Thursday, January 19, 2012

On Being Productive

I got an e-mail a few years ago about someone who was going to mail a letter, but first they were going to finish washing the car, but had to go inside to get the car keys, and saw the remote and needed to put it away, on the way there they saw a can of coke and needed to put it away before it got knocked over, and saw their glasses, and ….

At the end of the day they can’t find the remote, didn’t remember where their glasses were and the bills still weren’t paid, but they were tired, and had been busy all day, but nothing seemed to be done.

Have you ever started the day with great big plans on all the things you want to accomplish before you collapse into bed at the end of a day and think, wow, what a great day?  Then at the end of that said day while brushing your teeth you look in the mirror and wonder, what happened, all the great ideas just didn’t happen today?

Perhaps something unforeseen loomed up and snatched your day from you.  Something urgent derailed where you were heading.  Those things do happen.  Life happens when you are making other plans. 

However, (there is always a however, isn’t there?)  However, more than likely you sidetracked yourself.  Something caught your eye and sapped that productivity you were so game at the start of the day.  Someone left the TV on.  (Okay, you turned on the TV) just watch the news, and then….  Three hours later you wake up and say opps,  I gotta get this done…..

Or check e-mail, then twitter, then……    An hour and a half have been gobbled up.

Angry Birds

I’ll do a quick check on…..

You get the idea.  All these gadgets that have news, info, etc can and often do eat up our time.  Someone posted on their blog that they were not going to post as much on their blog, or spend as much time in the forums, or tweet because they wanted to get more of their things done and they found that the time on the internet was taking away from the time they wanted to spend on other things. So they were going to shut down the blog for a while.

I’ve read a few other bloggers saying they were going to cut back to do other things as well.  I took a week off a few weeks ago myself.  So yes, we set priorities, and sometimes some of the fun things we enjoy doing have to take a backseat to something that has a higher priority.

So here are a few tips to stay on track.

1.  Check e-mail once a day.  Yes I know the new phone chimes every time something arrives in your inbox, but set up a time to do e-mail things and stick to it.

2.  Pick one or two TV shows if you need down time in front of the TV.  Then shut it off.  Or if you have that DVR or TIVO or whatever, record the show and watch it on your time frame.  You can fast forward through the ads and watch the show in less time.

3. Set a time limit for your “break”  I’m going to play this computer/video/whatever game, but I’m only going to play for x minutes.  Or to this level or what ever.  Then shut it down when you reach that point.

I think you see where I’m going with this.  Recreation and breaks are great.  They are needed.  But too often we indulge and spend more time in those areas and never get what we really wanted to do done.  There are reasons we put off doing those other things and I’ll talk about those reasons next week, but in the meantime work on that self discipline and set up your limits so you can increase that productivity.

What are some of the things that chew up your time?  Any tips you’d like to share?  What works for you, or what doesn’t?


E. M. LaBonte said...

Thanks for the tips. I find myself easily distracted by e-mail, social sites and blog surfing. So I cut 2hrs of my day going through those before hunkering down on what I've got planned for the day. Sometimes it works, other times, not so much. The effort is there though, and I only have to kick myself in the butt about once a week.

Dean C. Rich said...

At least you've got a plan, and time limits. Kudos on kicking yourself in the butt, a lot of folks don't even do that.