Small changes can make a noticeable difference in your life and your business.
Even if you only have small bits of time to devote to making your business better, this can add up.
Perhaps the easiest way to improve productivity without adopting a ton of new organizational systems and habits is to simply learn to think about your time and priorities differently. If you can do this, then your productivity will shift all on its own. Rethinking your time and priorities is the key.
This is not just any productivity tips article. This should change how you think about your schedule and priorities. Here’s how to create your own productivity shift.
Know your productivity, time, and responsibilities
Before you begin actively making changes, it helps to see the bigger picture of where your time and efforts are going. You need a self-audit of your work and personal productivity. This starts with a snapshot of your business.
Consider each of these areas:
- Your workload: Think about what you’re doing now. How do you feel about your workload? Are you doing too much, not enough, or about the right amount of work every day?
- Your list: Consider what you should be doing to meet your goals. Are you getting everything done, or do you feel overwhelmed?
- Your time: Are you happy with how you’re using your time? Do you feel like you have enough time for everything you want to do?
To develop your own business productivity snapshot, try these steps:
- Review your to-do list and look for items that consistently aren’t getting done. Look for trends. Is there a particular type of activity you hate doing?
- Keep a time diary for one week. There’s often a ton of free time hidden inside our schedules. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Americans spend half of their leisure time watching TV, or almost three hours a day, even if they have busy work schedules. These hours of TV watching often don’t feel particularly restful, but they still eat away at the average American’s time. Tracking your time in a spreadsheet for a week or two is one way to see if your time is really going to the activities you want to spend it on. Time and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam has free information on her site about time tracking and mind-blowing statistics about how people actually use their workweeks.
Once you have an accurate picture of what’s really going on, it’s time for a change.
Try President Eisenhower’s productivity tips
The 34th president of the United States found a ton of things to get done with his time. He’s known today as the founder of NASA, the president who launched the U.S. highway system, and the politician responsible for the Atomic Energy Act, which brought about peacetime uses for nuclear power. That’s not all he did, either. How’d he get everything done?
Self-improvement expert James Clear notes that Eisenhower had an amazing gift for prioritizing where his time went. Here’s how he did it. He categorized his to-do list into four groups:
- Urgent and important work (do this as soon as possible); Example: seeing patients
- Important, but not urgent work (schedule it); Example: marketing tasks
- Urgent and not important (delegate if possible, these are tasks someone else can do); Example: most administrative tasks
- Neither urgent nor important (minimize or avoid doing these tasks); Example: social media browsing
When time is very limited, these are four priority levels you can use to fill the time you do have. Do the first category now, and schedule the second category so it’s not ignored. If you have a chiropractic assistant or office personnel, category three is perfect for delegating. The fourth category is for things that are so unimportant that they should be eliminated completely from your work.
Concentrate on one task
Studies show that it takes us almost 30 minutes to get focused again after a distraction. Little distractions add-up. Every time you stop to check your email, follow up with someone, check something online, or get up for a cup of coffee, you’ve essentially lost half an hour of your time.
Want to combat distractions? Try setting aside focused blocks of time to get a full task done. You’ll need:
- A timer for 50 minutes
- A notebook or pad of paper and a pen
- Your task
While the timer is going, you can’t check your email, look at your phone, or do anything outside of your task. The notebook is for writing down thoughts and distractions that happen during the timer. If you think of something important, write it down and you can safely forget about it until the timer is up.
Of course, this method only works if you have time to set aside for being distraction-free. If you’re on call and need to respond to patient emergencies, save this strategy for an hour when you can completely and safely focus on tackling your to-do list.
Bringing your productivity together
In all, becoming more productive is a process. You don’t have to be perfect. Just trying these methods will likely reveal more about your time and free time. Be kind to yourself and take one step forward at a time.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. “American Time Use Survey.” BLS.gov. Published: June 2018. Accessed: March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm
Clear, James. “How to Be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the ‘Eisenhower Box.’” Jamesclear.com. Accessed: March 2019. Retrieved from: https://jamesclear.com/eisenhower-box