Being on the road for more than 150 days a year has made Joseph Grenny adept at being efficient on the fly. A popular speaker, author and corporate and leadership trainer, he has developed a number of ways to make himself more efficient whether he's in his Salt Lake City, Utah, office running VitalSmarts, the training company he co-founded, or on the road. Here, he shares six strategies that can make anyone hyper-efficient.
Look ahead for windows of open time. Take five minutes in the morning to look at your day. You may have pockets of time that you'll be spending waiting for an airplane or appointment, commuting, or in some other holding pattern. Whether you have five minutes or two hours, you can find something worthwhile to fill your time, Grenny says. By planning ahead to maximize that time, you can fit more into those "wasted" minutes and hours.
Prepare. Grenny says the key to being effective when you have pockets of time is to be well-prepared. Know what needs to be done and the task's priority, and be sure you have the resources at hand to complete the task. Using mobile devices and cloud-based apps allows you to access the data, applications and documents you need, wherever you are.
Consider the opportunity cost of saying "yes." Before he accepts any commitment, Grenny takes a moment to think about what he'll be giving up in doing so. If he accepts a speaking engagement, he may miss out on some important planning time for his business. Is it worth it?
"You must make sure that you're spending your time on the things that are truly most important and not get caught up in saying 'yes' every time you're asked to do something," he says.
Make lists. Grenny is a list-maker. He thinks of it as a form of goal-setting. Even when he has just an hour, he takes a moment to make a list of the things he wants to accomplish during that time. This helps him prioritize tasks and also adds a sense of urgency so he doesn't get bogged down in doing just one thing.
Reward yourself. One of the reasons people lose their enthusiasm for being efficient and productive is that it can feel like a relentless grind - there's always more to do, he says. So, it's important to reward yourself for sticking with it. On a recent trip, Grenny gave himself eight tasks to complete during two windows of time. Once he completed four, he rewarded himself with a trip across the street to find a gift for his wife and enjoy a walk. That kind of pick-me-up can keep you going, even when you don't feel like being efficient.
Delegate. It's tough to do and entrepreneurs often think it's easier to do everything themselves, but Grenny emphasizes the importance of training your employees to handle more and more responsibility. You simply can't do it all yourself, he says.
"If you're not delegating everything you can that is not the best and highest use of your time, you're actually costing your company money," he says. "That goes for you and for your employees."