How to Improve Personal Productivity by Crushing Time Wasters

Now that the year is almost over and you begin to reflect on improving for 2011, let’s focus on time management. How are you at time management? Or as I like to refer to time management, how is your personal productivity?

  • Do you accomplish everything you set out to do in a day?
  • Do you find yourself running from one thing to another?
  • Do you know the “time wasters” in your world?
  • Do you know how to eliminate the “time wasters”?
  • Do you procrastinate?
  • Do you know your priorities?
  • Do you get consumed by email?
  • Do you have time to work on improving your skills?
  • Do you run out of time to accomplish the tasks you want?
  • Do you have enough time for your family?
  • Do you wish you had one more hour in a day?

It is essential for career advancement and leadership to master the art of personal productivity. Like a CEO who leads a worldwide organization cannot afford to waste a single minute when trying to profitably grow their business… and neither can you.

If you started the year off with great intentions and struggled in managing your time, now is a good time to get back on track for. Going through the rest of the year and into next without a good structure in place is not worth the stress and you deserve better.

Begin to identify and crush time wasters- NOW.

Here’s how;

Make a list of all of the things that waste your time and think about what you can do to eliminate them from your day. Then begin to eliminate them one at a time. Alternatively, as you go through the next two weeks, simply record the things that waste your time.

To get you started, here are a few time wasting examples that likely need to be crushed:

* Clutter that leads you to wasting time as you constantly search for things or lose things that then have to be replaced.
* Ineffective meetings that you attend or facilitate where nothing of importance or significance results.
* Wasting time in traffic as you come to work – go home or move around your city /town.
* Misunderstandings of who was going to do what – when. There are many scenarios that can lead to last minute panic and / or resulting in doing things twice.
* What other time wasters do you experience?

Once you identify the things that waste your time and don’t contribute to your success it’s time to eliminate them. Crush them.

In my experience, anything that is a waste of time can be crushed.

If you don’t know how to eliminate them from your day get some help.

Ask your boss, co-worker or a mentor for some help or advice on how to deal with a particular time waster.

As a result of crushing those things that are robbing you of productive time, you will experience less stress, enjoy your work more, be more effective at what you do and enable you to spend valuable time on professional development which will position you for career advancement.

Let Me Show You How to Double Your Personal Productivity

Imagine what would happen to you if you doubled your personal productivity? How would that affect your work?

Have you ever finished your day and reflected on your lack of progress? You seem to have been busy all day yet achieved very little. Have you ever looked at your “to do” list and realized that it is longer than it was at the beginning of the day because nothing has been crossed off?

When you are managing a successful career or developing the business of your own, your time is in short supply and therefore invaluable. Your time is fixed. You can’t get any more. This means that you have to do all the things that you need to do in a fixed time frame. The clock doesn’t stop ticking. The secret is to make the best use of your time without working any harder. It is a case of personal management.

Logically speaking, the first step to better managing yourself in relation to time is to find out what you are currently doing.

· Measure how your time is being used.
· Check out how much of your time is being wasted.
· Who are the people that waste your time?
· What do they do?
· Can they be neutralized?
· How much of your precious time do you personally waste because of your work habits?

Keep a Time Log

You may say “I don’t have time to mess around doing that!” Keeping a time log is a very effective way to discover your current work habits. You’ll gain a tremendous amount of information about your use of time even after trying it for one day. It seems that once you start measuring what you are doing or what is happening to you, it creates a situation where you become conscious of your habits. Once this happens, you have the ability to examine them and if necessary, change them.

For one week keep a log of your activities. Record each activity as the day progresses. Throughout your day record the time whenever you start or stop any activity. You can use a stopwatch or put a timer on your desk. Be as detailed as possible in your time log.

Whenever your attention shifts from one thing to another, make a note of the diverting activity, no matter how trivial. This means that you will record all interruptions, noting their sources and reasons. Give as much detail as possible. Make a note on how much time you spent on each item. Set a priority for every single item. After a day, you will be able to see what proportion of your time was spent on high priority work.

Record your ideas on how you might have done things better. Write these comments as you go along. This reduces the chance of overlooking details.

Keep the time log close at hand. When you answer the phone, write down the phone call. When someone pokes their head in to make a comment or pass on information, reach over and jot it down on the log sheet.

Use abbreviations and shortcuts.

Show people by their initials.

Indicate interruptions with a big “X”.

For phone calls, use a letter “C” with an arrow pointing to the “C” for an incoming call and an arrow pointing away from it for your outgoing calls.

Each day go over the following points.

· Every time you shift your attention – log it. Be specific.
· If you note a 12 minute block as “Phone calls” you will not be able to tell if they were necessary or time wasters.
· Record everything.
· Do not skip over socialising or brief interruptions because they seem minor.

You are trying to determine how much of your total time is frittered away in such minor activities.

Note how much time you spend on interruptions, emails, reading blogs, web surfing, planning, phone calls, problem solving, research, filing, eating, drinking tea or coffee day-dreaming, doing meaningful work, going to the bathroom and thinking. If you get out of your chair, it probably means you need to make an entry in your time log. At the end of a typical day, I end up with around 80 log entries.


