You guessed it, it's strategy time! I hope the anticipation hasn't been too much, I'd wanted to do this post a few days ago but (ironically) I didn't manage my time efficiently enough to do so.
Leading on from post 2 where I asked you to make a list titled 'What's in it for me?', I hope you've written down plenty of reasons why being efficient is a good idea, and how you will benefit from it.
Have you found your list keeps increasing since you started it, or is it short but sweet? Either way, I hope you discovered at least one important reason to change how you approach efficiency, and have realised by now that you WILL gain from doing so.
An incredible amount of information/ideas were shared and exchanged during the session and although they'll be ordered in a way I've personally found works best when incorporating them into daily life, you can choose to mix it up to suit you!
Key to anything in life, I've found increasing focus on being organised works miracles with efficiency. In both personal and work life I've found they compliment each other when organisation is done properly; for example time wasted in one area will lead to time wasted in another, and the stress caused by disorganisation has a knock on effect across the board.
So, how to improve organisation?
Get rid of paper; if you're never going to look at it again, get rid of it!
Everyone is weighed down by it: files are filled, finished notebooks pile up, scrap paper with notes on, old photos you never look at, read/unread books and magazines sit around aimlessly; it's unnecessary, and it's everywhere.
Make use of your phone/tablet/computer: take photos of important documents and save them to the iCloud/OneDrive (or whatever online based storage you prefer) before shredding and recycling because if it can be requested as a hard copy when/if needed in the future, you don't need to store it in the present. Recycle anything you no longer look at, take unwanted books to charity, give away/recycle old magazines, and start using electronic calendars and diaries!
Clutter kills efficiency!
Schedule, plan, prioritise.
Most devices these days have (at the very least) a basic calendar - use it! I rarely used mine before this session but it was one of the first things I dedicated time to sorting out afterwards. I've found it extremely helpful already because it helps me remember commitments, jobs to do, when I've dedicated time for tasks, appointments, and more! Not only that but depending on the event I have different timed reminder alarms, so for some its the day before, while others I find I a nudge 2 hours prior is more than enough - it's all about experimenting and seeing what works!
Dedicate 1 hour a week for what's known as a 'Power Hour', which is 60 minutes set aside to power through all those little tasks you need to do but leave for 'tomorrow'. It's time to say 'f**k it' and forget about tomorrow, it's an empty promise designed to make you feel better about not doing something and you deserve better than that. You owe it to yourself to declutter your mind of niggling jobs which sit in your subconsciousness and bug you every now and then; start a 'Power Hour' list, and write down any tasks which take 5-10 minutes.
Pick a day and time which suits your schedule and create a repeating weekly event called 'Power Hour' in your calendar - have a reminder alarm set for 30 minutes beforehand so you have time to prep. Get yourself physically pumped, put on music which gets you fired up, wear clothes that make you feel good and comfortable in - you need to be able to move - and get motivated!
TIP: Make sure your event has an end alarm to signal when the hour is up - the aim of the 'Power Hour' is to get shit done, it is not supposed to last longer than 60 minutes and inevitable lead to exhaustion from overexerting yourself.
If it only takes a minute, do it immediately.
The 'Power Hour' is not for 1-2 minute tasks, such as taking the rubbish out or bring the laundry downstairs; anything which takes such a small amount of time can and should be done immediately.
Recognise the importance of protected time.
As with the 'Power Hour' schedule a repeating weekly event for what's known as 'Protected Time', which I find works best on a separate day to the 'Power Hour' and with a longer (2 hour) time slot.
Interruptions are inefficient, they're distracting, and can stop a train of thought dead in its tracks; eliminate them. Ensure anyone else in the building is aware how important it is not to disturb you during this time, and have a way of signalling it's going on to anyone who may forget, for example by using a door sign.
Leave unnecessary electronics silenced and out of reach, turn off all notifications on any device you have to use during this time, and remove any other distractions from the work area.
Set an alarm for the end of the dedicated time so you don't over do it, because the longer you work without a break the less efficient you become. 2 Hours is the optimum time for uninterrupted sessions, but everyone is different and some prefer between 1h 30min and 2h.
Be conscious of how this time makes you feel, what you get done, and how much more you achieve - you may be pleasantly surprised!
Have you ever spent hours doing something which didn't need to be done? In fact it only served as a distraction from what you were supposed to be doing and enabled procrastination instead?
Well I'm going to tell you what you don't want to hear: stop it.
Do what you need to do, don't come up with new jobs to avoid the ones you dislike, it's a waste of time and has no purpose; be picky with your priorities!
I have now reached the end of my notes so I hope you find this list useful; even if you find only 1 or 2 suit you, I recommend trying them all for a few weeks and seeing which ones stick. Please don't give up if you struggle initially because forming new habits and changing/challenging old set ways isn't an overnight process, it takes time but will ultimately be worth it.
Efficiency is rewarding, and as you work on improving it I've no doubt you'll find new ideas and skills which help you personally so feel free to comment any additional advice at the bottom of this post - it would be great to see readers exchange ideas and expand on the list!
Good luck - you got this!