"But you're so busy"
"I was going to call you but, I figured you were too busy..."
"I wanted to ask but, you seemed so busy I felt bad."
"I don't know how you get so much done, you must be so busy."
I hear that a lot. The truth is, yes. I'm busy. But I'm not that busy. I am not usually one of those epic working machines that makes it routine to stay up until 1am, and gets up again at 5am for east coast conference calls like some people do. I'm pretty sure I'd die.
Everyone seems obsessed with productivity tips and hacks these days. We are all trying to do and be and accomplish so much.
Here are the simple things I do each day to keep my schedule (and head) clear and moving forward.
Identify all the landmines on Monday.
It's pretty universal advice to do your worst tasks in the morning. I like to double down, and identify all the "landmines" for the week and knock them out of the way on Monday. I don't schedule any meetings. I drink a coffee, I turn up the hip hop in my headphones, adopt a "get S$*! done attitude" and handle it all. It usually takes a couple hours max. I can spend the rest of the week focusing on other things.
Keep a schedule
I schedule my week in a physical planner and only put the details of meetings and events in my phone. This works because meetings and events are usually what need to be shared with others, frequently changed and referenced. It requires an additional (small) step of cross checking, but it also makes sure I don't end up filling my schedule with meetings and not actually getting things done that are aligned with my priorities. We tend to look at a day, see we have no meetings scheduled, and think that we have an entire unscheduled day, when this is never actually the case. I use Danielle LaPorte's Weekly Planner.
When things get straight-up crazy, block your time.
I don't like to live by a constantly time blocked schedule. I tried it and I was miserable. But during really busy weeks with a lot going on, or times when I feel things slipping I will time block. It's important assurance there is a time and a place scheduled for everything that needs to get done.
Only check email 3 times per day.
This is a really hard one - especially for me. When things start feeling overwhelming and out of control I go back to this, and it always helps SO much. I check my email in the mornings (when I check for landmines, meeting cancellations, etc.) then again around noon, and again in the afternoon. It's hard because a lot of us use our email as a filing system, so we continually hop in there to reference or search for something and end up reading new messages. I think it helps just to strive for this.
The Answer to everything is No. Unless it's Yes.
I say no to almost everything. Seriously, everything. Which felt completely unnatural to me at first, because I am naturally a Yes person. But things got so much better when I embraced "No." I now say No to almost everything that doesn't align with my priorities. For example, if you say yes to lots of random networking events or parties that aren't growing sales for your business, then you should probably examine your priorities and motivations for going to them. It will clear a ton of time in your schedule.
Want to read more on this topic? Check out this post: Start being more productive and achieve better results in 7 days.
Keep on keepin' on