Recently I’ve been writing what will more than likely be my final lecture for a continuing legal education platform. I’ve made the lecture power packed with huge insights, tips and tricks that I’ve gained from my extensive experience in this industry. Participants will receive everything I know about effortlessly increasing productivity. When productivity increases, so does one’s service to their industry. When service increases, so to does polished professionalism. At the peak of polished professionalism, you’re standing separate and apart from the crowd. You will have arrived at the “extra mile” and we all know that it isn’t crowed there. Once there, you’re worth more to your profession – plain and simple. What if there isn’t only a working system for your work life to help you shine, but the same system could be implemented at home to keep you on top there as well?
This will be my second lecture where I showcase a 4 day system that I developed out of sheer necessity several years ago, and today is your lucky day because I’m going show it to you.
As a high performance professional, as well as CFO of my own business, I am accountable to many people. I also have 4 solid projects going simultaneously and they are all important, and some overlap each other. In my world, details matter like they’ve never mattered before. There is no room for loss of focus, and dropping the ball not only makes me look unpolished and disorganized, it can cost me votes to complete my projects, and the hard work would be for naught. Yet, I don’t ever feel this pressure. I don’t feel overburdened, and even when I don’t accomplish all that I want in a day, I know that it will get done because I have so much built in buffer time. I have to say, this is such a pleasant feeling! I literally do not worry about anything anymore.
The first step to initially implementing this process is to gather a full accounting of your repeating duties. If you’re more advanced in organization, you may want to list all of your reoccurring tasks to include personal, professional, and hobby/home life. I do it this way and nothing gets missed.
The second step to implementing this process is to figure out what will work for you personally in terms of planning – good old fashion paper & pen with a planner? Or a techy spreadsheet?
Now you’re all set.
While we are at it, lets take a good look at those tasks. Are they really your responsibility? Is there something that can be outsourced? Delegated? Purging is necessary in all areas of life. You can’t organize chaos!
From here, let’s get those tasks listed in our “theme” days. Please note that though we have all of our tasks planned out for the week, things may pop up – such as life! Don’t feel that this system is ridged by any means. Tasks can be moved to other days, you can split days in half or break them into quarters…this is a system meant to be fully customized. As long as all tasks are listed, you won’t miss them!
This is a day for high intensity focus. This is one day set aside specifically for projects. Knowing that there is a plan for the rest of the week makes this day easy to stick with and lessens the chance for distractions.
For work, this may mean spending the time on the presentation that is due. For your personal life, this may mean finally de-cluttering the basement. Anything that needs your full attention goes here and you’re able to do it because you’ve got all of your other tasks delegated to other days.
Correspondence & Planning Day
This is a day for phone calls, emails, letters, and follow ups such as following up on last week’s conversations, touching base, and getting back in touch. Having this day set aside to start conversations actually makes it pleasurable and you will find that you look for even more and creative ways to get back in touch. Using this day to make contact allows the rest of the week to be less stressful.
Planning is part of this day because as you are making contact with people, you’re more than likely making some appointments or promises with regard to assignments and meet ups.
Obviously some of correspondence days will spill over into other days as people get back to you. I will show later where the spill over can be accounted for. In the meantime however, what a fun day! Whether you are writing a letter to a long lost college friend, making an appointment for a haircut or check-up, or answering correspondence for work, you can get your “people-ing” done at once! Now being a business owner in my outside of the office life, I include those voicemails/emails/letters into this day as well. ALL correspondence for my life gets done on this day.
This is the day where major projects are presented or handed in. Launch days are often the partner of a focus day and it is recommended that a day, but no more than two, be placed in between them to allow any additional information to come forth, edits with fresh eyes and giving it a final review.
This can be a day dedicated to launching blog posts, presentations, proposals or anything that had a deadline. Depending on how long these launches last, or how much energy has to be exerted, you may find that for the rest of the day you take it easy and tidy lose ends, or you may chose to use the energy go right into building your next project.
This is a day to catch up on loose ends. Building in an “in case things happen” day means that nothing has to be rushed because you have automatic built in time. These days are not hard and fast as in that’s the theme of the day and that’s it. Correspondence may only take a half of a day and the rest can be used to focus. This system simply helps to corral our tasks. If I get a communication that isn’t urgent and I have a correspondence day scheduled for later in the week, I will put that communication in my folder to be worked on then while I continue with my daily priorities. Having too much to do is not impossible; it simply grants the opportunity to get creative.
In addition to a buffer day, please notice that you have an extra day in the work week to do with what you will. Need 2 focus days? Done. Is a presentation going to take 3 (launch) days? That means you still have 2 more days to use as a buffer and prioritize what remains to be done.
Let me show you a pretty basic example taking for instance a week that I recently had. This week was very light for me as I’m wrapping up some projects before going into others, but it will give you a glimpse;
As you can see, there are plenty of spaces that are left open. During these times, I continued to work on projects and tasks related to what is listed. If I was tired and not well focused, I used that time to do menial work that needs to be done but isn’t worth dedicating an actual day to…cleaning out a desk drawer, refilling my stapler etc. Just keep it moving is my motto.
The preceding two weeks after this one looked nothing like this since I was out of the office covering an outside project. In that instance, when I would return late in the afternoon, I would dedicate the time to tidying, planning, and answering correspondence. I did not work on any additional large projects. I attribute my above system for being able to leave the office for nearly 10 whole days, with no notice, and not at all fall behind in my professional or home work.
Play with this system to make it your own. Add things or delete as you see fit. This system is based on the premise of “batching” your work into like categories and does away completely with the chasing of the tail. When there is a time and place for everything, everything gets done. Nothing will always go according to plan. I know that’s hard for us Type A’s to hear, but it’s true. This system allows you to remain in control of your tasks, and with all of the built in buffer time, there’s no way you won’t get it done no matter what life throws at you! In times of true emergency, suspend everything – give yourself some space – and then resume where you left off.
Here are some basics that we all have to get you started filling in your system:
- Budgeting & invoice paying (home & office)
- Household cleaning schedule
- Answering emails and voicemails (home & office)
- Making appointments & networking functions
- Monthly de-cluttering mission (broken down per week)
- Work projects & presentations
- Making contact with friends and family (outside of social media)
- Vacation planning
- Important school dates & correspondence
- Financial Planning for the next 6 months and 5 years (broken down per week)
- Tax Prep
- Meal planning & shopping
- Household inventory
- Client & work meetings
No matter how you chose to work this system, just building one for yourself is the ultimate in self-care. Not only are you committing to yourself to plan and complete the basic life-ly duties that we have to do, you are simultaneously showing the world that you care about how you are perceived.
Disorganized people cost not only themselves time and money, but they cost the rest of us that too. Everyone around them has to pick up the slack and this can make disorganized people be perceived as lazy, irresponsible, and that they don’t care about themselves very much. That’s no way to go through life. Breaking this system down into baby steps and then completing them builds confidence. Start out with just scheduling yourself a Correspondence day. Once you’ve successfully done that for a month or two, add a Focus Day, and then keep going! You can add on and get more detailed with it as you go on and the next thing you know…you’re a high performance individual!
Hi! I would love to show you some things that come pretty natural to me, and even some stuff that didn’t until I sought it out…like simplicity. Life is so much better with less stuff and more living.
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