There is enough time in the day: Part 1 -- Personal productivity

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The reality is that increasing personal productivity is like a diet -- it's not a one-size-fits-all methodology. However, if you don't have a framework, it can be overwhelming to put together an effective program that meets your unique time management needs while completing the right tasks and projects that propel your business forward.

4 steps

The following four steps can help you focus on your goals and increase your personal productivity:

1. Set goals

Jen Butler, MEd.Jen Butler, MEd.

This first step is the difference between basic time management and increasing personal productivity. Knowing your goals allows you to measure your results, which in turn determines your level of productivity. Without an end result, you're merely working on a lot of tasks without strategic achievement.

Start by creating three to four overarching goals for your business that create the level of growth and forward movement you desire for a specific length of time. This can be as short as one month but no longer than a year. Under each goal, make a list of projects to be completed that will get you to your goal.

2. Create your to-do list

By to-do lists, I am not talking about the Post-it notes you have all over your desk, the pieces of scrap paper taped to your computer, or the reminders you keep (and never look at again) in your email program. This is a to-do list like you've never used before -- a useful one.

Take a piece of paper and a pen, and at the top of the paper write: "Goal No. 1: [Name of goal]." Now make a list of all the necessary steps to complete your project. Don't overthink, just write.

“Without an end result, you're merely working on a lot of tasks without strategic achievement.”

When you've exhausted your ideas, go back and review your list:

  1. Is each step specific with details?
  2. Is each step a baby step? This means that if the task seems to make you nervous or overwhelmed then it's too big.
  3. Is each step results-orientated and linked back to your goal?
  4. Is each step measureable?

Do this for each of your projects.

3. Prioritize your steps

Prioritization is saying yes to the right things and knowing what should be discarded if it does not support your goal. It's about making sure you have a systematic way of identifying the activities that are high-priority and the ones that are not. Without this, the clutter of your daily tasks gets in the way of the important steps and keeps you from higher personal productivity.

The most successful priority matrix is called the Eisenhower Matrix, in which you categorize items by their level of importance and urgency:

  1. Urgent and important: Tasks you will personally complete immediately
  2. Important but not urgent: Tasks to be scheduled to do later by you or someone else
  3. Urgent but not important: Tasks to delegate
  4. Neither urgent nor important: Tasks not relevant to completing your project after all

Once you have your steps organized by priority, you're ready to execute. Many people fail in completing projects because they jump in and act too early, focusing on the wrong steps of their projects. It's at this point that personal productivity is achieved because of your planning.

4. Track

Finally, determine a way you will track the progress of each step and the person responsible for its completion.

Part 2 of this series will focus on how to create time within your clinical space, and the final installment will focus on administrative duties and daily tasks.

Jen Butler, MEd, is the CEO and founder of JB Partners. For business coaching and consulting, leadership, and stress management services, contact her at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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