Most of us probably struggle with finding time to work on the things that are the most important because they never seem to be urgent. But these projects, tasks, and ideas are the most essential to seeing the progress that we really want.
It’s not that we don’t have a desire to, but in the flood of incoming information (email, social media, someone else’s urgent tasks) we never seem to find the time to get these important things done.
The key in getting these projects done is making time to work on them. But doing that in our digital age is tough to do. Especially in a society that uses email like text messaging, expecting instant feedback. But here are 3 ways that you can begin to create the space to get your most important work done.
1. Turn off your email/internet
I know you probably just smirked at your screen with a quick irreverence for this suggestion. Here are the things I hear from people over this suggestion:
- That’s not how my office does it
- People won’t be able to get in touch with me if I do that
- Is there another way without shutting off my email?
Ultimately you have to ask the question, “Is email the most important part of my job?” Is there something more that you can be working on that is much more important to the success of your organization?
Let’s say that you spend 5 minutes on every email that you receive and reply to… Let’s pretend that you get 20 of those emails a day. You’ve spent 1hr and 40 minutes on email of your workday. That’s a little over 20% of an 8 hour workday spent on email!
Not to mention the distraction of being alerted to a new email when you are in the middle of a project.
So turn it off. I check my email twice a day. Usually when I am l least productive right before lunch and right before I go home during the day.
2. Work on your most important tasks when you are most creatively productive
This is usually in the morning according to most researchers. We waste our most productive hours on some of the most mundane tasks sometimes. I recently was reviewing my schedule and the things that were most likely on my schedule between the hours of 9-12 were meetings, email, and weekly communications (social media, website, etc.)
I had been wasting one of my most precious resources, energy, on not so important tasks.
“Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are the most active.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Take a look at your schedule and find ways to put your most important work during the time that you are most ready to accomplish great things.
3. Plan and know what your most important work actually is
Planning is one of the most overlooked pieces in productivity. It gets a bad wrap. It takes time to plan but it gives you a blueprint for your own individual work success.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Often we hurt ourselves when it comes to our time by not thinking through what is most important for us to accomplish and because of this we spend time on tasks that are urgent but not necessarily important. Have a plan to accomplish what is most important.
“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” – Aristotle
What are some of the ways that you stay productive? How do you protect your most creative time?