Quick Tips – Discipline

  • Do the task you LEAST look forward to first thing in the morning! Knock out those high-priority, yucky tasks right away, so they aren’t hanging over your head all day. Don’t procrastinate and put them off, or you’ll end up working late. Throughout the day, ask yourself, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” As the day grows short, focus on projects you can least afford to leave undone.
  • Schedule personal appointments on your calendar, so you can concentrate on high-priority projects. Sneak away to a conference room or empty office if possible, to minimize the chances for interruption.
  • Stop wasting the first hour of your workday! Having the chat and first cup of coffee, reading the paper, and socializing are the three costliest opening exercises that lower productivity.
  • Many times interruptions don’t come from the outside. We interrupt ourselves, acting like a butterfly—flitting from one task to another. It takes valuable time to start and stop work on each activity. Instead, act like a postage stamp—stick to one thing until you get there! Even Montessori pre-school teachers tell four-year-olds to stick with a task until it’s done. If kids do it, you should do it, too.
  • If you’re procrastinating about starting an important project, perhaps it’s too daunting. Try the “salami technique”—break it up into small slices. Instead of looking at a large 20-hour project, you can think of it as 10 two-hour projects.
  • Because there are so many demands on our time than ever before, we need to be more selective. Before starting a task, ask yourself, “Do I really need to be doing this now, or is there a better time?” And “Is this the best use of my time RIGHT now?” By becoming more conscious of how you spend your time, you can gain more control over it.
  • Pay attention to your peak energy times. The mid-morning hours are often the most productive and a good time to handle important tasks, major decisions, and items that require complex thought. Force yourself to “knuckle down” and do your work during this time; we are usually “up” and enjoy socializing and wasting time instead.
  • Try to give yourself the first two hours of your workday to concentrate. Attempt to steer meeting times around it, let the phone go to voice mail, don’t check your email, and schedule later times with drop-in visitors. You’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish in two hours of focused concentration.
  • Sometimes a change of scenery can be a real productivity booster. The next time you need a block of uninterrupted time to finish a report or research a project, move into an empty office or book a conference room. If your schedule permits, you may choose to work at home or at a local library for a couple of days. A change of scenery not only curbs interruptions, it also gives you a fresh perspective.