If you can recapture a wasted hour here and there and redirect it to a more productive use, you can make great increases in your daily productivity.
Here are five of the techniques I share in our Time Management seminars, each one of which will help you to get at least one more hour out of your day of additional productive time.
Maintain Balance: Your life consists of Seven Vital Areas: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional, and Spiritual. You will not spend equal amounts of time in each area or time every day in each area. But, if in the long run, you are spending a sufficient quantity and quality of time in each area, then your life will be balanced. But ignore any one of your areas, (never mind two or three!) and you will get out of balance and potentially sabotage your success. Fail to take time now for your health and you will have to take time for illness later on. Ignore your family and they may leave you and cost you a lot of time to re-establish relationships.
Get the Power of the Pen: A faint pen has more power than the keenest mind. Get into the habit of writing things to do down using one tool (a Day-Timer, pad of paper, Palm Pilot, etc.) Your mind is best used for the big picture rather than all the details. The details are important, but manage them with the pen. If you want to manage it you have to measure it first. Writing things down helps you to more easily remember all that you need to accomplish.
Do Daily Planning: It is said that people do not plan to fail, but a lot of people fail to plan. Take the time each night to take control of the most precious resource at your command, the next twenty-four hours. Plan your work and then work your plan each day. Write up a To Do list with all you have to's and all of your want to's for your next day. Without a plan for the day, you can easily get distracted, spending your time serving the loudest voice rather than attending to the most important things for your day that will enhance your productivity.
Prioritize It: Your To Do list will have crucial and not crucial items on it. Despite the fact most people want to be productive, when given the choice between crucial and not crucial items, we will most often end up doing the not crucial items. They are generally easier and quicker than crucial items. Prioritize your To Do list each night. Put the #1 next to the most important item on your list. Place the #2 next to the second most important item on your list, etc. Then tackle the items on your list in order of their importance. You may not get everything done on your list, but you will get the most important things done. This is working smarter, not harder, and getting more done in less time.
Control Procrastination: The most effective planning in the world does not substitute for doing what needs to be done. We procrastinate and put off important things because we don't sense enough pain for not doing it or enough pleasure to do it. To get going on something you have been putting off, create in your mind enough pain for not doing it or enough pleasure to do it. I prefer the pleasure approach. Take a procrastinated project and turn it into to a game. Work with one thing in front of you at a time so other things won't distract you. ("Out of sight, out of mind.") Break it down to little bite-sized, manageable pieces. Get it started, take the first step and you will likely continue it to completion.