5 ways to be more productive this fall
Labor Day weekend marks the end of another wonderful summer. No matter how busy you were, I hope you took some time off to enjoy traveling or hanging out with your friends and family. If you haven’t taken a break, there’s still time to enjoy a long weekend.
September is a busy month for retailers, especially those benefiting from back-to-school sales. Other business owners also start focusing on ways to end the year on a positive and profitable note. It’s a great month to launch a marketing campaign to attract new clients, close a pending deal or test a new product. But keeping up with everything you need to do every day is a challenge.
So, here are some of my favorite productivity-boosting tips guaranteed to reduce stress and streamline your day:
1. Don’t check email first thing in the morning. Restrain yourself from going online. Period. Don’t check your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Disable the Facebook and Twitter alerts. Instead, spend at least 90 minutes completing your highest-priority tasks, whether it is writing a proposal, returning important phone calls or meeting with employees or vendors. If you are serious about boosting your productivity, check your email on a set schedule, perhaps three times a day. Unless you are a trauma surgeon on call, most email messages can wait a few hours for a response. Take some time to think before hitting “send.” Responding to important inquiries on the fly can lead to poor decision-making, in my opinion.
2. Set a specific time every day to deal with your social media tasks. Spend no more than an hour posting updates, reading comments or sharing interesting links. Or, use the time to write a blog, link to a product review or other information that positions you as a thought leader. Every day, millions of hours are wasted by spending too much time on social media sites. Facebook and Twitter are marketing tools, not recreational outlets.
3. Schedule an hour a day for yourself. Break it into two, 30-minute sessions if that’s easier. Take a walk around the block, exercise or make personal phone calls to people who make you laugh. Do anything but work. Getting away from your office or at least shutting your door creates breathing space and reduces stress. When I’m grappling with a problem, I’m very likely to come up with a solution while taking a walk.
4. Schedule important phone calls. Nothing is worse that playing telephone tag with key clients or customers. Scheduling calls also gives you time to prepare and think about what you want to accomplish during the call. Be sure to confirm the call the day before. Check the time zone, and let the person know how long you expect the call to last. If it’s appropriate, consider using Skype or Face Time. I find video calls are very effective for catching up with people who are working on projects.
5. Delegate as many tasks as possible. Even if you are on a budget, hire a part-time, hourly assistant to open the mail, conduct competitive research and data entry. If you still write paper checks, let them pay the invoices, but don’t give them signing authority on the account. Focus on doing the things that only you can do – and do them well.