As the calendar prepares to turn to 2015, most of us are gearing up for the new year. We are making lists and planning our schedule. Most of us can already feel the anxiety of all that needs to be accomplished. How can we get it all done? Here are a few tips on how to organize your day for maximum productivity.
ORGANIZE YOUR DAY BY LARGE CHUNKS OF TIME
Peter Drucker says it well. "To have small dribs and drabs of time at [your] disposal will not be sufficient even if the total is an impressive number of hours." The important and creative tasks in life require large chunks of time for focus and reflection. If you try to fit them between meetings, phone calls and emails, you will be incredibly ineffective. It will take an hour to complete what should only take 15 minutes. That will leave you ineffective and frustrated. Effectiveness for creative work requires blocking off large chunks of time. The question for most of us is, "Where do I find large blocks of time?" Here are some suggestions. First, plan your week. Use a calendar that lays out a full week. Block off large chunks of time on the calendar Sunday night before the week begins. Second, think in terms of blocks of time, not action steps. Long lists of projects and action steps can leave you paralyzed. If you mark out blocks of time for important creative tasks, the action steps on big projects will automatically generate themselves during that focused time. Third, join the 5 a.m. club. Get into the office early before the phone calls. Use those the long uninterrupted early morning hours when your mind is fresh to focus on what needs to be done.
DO WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT FIRST
Do what is important first, not last. Beware of the small stuff. When our lists feel too overwhelming to get big things done we tend to opt for accomplishing numerous small tasks beforehand. While this gives us a sense of accomplishment because we cross items off our list, it helps us procrastinate on what is important and requires greater focus. In addition, small stuff tends to multiply. We find more small things to do and continue procrastinating on what is important. When we focus on completing our large important tasks first, the small stuff naturally fits into the cracks between larger projects.
DO ONE THING AT A TIME
We live in a multitasking world. While our computer can do more than one thing at a time, studies tell us our brain can not multitask. It can only task switch. Task switching actually results in a task taking longer and results in lower quality. This is why you sound like a deadbeat on the phone when you are scanning Facebook at the same time.
Studies also show that it is actually faster to concentrate on one task at a time and do tasks sequentially instead of doing multiple tasks in parallel. Peter Drucker underscores this in his book "The Effective Executive."
"If there is any one 'secret' of effectiveness, it is concentration," he wrote. "Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time ... The more one can concentrate time, effort, and resources, the greater the number and diversity of tasks one can actually perform ... Effective executives know that they have to get many things done -- and done effectively. Therefore, they concentrate -- their own time and energy as well as that of their organization -- on doing one thing at a time ... " Once we know the most important things to accomplish, it is essential we stay focused on them.
As you plan for a busy 2015, I hope this helps you organize your day to accomplish it.
BY REV. KURT TRUCKSESS
CROSSWINDS CHURCH, SPIRIT LAKE