1. Craft your “just say no” elevator speech. Entrepreneurs work hard on their elevator speech. They revise, they hone, and they rehearse because their elevator speech is important.
It’s also important to know, with grace and tact, how to say no. Most of us default to “yes” because we don’t want to seem rude or unfriendly or unhelpful. Unfortunately, that also means we default to taking on more than we want or can handle. Maybe your response will be as simple as what I plan to use, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t have time.”
Whatever yours is, rehearse so it comes naturally. That way you won’t say yes simply because you think you should; you’ll say yes because you think it’s right for you.
2. Set limits. Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. We instinctively adjust our effort so our activities take whatever time we let them take. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take–or as long as you decide they should take.
Pick a task, set a time limit, and stick to that time limit. Necessity, even artificial necessity, is the mother of creativity. I promise you’ll figure out how to make it work.
3. Rework your nighttime routine. Every day the first thing you do is the most important thing you will do: It sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Prepare for it the night before. Make a list. Make a few notes. Review information. Prime yourself to hit the ground at an all-out sprint the next day; a body in super-fast motion tends to stay in super-fast motion.
4. Rework your morning routine. Then make sure you can get to that task as smoothly as possible. Pretend you’re an Olympic sprinter and your morning routine is like the warm-up for a race. Don’t dawdle, don’t ease your way into your morning, and don’t make sure you get some “me” time (hey, sleep time is me time). Get up, get cleaned up, get fueled up–and start rolling.
5. Rework one repetitive task. Think of a task you do on a regular basis. Now deconstruct it. Make it faster. Or improve the quality. Pick something you do that has become automatic and actively work to make it better.
Even if you only save five minutes, that’s five minutes every time.
6. Outsource one task. I was raised to think that any job I could do myself was a job I should do myself. Starting next week the kid down the street will cut my grass. He can use the money. I can use the time.
7. Fix that one thing you often screw up. I’m terrible about putting meetings and phone calls on my calendar. I figure I’ll get to it later and then I never do. I spend way too much time, often in a panic, trying to figure out when and where and who…
You probably have at least one thing you tend to mess up. Maybe you don’t file stuff properly. Maybe you put off dealing with certain emails and then forget them. Maybe you regularly find you’re unprepared for a call or meeting. Whatever your “thing” is, fix it. You’ll save time and aggravation.
8. Pick one task during which you won’t multi-task. Plenty of research says multi-tasking doesn’t work. Some research says multi-tasking actually makes you stupid. Maybe you agree. Maybe you don’t. Either way, I feel sure there is at least one thing you do that is so important you should never allow a distraction or a loss of focus.
Choose an important task and when you perform it turn everything else off. Focus solely on that task.
I think there is good sound advice here for lawyers and if you would put each and everyone into practice imagine how productive you could be… it’s likely to be life changing. Why not give it a try? I know I will!