This is the final post in a series focused on increasing your productivity. Previous posts have shared how to increase your productivity by prioritizing the big rocks, defining your values and goals, and prioritizing and planning based on your key roles. We also shared a simple tool to improve your work/life balance, a process for planning the week, the need to define measures of success and hold yourself accountable, and why considering your context, energy, and time available is important. This final post in the series discusses systems to schedule priorities and includes a video that demonstrates the prioritization system author Steve Musica uses.
The Importance of Scheduling Priorities
If you learn nothing else from our series on increasing your productivity, at least complete this sequence:
- Define your values
- Set short and long-term goals for each value
- Prioritize actions to achieve your goals
- Schedule your priorities
The final step, scheduling your priorities, helps ensure you focus on your big rocks. I am asking you to add your important but not urgent tasks to your calendar and not move them. If you want to optimize your life you need to ensure you prioritize your time in these areas. Some ideas include:
- Prioritize planning time in your schedule. I like spending time every evening reviewing goals but always schedule time at 8:00 AM on Monday morning to review my goals, priorities, and schedule.
- Prioritize your family time. Add your kids’ sporting events, dinner with your spouse, and calls with relatives directly into your calendar. Be intentional and make sure they get accomplished!
- Prioritize health and wellness. Schedule time for meals and exercise. I schedule exercise times every week and know I will cancel one time and move another one. The key is to at least get them prioritized in your schedule at the start of the week.
Selecting a Scheduling System
Many scheduling systems are available and will work. I suggest you use whatever you are comfortable with, links to your corporate system, and is easy to use. I personally use a google calendar that is shared with my iPhone. This allows me to schedule my priorities and keep track of my work meetings while also utilizing alerts.
It is often helpful to use multiple calendars. Both my iPhone and google calendar will show my work calendar along with my personal calendar and my spouse’s calendar all in one location. The drawback to this system is confusion over which calendar you are using at a given time. There are several times I have accepted a client meeting on my personal calendar instead of my work calendar or tried to schedule a work meeting from my private calendar.
Using Reminders and Task Lists
As we’ve explained previously, not every priority should be scheduled in your calendar. Take advantage of the technology in your smartphone to schedule tasks that should be completed based on your context or situation.
For example, if I want to call my associate Bob on my drive to work the next morning, I can ask my smartphone to “remind me to call Bob at 7:30 AM.” I know I’ll be on the road and free at that time.
For a client update call during a drive home from a meeting I can say: “remind me to call Mary when I leave this location.” My smartphone will identify the location I am at and only ping me with the reminder when I am back on the road.
Alternatively, you may want to keep your task list available and not use reminders. When you have time available to work on your tasks you can take a glance at the list and select whatever priority you can work on that fits the context, energy, and time available.
A System for Increasing Productivity
This video pulls together our tips and hacks for increasing productivity into one place by sharing the system that Personal Kaizen lead, Steve Musica, currently uses for scheduling priorities and increasing productivity. Please check it out below:
We hope this series of posts has given you some ideas you can implement. Please share your tips and hacks for increasing productivity in the comments below.