Most of us get through our day without a clue as to how it flew by so quickly. We usually take it as a sign of how busy we have been. However, if you really pay attention, are you using the hours of your day to the best of your ability? There’s a guarantee that you are probably not.
As much as procrastination is a big problem when it comes to wasted time, there are also other distractions that prevent us from working efficiently. Grabbing a cup of coffee from the coffee machine may turn into an hour-long chat about the game last night or asking a colleague for some data may turn into a thirty-minute perusal of a lunch menu. So, how do you get back this time? Do you avoid these distractions altogether? This book has a little bit of everything to guide you to working efficiently.
In this book summary readers will discover:
- Why defining your goals is important
- A good pace is just as important as time available
- Eliminating distractions
- Tracking your productivity
- Why feedback is important
Key lesson one: Why defining your goals is important
An important start in achieving your goals is to first define them. As obvious as it may sound, most of us just say we want to work more efficiently without actually putting any thought as to what that actually means. There has to be a clear goal set that has steps that you can take to achieve it. In this way, you can question yourself at the end of every day to check that you have taken the steps needed to achieve your goals.
It must be remembered that breaking down goals into smaller parts makes them more achievable. Depending on what goals you set, they can sometimes be intimidating. By breaking them down into smaller tasks, you can work your way through them thus making your larger goal more achievable. Acting on smaller components is also much easier to accomplish instead of diving into the deep end.
The way in which you approach your goals, as well, is important. As much as achieving your goals provides an immense sense of accomplishment and pride, you should not be in a rush to complete them. If you rush through them, often you will be left feeling burnt out and with much less motivation to move forward.
Key lesson two: A good pace is just as important as time available
Keeping a good pace is all about finding your ideal balance. Move too fast and you risk burning out. Move too slow and then you will get too little done. There’s nothing worse than missing deadlines and having an ever-growing to-do list. So, you have to find a good pace that keeps your workload balanced and you motivated. Just think of yourself as a runner participating in a marathon, if you push yourself too hard at the start of the race, you will reach a point where your energy will be unable to sustain you for the rest of the race. You have to keep a pace that will get you to the finish line.
In addition to keeping a good pace to make your day productive, you have to also understand that your time is in fact valuable. How much can you get done in 15 minutes? There’s actually quite a bit that you can achieve in that time. Consider phone calls, email replies and calendar checks – they could all be accomplished in 15 minutes. 15 minutes represents one per cent of your day. So, the next time you have 15 minutes to spare, use that time to complete the small items on your to-do lists. It could be whilst you are waiting for your next meeting or on the train to work. When you start valuing every minute of your time, you can start to use it much more efficiently.
Key lesson three: Eliminating distractions
Distractions come in many shapes and forms. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware that something or someone is actually a distraction. This takes our time and energy away from our work and important tasks. A simple experiment is to write down what you are thinking about right now, putting each thought on a new page. How many pages do you have? Most people are surprised by how many thoughts are weighing them down.
All these thoughts that are in your mind are actually distractions because they usually have nothing to do on what you are working on right now. They take your attention away from the work that you have at present and your ultimate goals. Getting rid of these distractions is a big step to take if you want to free up your time. But the thoughts of all the things that you need to do are not your only distractions, sometimes people take up way too much of our time.
The most important thing for you to do when it comes to people is to pay attention to how you feel when in their presence. We interact with many people at the office and we need to be more mindful of this. The people who take up our time and leave us feeling tired are distractions and need to be avoided. Those that inspire and motivate you to work better are those that you should actually schedule time for.
Key lesson four: Tracking your productivity
When you start working towards your goals and being more mindful of your time, a great way to check if you are achieving what you set out to do is to track your productivity. This will allow you to see what is working and what is not.
For example, a client of the author tracked how many times he was interrupted from his work by a colleague. This simple task showed him that he got interrupted 27 times over two days. These interruptions greatly affected his productivity and he knew that he had to make changes to account for this distraction. If you had to complete this measure of lost time for yourself, you might be surprised just how many times you get interrupted per day.
Once you make changes to account for these interruptions, it is useful to continue this practice periodically to ensure that there are not any new distractions that creep up. This allows you to keep track of your productivity, help you maintain your good pace and ensure that you achieve your goals.
Key lesson five: Why feedback is important
As much as you can implement all these methods to help you maximize your time and achieve your goals, it also helps to receive feedback from outside sources. This feedback together with your productivity tracking will give you a holistic view of your new approaches to working. Keeping this in mind, you have to be open to receiving constructive criticism.
In order to receive feedback, you can also ask someone to partner with you for a mentor programme. This can also work for both people involved as you can both meet up to discuss the projects you are working on and get valuable feedback from each other. This allows you to stay motivated and help you work more efficiently. In this way, you ensure that you are constantly improving.
And remember, it is okay to actively seek out feedback. You don’t have to wait to receive it. This is a great way to ensure that you always remain on the right track. There is no end to trying to improve, it has to be done continuously to ensure continuous growth. You cannot afford to fall into a routine and just assume that you are now working optimally because you have worked through any issues identified. The practices that you have implemented has to continue and be adapted to each new task.
The key takeaway from Your Best Just Got Better is:
Procrastination is not the only thing that prevents you from working efficiently. Each day we are interrupted by a range of distraction, both internal and external that take away from our time. Once we become mindful of these distractions, we can set out to achieve our professional goals. Defining these goals, and breaking them down into smaller tasks is the first step we can take to achieving them. Once this is done, it’s only a matter of eliminating distractions and realizing the true value of your time. Put your focus in the right place and the right people if you want to stay on track to achieving your goals.
How can I Implement the lessons learned in Your Best Just Got Better:
Track your productivity by seeing how you use your time. In this way, you can see where your biggest distractions lie and also how much time it actually takes you to complete your tasks. With this knowledge, you can not only eliminate all the distractions but can maximize your time. Got 15 minutes before your next meeting? If you know exactly how much you can complete in that time, you can knock off items from your to-do list.