We live in a world of information overload, time-saving and time-wasting technologies, how to do 3 days of work in 1, and let’s not forget the “I need all of that and a bag of chips…for yesterday” because what once took 4 months to accomplish can now be done in 60 minutes!

Now has never been a better time to assess your effectiveness and productivity levels and really look at what actions, habits or behaviours are not serving you well.

Here are 3 major productivity killers.

KILLER #1: Putting off the tough stuff.
Everyone’s done this at some point or another as it’s human nature to try and avoid the tough stuff that causes us stress. Here’s the thing: putting off the hard stuff will only lead you to procrastination, and as the deadline weighs on you, you’ll find that putting the task off has not only increased the level of pressure, but it has also blown the whole thing out of proportion. ‘Cause let’s face it, the tough tasks rarely go away! The more you procrastinate, the bigger and uglier the task gets. Period.

SOLUTION: Get the tough stuff done first!
As difficult, stressful or unpleasant as the task may seem, getting started is the key to gaining momentum. It’s critical to grab the bull by the horns and get moving immediately. Schedule a block of uninterrupted time (a.k.a. bubble time) in your calendar and get started. Commit to that time with the same respect you would a client meeting. Break the task down into manageable chunks so that you don’t get overwhelmed, and systematically work through each chunk to achieve completion and create momentum. This will increase your level of motivation and before you know it, the task will be done. A task is rarely as BIG as it SEEMS to be.
BONUS TIP: Shorten your deadlines. It will allow you to keep it simple and effective.

KILLER #2: Having too many Urgent and Important Priorities.
Being able to differentiate between what’s Urgent and what’s Important is key. Not all important tasks are urgent and not all urgent tasks are important.

SOLUTION: My Week Planner. The most important thing Margarita and I do every Friday is to review the past week and plan the next one. Our weekend does not start without that step. Learning to plan your week in advance, and in order of importance, is key to increasing effectiveness. One should not have more than 1 Mission Critical and 1 Non-Negotiable per day. Use this template as a base to organize your weekly priorities at a glance.

KILLER #3: Looking at emails first thing in the morning.
And we all do it. Well…I have stopped. And since I have stopped, my productivity level has increased dramatically and from the same token, my stress level has significantly decreased.

SOLUTION: STOP looking at your inbox first thing in the morning. Setup your Email Program so that you can send emails without receiving them to not get distracted by the “incoming” when you only need the “outgoing”. I recommend to only look at emails 2-4 times a day in pre-determined times and NOT first thing in the morning. It will only throw you out of whack and most of the time…for what? For no other reason than finding yourself taking on other people’s urgent stuff. Don’t you have enough of your own?

Now, having said that, if you’re a heart surgeon on call, you may want to ignore this last tip, but for most of us, looking at our emails only once we have done a good hour of non-interrupted work is hugely valuable.

Try it, and let me know how it goes.

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