Personal Productivity Secrets – Part 2

In the first article of this five-part series I left you with an action step. I instructed you to track every activity over the course of one week. You should have data that shows each activity and the amount of time it took to do it. So, by now you have five full days worth of information to process.

So how did you do? Whatever your results were, it is simply a snapshot of how you spend your time. It is time for a closer look and spot the time wasters.

The first time I did this exercise, the results were incredibly enlightening. I found out a lot about myself and the habits I kept. I finally grasped just how much time I spent avoiding the high-value, high-priority items. Incidentally, these items were also the highest paying projects on my plate.

The first surprise was to see how many actual billable or on-the-bench work hours I had during that week. I found out that I wasted more hours than I thought. I had procrastinated on projects a lot. I did a lot of low-value projects that could have been given to others to complete. I ran errands as an excuse to get out of the shop, even though someone else could have accomplished them just as easily. Email and text messages flowed steadily, interrupting the momentum I would again, have to build up. Break times were longer than the 15 minutes allotted and more than a few stretched to a half an hour. All the while rationalizing to myself “I’m the boss. I don’t have to be so strict with my time”.

In general, I discovered a lot of bad habits. Bad habits that were preventing me from producing more. I realized that the income I was earning was coming from less than half of time I spent in the shop. The rest of the time was spent doing jobs that didn’t really focus on my unique skill set. Jobs I should have delegated to another capable person.

So now what do you do with the data you collected? If I were you I would identify all the things that you are currently doing that add little or no value to your income and do one of two things. Delete them. Delegate them. Replace that time with meaningful work that produces tangible results.

In the next article, we will take a look at your daily habits. Which habits you should drop, and which habits you can adopt that will make a huge difference to your daily productivity.