- Tired of ending the day feeling like you didn't even come close to getting the right mount of work done? Jason Womack
offers up a few easy tips for creating the habits that will help you knock out your to-do list - so you can focus on your want-to-do list.
If being connected 24/7 was supposed to make our lives easier, the business world didn't get the memo. Most American professionals just can't shake the end-of-the-day feeling that they didn't get enough done. So day after day, they find themselves responding to work e-mail on their smartphones right up until their head hits the pillow. Sound familiar? There is good news - by implementing a few small changes, you can get more done in less time - which not only staves off burnout, but leaves more time for doing what you love.
"When the pressure is on to do more and more with less and less, you want what you do to really count," says Womack, a workplace performance expert, executive coach
, and author of the new book "Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More" (Wiley, 2012, $24.95). "Burning through your to-do list more efficiently lets you go after bigger and better opportunities, sure, but the real reason you want to do it is so you'll have time for what brings you joy.
While Womack's book zeroes in on strategies, tactics, tools, and processes to help readers consistently and incrementally improve their performance at work, he insists he is not some kind of "productivity nut job." He's just gung-ho about teaching us how to get more done, on time, with fewer resources and less stress - so that we can spend our evenings walking the dog, having a beer with friends, or reading a good book.
Four Essential Good Habits
• Keep Your BlackBerry Out Of Bed: Leave your mobile device in another room and use an alarm clock to wake up instead of your phone.
• Always Be Prepared For "Bonus Time:" This is a great strategy for increasing productivity. Bring small chunks of work with you wherever you go. Then, while waiting for a meeting to start or for a delayed flight to depart - you'll be able to reply to an e-mail or make a phone call. In other instances, you might have enough time to review materials for another meeting or project you are working on. If you're prepared, you can also confirm appointments, draft responses, or map out a project outline.
• Change How You Manage E-Mail: The moment you click on your inbox, your focus goes and your stress grows, as you proceed to delete, respond, forward, and file the messages you find there. You see names and subject lines and suddenly your mind starts racing; all you can think of are the latest projects, the "loudest" issues, and the high-priority work that shows up. If you're not careful, all you'll do all day is manage your e-mail.
Rather than simply flag e-mails that require action, use the subject lines to catalog and organize them, suggests Womack. For example, you might put "Follow-up Call" in the subject line of an e-mail about a meeting you just had with a client. Also, don't look at your e-mail unless you have a block of time to devote to prioritizing them and responding to them. When you are going through your e-mail, use subject lines to catalog them and organize them so that you'll easily be able to go back to less urgent e-mails later on.
• Identify The Verbs That Need Attention: Organize your to-do list by verbs in order to manage your productivity in terms of action, delegation, and progress. Actions such as call, draft, review, and invite are things that you can do, generally in one sitting, that have the potential to move the project forward one step at a time.
About The Author
Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA, provides practical methods to maximize tools, systems, and processes to achieve quality work/life balance. He has worked with leaders and executives for over 16 years in the business and education sectors. His focus is on creating ideas that matter and implementing solutions that are valuable to organizations and the individuals in those organizations.
Author of "Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More," Womack shows that working longer hours doesn't make up for a flawed approach to productivity and performance. Entrepreneurs need to clarify their habits, build mindset-based strategies, and be proactive. Womack's signature workplace performance techniques offer specific strategies to consistently and incrementally improve performance.
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