Make Your Task List Disappear
You've got a million things to do, and you feel like you don't ever have enough time. But according to the productivity experts we talked to, you can complete your to-do list with time to spare.
To help keep you optimally productive, it's important to set both long- and short-term goals with small action steps, says Laura Stack, author of Leave the Office Earlier. "[You shouldn't] have these huge, lofty goals that you don't have any way of translating into daily activity," she says. Stack also suggests maximizing your efficiency when it comes to administrative tasks by planning blocks of time in which to accomplish payroll, accounting or phone calls.
Don't let procrastination or perfectionism derail your schedule, says Dorothy K. Breininger, co-author with Debby S. Bitticks of Time Efficiency Makeover: Own Your Time and Your Life by Conquering Procrastination. "Avoid perfection," she says. Sure, your presentation to investors must be top-notch with no mistakes, but your personal notes don't need to be--so save your perfectionism only for items that will be seen by others. And don't let two e-mail accounts and three phone lines overtake you--streamline so you're not checking and responding to 1,200 messages from 10 different places all at once.
And don't discount help--experts suggest outsourcing tasks you feel you don't have time for. You can pay a local high-school student to stuff mailers for you while you work on a marketing plan, for instance. Finally, adds Breininger, in your daily plan, ask yourself what two or three things you can get done that day and what is most important. Everything you do needs to support those tasks. Says Breininger, "That drives in the focus."