Who doesn’t love improving their personal productivity? I know I do! At ClientWise, we partner with financial advisors to help them ultimately become “the master of oneself “ or “self masters” so they may have a greater impact on others, especially their clients. Below are some great tricks to organize your time and get you through the “stuff” thrown your way on a daily basis.
One of the greatest productivity gurus of all time, David Allen, has helped hundred of executives clear the clutter, develop processes for time management, and create that sense of ease we all long to feel. Allen provides many great time management tips in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
Allen focuses on the idea that we have so much coming at us in the world today, that it becomes nearly impossible to be “fully present” when having conversations, sitting in meetings or even watching movies. Throughout Allen’s book he describes the 5-stage method for managing workflow. Below are some great hacks that have helped me improve my productivity.
Step One: Get it out of your head!
Yes, that right! Get all the “stuff” out of your head and write it down. Some people use fancy computer programs, apps (my favorite is Wunderlist), sticky notes, or simply a pen and paper. There is much satisfaction in writing things down and crossing them off your list in an analog way, however, I would recommend using an app that syncs to all of your devices so you can constantly collect thoughts and streamline information for your to do list from anywhere.
Step Two: Process what you collect!
You must ask yourself the following questions about each item you have collected. First ask yourself: What is it? Then ask: Is it actionable? There are only two answers.
If it’s NO: Trash it. Or, maybe it’s not needed now. In this case, put it in a tickler file and save for a later date. Does it contain useful information? File it somewhere else for later review in your reference list.
If it’s YES: Decide on a specific immediate next action, then put it in a related list. Once you’ve decided on a next action, you can do three of the following things (my favorite tip):
Do it. If the action takes less than two minutes, do it immediately.
Delegate it. Ask yourself am I the right person to do this? If not, give it to someone else.
Defer it. Track it on a related “next actions” list.
Step Three: You must stay organized!
Track all your “next actions” on related lists. If you process something that needs more than one action to complete, store it in a related Project list. Keep deferred items in a tickler file (future tasks list) or in a calendar. Most importantly, store “Next Actions” in lists that are related to that particular action, such as a lists labeled: "Phone" for phone calls you need to make; "Errands" for all the errands you need to run; "Computer" for everything that needs to be done using a computer; or "Reference" for all the reference material you may have.
Step Four: Get It Done!
Yes, the best part! Go on, get those things done! And most importantly, MARK THOSE COMPLETED ITEMS OFF! Keep in mind, there is a four criteria model for choosing actions to complete in the right moment that include: context, time available, energy available, and priority.
These 5 principals are designed to get everything out of your head and in a place where you know the ideas are safe, accounted for, and guaranteed to be addressed. This should give you a “mind like water,” which Allen describes as a state of mind in which you’re ready for what the world throws at you. Like water, your mind is resilient and can rebound to its original state of order and productivity, rather than get overwhelmed and feel paralyzed or frozen in the face of unexpected circumstances.
Step Five: Review at least weekly.
Review all of your actions weekly. Ensure you have everything nailed down to complete each particular project. Update or add items if you missed something from your action items list. Make any necessary changes if something has changed in your tickler file.
I trust this helps.