1. Cut out what’s not important. The most efficient way to get through a task is to delete it. If it doesn’t need to be done, get it off your to do list. Many companies use a telephone answering service in order to handle their calls.
2. Daily goals. Without a clear focus, it’s too easy to succumb to distractions. Set targets for each day in advance. Decide what you’ll do; then do it.
3. Worst first. To defeat procrastination learn to tackle your most unpleasant task first thing in the morning instead of delaying it until later in the day. This small victory will set the tone for a very productive day.
4. Peak times. Identify your peak cycles of productivity, and schedule your most important tasks for those times. Work on minor tasks during your non-peak times.
5. Time Blocks. Allocate uninterruptible blocks of time for solo work where you must concentrate.
6. Mini-milestones. When you begin a task, identify the target you must reach before you can stop working. For example, when working on a book, you could decide not to get up until you’ve written at least 1000 words. Hit your target no matter what.
7. Make dents. Give yourself a fixed time period, like 30 minutes, to make a dent in a task. Don’t worry about how far you get. Just put in the time.
8. Early bird. Get up early in the morning, like at 5am, and go straight to work on your most important task. You can often get more done before 8am than most people do in a day.
9. Place of silence. Go to a place where you can work flat out without distractions, such as a library, park, coffee house, or your own backyard. Switch off your phone!
10. Agendas. Provide clear written agendas to meeting participants in advance. This greatly improves meeting focus and efficiency. You can use it for phone calls too.
11. Pareto. The Pareto principle is the 80-20 rule, which states that 80% of the value of a task comes from 20% of the effort. Focus your energy on that critical 20%, and don’t over-engineer the non-critical 80%.
12. Ready-fire-aim. Bust procrastination by taking action immediately after setting a goal, even if the action isn’t perfectly planned. You can always adjust course along the way.
13. Punctuality. Whatever it takes, show up on time. Arrive early.
14. Continuum. At the end of your workday, identify the first task you’ll work on the next day, and set out the materials in advance. The next day begin working on that task immediately.
15. Slice and dice. Break complex projects into smaller, well-defined tasks. Focus on completing just one of those tasks.
16. Single-handling. Once you begin a task, stick with it until it’s 100% complete. Don’t switch tasks in the middle. When distractions come up, jot them down to be dealt with later.
17. Delegate. Many businesses are now using a telephone answering service to handle their calls while they focus on their core business activities.
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