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How to be more productive in 2017

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With a new year now upon us, it’s a good time to review how well you use your time.

Questions to consider include: How efficient are you in terms of using your time effectively to achieve and exceed your objectives? Are you running all the time and never truly on top of your inbox, your to-do list and your workload? Are you proactively planning time on your calendar to progress your development projects and grow your business?’

If you are like many small business owners you are likely to find the 80:20 rule takes over: 20 per cent of your time provides 80 per cent of your revenue/goal achievements.

Think about that slowly and honestly. During your working week, it is likely that all the energy and effort you put into four days every week produced only one-fifth of your results.  Yet one day in each week produced 80 per cent.  

So often we allow ourselves to become caught up in the demands and needs of others or react to activities and events and lose sight of what we need to be doing to achieve our goals. We work hard, even burn out, but our actions are not focused on the best ways in which to achieve the results that are critical to our success.

Typically we attend meetings or participate in conversations that are not likely to move us forward, and we know this before we act. In addition, we ignore our own ‘body clock’ by trying to work on issues when our minds are tired and our energy is low.  

The following tips should help you manage your time more effectively: 

• Review your use of time during a recent three-month period, perhaps September to November last year, and identify the percentage of events that were truly productive. Be honest with yourself and admit the percentage that was unproductive 

• Plan to say ‘no’ to unproductive meetings; unsubscribe from timewasting email flashes; resist Facebook temptations and focus on planning and implementing productive activities

• Document your goals for the coming period and compile detailed action plans for each, including sub-goals, specific actions and time targets

• When planning your actions ensure they are ‘focused’. Meet people who are the decision-makers when selling; use social media wisely and productively to grow your market; establish systems that avoid repetition and time-wasting 

• Diarise actions in line with the action plans. Book time with ‘yourself’ for planning and work that you do alone, and treat these ‘self-meetings’ in the same way as a meeting with a client, with no interruptions and no excuses not to attend

• Remind yourself daily that you are now focusing on activities that result in 80 per cent of your time being proactive and productive. There will always be a small number of activities which are ‘nice to do’ or you feel you wish to do; the secret is to control the percentage

Your time and energy are limited and once spent cannot be recouped, so use yours well and feel a renewed sense of achievement and success, along with improved personal balance.

Helen Anco is a personal development coach and mentor