There are so many articles and lessons on productivity, so many that I quit reading them a long time ago. The thing is, they all sounded great but didn’t do anything to actually make me stick to whatever process they were trying to teach. You know the steps they all preach and, like me, probably did them for about a half a day. The problem is, no matter how well my list of things to do is organized, or what order I plan to do them in, I either get side tracked, or I just look at the task and say to myself “That’s a lot of work, I don’t want to do that.” However, I have picked up a few little tricks that have worked for me, and hopefully they will work for you, too.
Set mini goals. If you set a goal for yourself to make 50 phone calls today when you don’t normally make 50 phone calls a day, I would put money on you not making 50 phone calls today. The problem is, if you find a reason not to make those 50 phone calls today you’re not going to make any phone calls. I know I’m not going to make 50 calls, unless I get a huge wave of motivation (which does happen sometimes). So instead, I commit to making one phone call. That’s right, just one. Making one phone call is so easy that I don’t care how lazy I’m feeling or how busy I am, I can make that one phone call. Is one phone call going to do a whole lot for you? Maybe, but probably not. However, once I’m done with that one phone call I will usually make another one. I might keep going until I have 10, 20, or even 50 done. I might stop after one. The point is, if I’m not going to do 50 I will at least do one. That’s better than none at all. And most of the time I make more than one.
Learn to say “no”. If every time somebody asks you to do something you say yes, and do it, they’re going to keep coming back to you for favors and keep eating into your time to be productive. If you don’t have the time to do something, or just don’t want to, say “no”. I know, it’s hard. I’m a people pleaser, saying no is hard for me. The trick is, commit to saying no to the next person that asks you a favor (unless it’s really important, use your judgement). You don’t have to be rude about it, just say you’re really busy or something. Doing it this one time will prove to yourself that you can do it. You only have 24 hours in a day, spend more of them on the things you want to spend them on, don’t donate them to others every day.
Set up a calendar. You need to be able to do the last one for this to work. This is easy if you already use a calendar on your phone or computer to keep your schedule. Go out until next week, or the week after if you’re already booked up next week, and schedule some time for the things you keep putting off; ie. cold calling, following up with old clients, any form of prospecting, the things you know you should be doing to keep your pipeline full. You don’t have to go crazy with it, but block off some time each day for those tasks. When somebody wants to set up an appointment with you and it falls on your blocked out prospecting time, tell them you’re booked at that time. You have a very important meeting that you just can’t reschedule. The truth is, it really is important. During this time, act like you really are in a meeting. Silence your phone, log off of facebook and twitter. You can call people back when you’re done. If you want to take it a step further, start having scheduled call back times. Instead of trying to answer every call and dropping what you’re doing to call somebody back, simple set up two times during the day to return calls and emails. You can put it right on your voicemail greeting “I will be returning calls between this time and that time”. You can even set up an autoresponder for your email that can say “I have received your email. I will be replying to emails between this time and that time.”
Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to productivity. If you’re reading this, then you’re already not getting the 100 things on your list done each day. You don’t have to go from all to nothing. If you can’t make time for yourself and for your tasks, the list will never get easier to complete. If somebody keeps asking you to help them with their productivity, maybe you should send them to this post!