I was flying back from a speaking engagement and that’s when I felt it: that soreness in my throat and that oddly deep cough.
My first thought was “No…I can’t get sick this week, I have too much going on!”
We can’t choose when we get sick, but we can learn from it.
Like any good ex-consultant, I created a strategy to tackle my busy workweek while not feeling my best. Here’s the plan I used and 3 key steps to get more productive (even if you’re not sick.)
1) Get Focused and Delegate.
My first step was to take an honest look at my calendar for the week. What meetings weretruly mandatory for me? If it could get delegated or wasn’t mandatory, it was off my calendar.
Next, I looked at my to do list for the week. I had over 40 items that ‘had’ to get done. I postponed anything that wasn’t absolutely critical for the week, delegated some items to my intern and cut my list in half.
Why It Worked: I identified the highest order tasks (i.e., revenue driving or high exposure projects) and delegated everything else.
2) Let Go of Perfection.
I admit it. Sometimes, I can be a little “Type A.” Because I want things to be ‘perfect,’ I procrastinate on completing tasks (It’s the “if it can’t be perfect, I don’t want to do it” mentality.) However this week, things had to get done and I didn’t have enough energy to work past 3 pm. So, I let go of the expectation that it had to be 100% and instead aimed for 80%. And you know what? No one even noticed!
Why It Worked: I figured out the reason I procrastinate, eliminated my excuses, and just got things done.
3) Plan Your Breaks.
With 16 meetings and just 4 major projects for the week, my new to do list was a bit more realistic. I broke down the 4 projects into a bunch of 25-minute tasks. Luckily, there’s an app for that. The Pomodoro app enables you to complete tasks timed in 25 minute increments with a short 5 minute break in between. I just turned off all other distractions (i.e., email, phone, Facebook), concentrated for the 25 minutes and then got up and did something completely different for the break. (Truthfully, that meant playing Candy Crushon my iPhone for 5 minutes.) I planned for 2-4 sessions a day and whatever meetings I had and then I could sleep (or play more Candy Crush).
Why It Worked: Focusing on completing one task (instead of multi-tasking) helped me concentrate all my energy on getting the task completed. And then I got the reward of a break.
By focusing my limited energy and time on getting just my highest order tasks done, I was significantly more productive (2 new clients, 1 new partnership, 3 new speaking gigs signed, the highest views of one of my blog posts ever) than my normal workweek while getting the rest I needed!
Now, the only question running through my head is “Why can’t I do this every week?”
What about you? What tools or techniques have helped you become more productive? Comment below with your tips!
Original Photo: Paul Bradbury