Log your time as you go Don’t try to catch up at the end of the day.

When I first checked myself using a time log, I was astounded. Out of my 58 hour week I only did 13 hours productive work. As a self-employed consultant, this was my only source of my income. I soon changed the way I operated and managed myself differently.

Improve Your Personal Productivity by Careful Goal Setting

Setting goals is one of the most important activities that you can possibly do to raise your personal productivity. By having a predetermined end result you will find that your day-to-day activities will be much more focused. Once you’ve got a goal, you can instantly assess whether or not your current activities will contribute towards the achievement of it.

For example your goal may be to improve the productivity of your section by 13% in the next five months; acquiring five new customers every two months; being promoted to the next level before the end of the year or finishing another two papers in the next six months.

There are certain attributes that are contained within effective goals.

The goal must be demanding. This is the most important quality of the goal because it motivates us to do our very best. You’ll be surprised that when you set a demanding goal how easy it is to exceed it. It’s sometimes very easy to set lower goals.

The goal must be achievable. On the other hand, don’t make your goals unrealistically high because this will only lead to disappointment and frustration. This may cause you to give up. Goals that clearly cannot be reached, will destroy your morale and with it, your motivation.

The goal must be specific and able to be measured. If you have a vague goal you will never know when, or even if, you have achieved it. A goal such as, “To read more” is of little value. It is not a measurable goal because it doesn’t state how much you are going to read and what you were going to read. If you state your goal in the form of, “I am going to read the daily paper every day before going to work” it is much more specific and it is easy to measure. When you have a specific goal you have something to aim at and an easy way to know if you have succeeded.

The goal must have a deadline. The goal without a deadline does not provide the motivation to take it seriously. The deadline is an important function in goal setting. It provides a sense of urgency as well as a way of tracking progress. A deadline also puts the goal in context with the rest of your activities. These elements greatly increase the chance of the goal being achieved.

The goal must be written down. If you don’t write down the goal, you are not utilizing the well-known fact that we remember things that we write and say rather than the things we think. All serious goal setters write down their goals, tell other people about them and keep them visible so they can see them frequently.

The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need To Improve Your Personal Productivity

A new take on personal productivity

Productivity is dependant upon three things:

1. A clear understanding of what’s important (your goals come from this).
2. A simple approach.
3. Consistency.

That’s all I do to get a lot of important things done every day. (FYI: it’s 10:57am and I’ve already watched four training videos, called my clients, read my important email messages, written three blog posts, played with my son and had two cups of coffee. )

Do what’s important!

I get a lot of important – this is the key – things done because I only do what is important. I say important a lot in this type of post. Are you starting to catch on?

Here’s how I do it (and you can too)

Let’s break my method down.

First, understand what is important

You have to start with getting an understanding of what is important to you. You have to do this on three levels:

1. What is important to you? (E. g. What makes you tick? For me, it’s all about family).

2. What do I have to do to succeed in my area/s of importance? (E.g. What do you have to do to succeed? For me, the question is “What do I have to do to provide my family with the lifestyle they deserve?”

3. What do I have to do today? (E.g. Which task/s will get me closer to achieving my goals?)

In understanding what is important to you and what you have to do to achieve your goals you simplify your daily activities.

Let’s look at an example

Let’s say you determine that travel is the most important thing to you. Let’s say you determine that you want to travel for at least 6 months each year.

In this case, it would be crazy for you to look for an employee position as you will be moving on every 6 months. Who would employ you?

Knowing what’s important will guide you to roles and options that are more flexible. Perhaps you will create an online business that makes you passive income?

Based on determining what is important you can start acting on only those tasks that get you closer to making enough money in a way that lets you travel every 6 months. This eliminates all the tasks that do not get you closer to that goal.

A quick note: you will have goals on multiple levels. That’s okay. Just understand that at all levels you need to follow the same simple approach.

A simple approach.

The best approach is always a simple approach. I don’t care how complex a situation is. You can always break it down into simple and manageable chunks. Simple is where the results are.

Here is my simple approach:

– Determine the three most important things you can do to achieve your ultimate goals.
– Don’t do anything that doesn’t fit into these three areas.

Couldn’t be simpler. Now, remember simple doesn’t mean easy. The hard work comes at the beginning in determining what’s important.

You have to be consistent

Most systems fail because they are not followed consistently. Perhaps this is because we have a short attention span. You see, this is one of those times that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “

All systems are only as successful as their component parts and you are the largest component of your own personal productivity system.

A quick review

Let’s recap:

1. Define what’s important.
2. Build your goals and plans based on the important stuff.
3. Choose three key areas that will get you closer to your goals and help you action your plans.
4. Only start (and complete) tasks that fit within these three areas.
5. Rinse and repeat.

Related Posts:

– Seven Ways to Achieve Results
– My Unconventional Approach to Getting Things Done
– How I Tried to Send Myself Crazy
– 5 Things That Suck About Improving Your Personal Productivity
– the 5 Simplest Steps You’ll Ever Take to Simplify Your Life