Managed Chaos…. That is what my life seems like most days. Running a business, dealing with arrogant insurance defense lawyers, claims adjusters, being a husband, father of 5 children, being involved in church, involved in my community, coaching football, meetings, speaking, …. Sometimes it is overwhelming.
I spend a lot of my time simply managing my time. It is a continual improvement process, and I never seem to always get it quite right. However, here are the Top 5 actions that have helped me improve my day and help me get things done. A lot of this is just plain ole common sense, but hopefully some of these will help you as they have me.
- Daily To-Do List. A written plan every day is a great start. After my morning quiet/prayer/meditation time, this is the next thing on my daily list. This seems so simple, yet it is imperative as my to do lists grow gargantuan size.
- Taking small steps. When I began writing my first book, it seemed daunting to me. It was so overwhelming that I was paralyzed due to the amount of work that goes in to it, that I wound up doing nothing for a long time. I decided to break it into small bites and gave myself time to present a small part of it, just one chapter a week. Before long, it was done! It takes a long time to eat an elephant. Just start one small bite at a time.
- Turn off all notifications on iPhone and Outlook. I know it sounds scary. You WILL live and make it through this, then you will thank me. This was a big deal for me. I am self-diagnosed with severe Attention Deficit Disorder. I don’t need to stop what I am doing on my computer just because someone sent me an e-mail. I have not missed any emergencies. My wife and office know to call or text me if they need me.
- Time Blocking. I block my entire week every Friday afternoon. I schedule my next week, including times I will return calls, and my staff knows not to interrupt me during my blocked session times unless it is an emergency.
- Scheduling Return Calls. My business mentor suggested this technique and it has been a valuable time saver. I can’t just take every single call when it comes in. These calls are scheduled for a mutually convenient time that both sides agree to engage.
I would highly suggest a book, The 12 Week Year, by Brian Moran. This book launched my productivity. It is common sense, but sometimes, common sense is not so common.
What works for you? What is something you have found makes you work smarter, and not harder? If you have a suggestion that you would be willing to share, please let me know and I will publish it in my next newsletter.