as you could be.
4. Tackle your most important tasks first!
As I have discussed in some of my other videos – if you start your day responding to everyone else’s needs, you find that the entire day has gone by and that you haven’t gotten done all the things that YOU intended to get done – only that you met everyone else’s needs!
Every person’s “most important” thing is different. But each night before you put away your work – identify the one “Most important thing” that you need to do and put it on your calendar for tomorrow morning. This way you can get up and tackle that task. Then after it is done – if you don’t get ONE other thing done all day long, you know that one of your biggest/most important tasks has been completed.
5. Take a break!
I know this one is another one that is going to sound very counterintuitive. If you have a to do list a mile long – you don’t really have time for a break – do you???
But it has been proven that our bodies have rhythms – times that working and focusing are very natural and times that our bodies just want a break. You can condition your body to work through that need for a break – but you aren’t necessarily doing yourself any favors.
For example – at 3 pm, I am often TIRED. So tired that I could literally lay down and take a nap. But despite being so tired that I could go to sleep at 3 pm, at 10 pm, I am wide awake and raring to go!
So, I have learned that for me, rather than trying to force myself to work through my 3 PM slump, that’s the time to turn off the computer and watch some tv, or go out for a walk, or get a workout in, or any number of things. But I am NOT most productive forcing myself to sit there and continue working!
Also, I do lots of little 3-4 day mini vacations. One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to lay by a pool with a great book, my music, and an umbrella drink. No matter how busy I am, I still schedule that 3-4 day mini trip! The first day of the trip, I am literally just unwinding. I have a cocktail or two, listen to great music, and read magazines or totally mindless “chick lit”.
By day two – if I have allowed myself to actually just enjoy day one – I can open up a business book and the creative ideas start flowing. These are normally the days that I get ideas for new choreography, new staff programs, new client programs, new events – you name it! If I had a fabulous and creative idea last year – it probably came from my time by the pool!
So, no matter HOW busy you are – get out your calendar right now. Schedule at least 20 free days for the next quarter. They can be split up into one or two days at a time. They can be a week at a time. However you feel “fed” and relaxed. But commit to these days as real days OFF! Put away your phone. Put away your computer. Tell your co-workers, staff, etc. that these are your days off and actually enjoy the time! I promise that you will find yourself refreshed, rejuvenated, more creative, and more ready to tackle the business!
Please leave a comment below about your favorite way to relax and unwind!
Originally from the Midwest, Amy moved to San Diego in 2001. A graduate of Valparaiso University, Amy had been a Financial Advisor since 1997. When Amy began taking Pilates with her neighbor Wendy, in 2006, she fell in love with the method and benefits of the program and knew she wanted to help others achieve their fitness goals. It was not until Amy took her first barre class that she discovered her true passion for fitness. She loved the challenge and energy of each class. And more importantly, she was excited by the results as her body became more toned than through any other workout routine she had tried in the past. Amy would be one of the best testimonials for Fit in 60 Pilates and Barre. In less than a month’s time, attending 4-5 classes a week, Amy went from a size 10/12 to a size 6. She came home one day and told her husband, Mike that “if every girl knew this, every girl would do it.” Amy is passionate about getting to know her clients and provide modifications and corrections to challenge every client, while making classes as safe as possible. Amy lives in Carlsbad with her husband, Mike, and her dog Emma. She loves what she does, and is thrilled to present the Fit in 60 workout to Carlsbad and Carmel Valley and is eager to help women look and feel great!