I have so many projects, I don’t know where to start….
At work, with your sideline business or for life in general, I’ve observed that many people can’t manage their time well. They all have tons of things to do and work super hard over long hours. But the result is always the same; they can’t make it.
If you feel overloaded, under pressure, crumbling under your pile of work, this post is for you.
Honestly, it’s difficult because you want it to be that way. My boss once said:
You can keep shuffling paper all day. At the end of the day, you will have worked 10 hours in a row like donkey, but nothing will be done.
The problem is not if you are working hard or not, the problem is that you are not working on the right things. I’m known for my sense of productivity. I’m actually obsessed by efficiency. If there would be a religion based on effectiveness, I would be one of their greater preachers ;-). I have never believed that working long hours was the solution to achieve any task. Get smart instead. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned to make sure I keep my focus on the right thing.
One of the biggest time consuming items in your life (after traffic, lol!) is probably email managing. In order to become efficient, you need to have a clear view of what has to get done. You need to look at the entire forest, not just the tree in front of you. If you attack one task after another, you’ll be a good soldier, but you will never lead the army.
What bugs me the most is my mailbox. I can’t start my day with an inbox full of email. This is why I always start my day by cleaning it out. In reality, there are only a few emails requiring immediate attention. Chances are that it’s not even 1 a day! This is why I scan through all my emails, delete the ones that are useless, forward a good part of them to other people who can work on them and answer 1 or 2 crucial emails in the morning. This way, I know that my mailbox is almost empty and the rest could be cleared towards the end of the day.
Each morning, after cleaning my inbox, I look at my week and at my day. I make a list of things I absolutely need to finish. Those are added value task that nobody could do. I’m not here to shuffle paper, I’m here to add value to my company; regardless if it’s my employer or my own company. The point is to add value when you work on something.
The short list will lead to the rest of my day and help me prioritize tasks. Every time a new thing to do hits my desk, I look at my quick list and determine if it should be part of it or not. Most of the time, it shouldn’t. So I put this task aside and continue my focus. I do exactly the same thing with my online company: focus on my quick list and put the rest aside.
Towards the end of the day, I have less “brain energy” so I can handle the rest of my emails, shuffle paper around and clean up other small tasks. The important things have been done, so I can spend time on things that don’t matter as much.
People say you need to take a step back to have a clear view. I don’t think it’s appropriate. I think you need to run a mile, go to the top of a mountain and then turn back and look at the big picture. At each beginning of the year, I take an hour or two to make my plan for the year. This plan is good for my day job, my online company and my personal life.
I listed my goals for 2013 for my personal and online business aspects on this blog. I do the same thing at work to make sure I’ll be on target with my objectives. You know what? This is why I never fail at doing a good job at work ;-).
It all starts from setting your priorities. Most people don’t know which priority to set as first. I find it easy: take the one that adds the most value. I have seen people working on 10 sites at a time and my questions was: why don’t you focus on your top 2 earners and see if you have time left for the rest?
We have been putting a lot of projects on the shelf throughout the years for this reason. I don’t have the time to work on a super project? That’s not a problem, let’s put it on the shelf and work on a super project that is already working and generating money. In 2012, we had an insurance website project. We clearly don’t have the time to build it right now. So we just forgot about it and have focused on other money earners. This year, my main project is a membership website. Last year it was my book. You know what? I’m still selling 40 books per month after almost 9 months since we launched it.
So keep this in mind: choose what bring the most value as your priority. It’s not that complicated once you use this single rule, is it?
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