Working with rock star productivity is awesome. You get stuff done like nobody else, and let’s face it, you’re the envy of colleagues and competitors alike! If you want that, but don’t feel like shelling out a thousand bucks for an expensive time management consultant, why not go the do-it-yourself way?
I know you’ve got the chops for it. So, roll up your sleeves, grab yourself a beer, and get ready to start building your productivity power house.
Assembly Instructions — Not!
Now, I know a handyperson like you doesn’t need 100 pages of assembly instructions, so I’m just going to give you one single rule to follow:
Spend 20 minutes every day thinking about how you can do things smarter.
Not how you can get more work done, but how you can do things smarter. Can you make more money per hour? Can you process your emails more efficiently? Can you spend less time on shopping and cooking? Is there a way to keep your office and apartment tidy with less hassle?
The answer to all of these questions is “yes”; and by getting to it every day, you’ll find a way in no time.
Your Tool Box
Alright, no detailed manual then, but you do need a tool box. Here are two basic instruments all craftsmen should have at their disposal:
A system is a pre-defined sequence of steps to get a repetitively occurring task done. The better the system, the more efficiently the task is performed. You should try to install and improve systems in your workflow wherever you can.
A basic example: I just assigned an MS Word short-cut key to the action of accepting changes that my editor makes to my blog posts. That’s a simple thing to do, but it enables me to go through the corrections at least 25% faster.
Think of similar opportunities:
- Assign short keys and macros on your computer.
- Have your emails auto-sorted into appropriate folders.
- Install software that automatically backs up your data at specified intervals.
- Use a system of categorized storage boxes to keep your apartment in order.
- Set up standing orders to pay your bills.
- Place a “No Advertisements” sign on your mailbox so that you’ll have less paper to throw away.
- Write a FAQ document for your customers, or improve the one you already have, to reduce the number of customer service requests.
- Buy a larger freezer, so you can store more food and need to go shopping less frequently.
- Hang decorations on the wall instead of placing them on shelves to avoid having to dust around them.
- And there’s so much more you can do! Analyze your workflows and come up with your own ideas.
The second powerful tool in your box is the use of upgrades. Use your daily 20 minutes to
- hunt for a better paying job;
- search for more qualified people to work with;
- teach yourself a new skill that improves your own value as an employee; or
- brainstorm upgrades yourself!
Steal the Steel
Even with these pointers, finding materials for your productivity power house can at times be tough. Luckily, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, look around and get inspired by the experience-hardened ideas in the Pick the Brain archives.
You’ve got what it takes. Now spit on your hands and start hammering your way to rock star productivity!
Lucas Kleinschmitt is a time management coach who teaches you personal productivity, made in Germany, at his blog German Efficiency.
Photo Credit: Lenny Montana
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