That New Year’s resolution to increase your productivity might seem impossible, given never-ending emails to answer and phone calls to make. In his new book The Compass Solution: A Guide to Winning Your Career, pharmaceutical industry veteran, motivational speaker, and The Compass Alliance founder Tim Cole describes these distracting and often mindless tasks as “the storm,” capable of keeping us from true effectiveness at work. Here are three tips from Cole on how to lower your daily anxiety and focus on the tasks that matter most in 2018:
Get organized “Purchase a planner and take the steps to learn how to use it,” Cole writes. Whether the planner is electronic or manual does not matter, but how you use the planner matters quite a bit. “Find a way to combine your meeting notes with your planner and your calendar. Ideally, one vehicle becomes your go-to source,” Cole says. “You should have a defined method to capture key notes and, perhaps most important, to time-activate these points that require action for every meeting you ever attend. I’m always amazed at how often people discuss actionable items or follow up, and then nothing takes place after. A well-constructed planner can help make sure you hold up your end of the bargain.”
Learn how to prioritize It is crucial for efficient workers to understand the difference between “urgent” and “important,” Cole writes. A new email might seem as though it requires an urgent reply, but is it important that you reply in order to accomplish your most important tasks? Importance, Cole writes, “ties to your primary goals and whether that’s business or personal, if you invest time there you optimize your effectiveness.” Cole suggests dedicating 15 minutes every morning to reviewing your key activities for the day. Urgent and important items are must-dos. Not urgent and important items should be completed soon. If it is not urgent or important, address it only if you have time to spare.
Calendarize “If you have prioritized what’s most important, it is essential for you to then schedule the time to commit to that priority,” Cole writes. “Literally go into your calendar and block that time.” Top priorities should always be calendarized. “Effectively budget your day, your week, and your month according to how you have prioritized your life. And make that commitment one you live by.”