Three Smart Ways to Plan Your Day For Higher Productivity

How many hours do you spend at work? Now, how many of those hours are spent on staying focused and productive? If you’re like most busy professionals, an honest assessment will show you spend very little time on bottom-line results.

Numerous reports and studies focus on the rule of 80/20, stemming from the work of Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. His 80/20 rule, often called the Pareto Principle, is how evolving research has found that, in general, 20 percent of efforts lead to 80 percent of results. (Indeed, many software management reports have discovered an even more disheartening finding of 90/10.)

Imagine the extraordinary results if you can devote dramatically more than 20 percent or even 30 percent (and more!) of your time to staying focused and productive!

A major cause of lost time and productivity is what I call Overwhelm. We are overwhelmed by too many meetings and unanticipated interruptions. We also suffer Self-Imposed Overwhelm that distracts us from our goals. We spend too much time with our cell phones and email. We suffer personal stress. We don’t avoid stress traps.

Here are three keys to planning your day for higher productivity.

KEY ONE: Find Your Peak Energy Time and Use It!

What time of day do you have the most energy? For many people, it’s mornings. I find myself freshest and ready to go in the morning, so I protect my Peak Energy Time by scheduling those hours for my most important work. I block out the time between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. each day for focused work and long-term planning.

Instead of forcing myself into a time frame when I am most resistant to creativity and action, I take control by establishing my own time frame for my most productive hours. My stress levels plummet when I’m in control of my Peak Energy Time, eliminating procrastination, helplessness and the resulting frustrations that can erode focus and productivity. Block out at least two hours during your Peak Energy Time.

o An Early Morning Person? Block out two early hour mornings.

o A Mid-Morning Person? Block out 10:15am – 12:15pm

o An Early Afternoon Person? Block out two early afternoon hours.

o A Mid-Afternoon Person? Block out 2:45pm – 4:30pm.

Regardless of the time of day you schedule as your Peak Energy Time, there are two productivity skills you must use to maximize your results.
1. Adopt the 100% Responsibility Rule. Recognize that you are responsible for your time. Take pro-active steps to stave off interruptions during this period to maintain control of your time.
2. Protect your Time Boundary. No one else will protect the boundaries of your scheduled Peak Energy Time. You must be responsible for protecting Your time boundary.

KEY TWO: Make Time for Marketing!

If you skip creating time each day for marketing yourself, your services or your products, you skip out on success. Period. No professional can afford to leave marketing by the wayside. Carve out an hour – better yet, two – during your day for marketing.
Use that time to connect or reconnect with clients, learn, research, expand your reach. You must nurture your own future or miss out on a profitable, productive career and lifestyle!

Here are a few ways to spend this crucial time of your day… for you:

o Call or email clients or prospects. Shine the spotlight on you!

o Create a marketing campaign. Research, write and revise!

o Plan a workshop, a demonstration or a training session – or find out how you can make yourself a part of another event. Maximize your reach!

o Create a news release to send out to the media and to your database. Pick up a phone and call a member of the news media. Make yourself newsworthy!

o Create an online newsletter with interesting articles. Build your audience!

o Start a blog. Blogs are the hot, hip way to maximize the power of the Internet to publicize your name and your ideas, and also to attract wide feedback so important to knowing why and how to best grow your business. Blog away!

o Learn how to use an automated marketing system. This will help you SAVE time in keeping track of and responding to your client and prospect database and buyer purchases, and become the basis for successful marketing campaigns.

o Learn how to capture email contacts. Capture emails of clients and prospective customers from your Web site, blog and e- newsletter by inviting readers to submit their name and email address in exchange for something valuable. For example, offer
FREE access to your newsletters to obtain this information.

o Make time to attend Ruth Klein’s Branding & Productivity Success Boot Camp March 4-5, 2007, in Santa Monica, California. (See Ruth Recommends below).

Learn 25 ways to capture email addresses and build your marketing database, and reap many more benefits. Maximize your marketing know-how and watch your business grow!

KEY THREE: Erase that Self-Imposed Overwhelm!

Learn how to leverage your time to avoid those self-imposed situations that overwhelm your day and distract you from your focus and productivity.

Here are a few ways to minimize distractions and maximize your results:

o Don’t answer your email when you first wake up (unless you’re an emergency worker). Wait until you first start your day with productive planning and vision time. Then answer your email. Take control at the very start of each day! Manage your email traffic. Instead of answering each email with another email, allow several to accumulate before crafting one comprehensive email response. Your answers will be much

o Take control at the very start of each day! Manage your email traffic. Instead of answering each email with another email, allow several to accumulate before crafting one comprehensive email response to your employees, colleague, clients, advertisers, etc.. Your answers will be much more astute, and best yet, it’s infectious! Let others take their cue from you on how to avoid daily email traffic jams.

o Delegate. Either delegate less important work to others or delegate your time to focus on the most important work first. Delegate at home, too!