1.Never Touch Things Twice
That’s it. Never put anything in a holding pattern, because touching things twice is a huge time-waster. Don’t save an email or a phone call to deal with later. As soon as something gets your attention you should act on it, delegate it or delete it.
2. Eat Frogs
To pull this off you’re going to have to eat some frogs. “Eating a frog” is doing the least appetizing, most dreaded item on your to-do list. If you let your frogs sit, you waste your day dreading them. If you eat them right away, then you’re freed up to tackle the stuff that excites and inspires you.
3. Fight The Tyranny Of The Urgent
You’ll also need to master the tyranny of the urgent. The tyranny of the urgent refers to the tendency of little things that have to be done right now to get in the way of what really matters. This creates a huge problem as urgent actions often have little impact. The key here is to delete or delegate. Otherwise, you can find yourself going days, or even weeks, without touching the important stuff. You’ll need to get good at spotting when putting out fires is getting in the way of your performance, and you’ll need to delete or delegate the things that hinder real forward momentum.
4. Say No
No is a powerful word that you’re going to have to wield. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully and efficiently fulfill them. Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression. Learn to use no, and it will lift your mood, as well as your productivity.
5. Check Email On A Schedule
If you aren’t going to touch things twice, you can’t allow email to be a constant interruption. You should check email on a schedule, taking advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender. Set alerts for your most important vendors and best customers, and save the rest until the scheduled time. You could even set up an autoresponder that lets senders know when you’ll be checking your email again.
6. Avoid Multitasking
To make my system work, you’re also going to have to avoid multitasking. It’s a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford University confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.
Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully. Never touching things twice means only touching one thing at a time.