I just completed my 2011 Business Plan and one of my main focuses will be working smarter and not harder.  I came across the attached information from Ben Reinberg who is a commercial broker in Illinois.  He provided some great tips for personal productivity that I thought I would share.  Some of these you may already do, but it is a nice reminder heading into a new year:

  1. Use Lists – Plan Your Years, Months, Weeks, and Days

    Let’s begin with the basics: Planning. This is the foundation piece for ALL successful professionals! You must write out a list for what you want to accomplish daily, weekly, monthly, and even annually. If you constantly focus on the ‘daily stuff,’ it keeps you in the ‘react’ mode and you will never get to the ‘bigger stuff’.
    The act of writing down what you want to accomplish sharpens your thinking, and by simply using a list, your productivity will increase by 25% — WOW! So if you are used to going through the day keeping everything in your head, I suggest you begin writing it down – starting today. 
    An extremely powerful exercise is to work off of a master list you use for the year; have a planning meeting and map out the entire year, breaking things down into monthly, weekly, and even daily tasks.
    Plan daily each morning. If you prefer, you could do this nightly, thereby allowing your sub-conscious mind to get a head start the night before!
  2. Understand Tasks vs. Projects

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed with something on your list or if something is hanging over you, it’s probably a project and needs to be managed like a project. Break the project down into tasks – this will help you move faster and be in control.
    Brian Tracy recommends breaking projects up into 5 steps:

    1. Start with the completed result you want. For example, you might want a website consisting of 5 pages.
    2. List every step A-Z (be vigorous with this)
    3. Organize by sequence and importance. If any steps are out of order – rearrange or flag priority steps and move them up.
    4. Delegate tasks or assign responsibility.
    5. Track project as necessary.

When mapping out a project ask, “What could go wrong” and be prepared.

  1. Use the 80/20 Rule

    You’ve heard about Pareto’s 80/20 rule (Pareto was an Italian economist) where a vital few control the majority, right? 80% of your income, joy, and success come from 20% of your activities. Only 2 out of your current 10 activities are paying off.
    The trick is discovering the 20% that are paying off. Ask yourself what’s working in your business and what’s not. Identify the things that are generating the best results.
  2. Have a Single FocusStop allowing distractions! Work on a single outcome. It takes 5 times longer to work on a project if you start-stop-and start again. If you train yourself to plow through a task or project uninterrupted, you will complete it 5 times faster.
    If you allow people to intrude on you, you will never get anything done. The open door policy is ineffective and not meant for those who need to accomplish many tasks during the day!
    Use a timer to help you stay focused and set in 30-60 minute increments; the timer forces a mental and physical shift in focus.

  3. Delegate Everything PossibleLet’s get back to the 80/20 rule – identify the 80% of your activities that are not making you money but still need to be done. For example, returning certain calls. Whenever possible delegate these tasks to support staff.

  4. Get OrganizedStop saving everything – get lean! Clutter affects you not only physically, but it affects your mental capacity as well. Hire a professional organizer (www.napo.org/referral) and get help with this.
    There are two types – filers and pilers. Using extra large zip lock bags work extremely well for pilers (I’m getting a box of these today!); use them for projects, piles of notes on a related topic, general stuff, anything. The magic of these bags is they allow you to visually see the contents.
    The most useful file is the circular file(this is your trash can) – use it . 80% of what we file never gets looked at again. When in doubt – throw it out.

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