Your to do list is comprised of most of the things that you do daily. Tasks like answering the phone, responding to emails, voicemails, texts and going on appointments and errands . Most people find that after working a busy day completing the tasks on their to do list, that they have no time left over to work on projects. Some people are experts at creating “to do lists”. If you are one of these people, you will notice that as you add more items to your “to do list” you will begin to feel more and more overwhelmed. If you continue to do this you will begin to feel stressed out because you can’t complete everything on your to do list. There are some excellent technology tools and apps that you can use on your smartphone (I like www.todoist.com and www.evernote.com) which can really help you to keep track of your to do list and your projects. The key is to separate the “to do list” from your projects and make sure that you leave yourself time allocated for projects.
The first step is to recognize that you are probably spending 80% of your time on non-essential items that do not generate any revenue. You may feel so busy that you feel like you don’t have time to complete the items on your to do list. If this is the case (like it is for most people) then you are not able to free up time to work on bigger projects. Understand that this is normal and very common for most people. If you want to solve this issue and become more productive, then you will need to learn how to separate projects from tasks on your to do lists. Make a list of projects (not tasks) and call your list “Projects”. These are major items that you need to do that are drivers for growing yourself and growing your business. Make sure you do not confuse projects with your to do list because these are not the same.
To Do List
Make a list of things that you must do and put them on your “To Do” list. This is a list of the most essential items that you must complete daily. For example, signing closing documents, sending wires, going on appointments etc. Unfortunately, it could also have many unessential items such as going to the grocery store, post office, dry cleaner, running errands etc. The key to organizing your to do list is separating the essential revenue generating items from the non-essential mundane and routine tasks that do not generate any revenue. If you are not certain if a specific task is revenue generating, then ask yourself if you never completed that task, would you make less money? If the answer is yes, then that task is revenue generating. For example, a routine task like sending in a deposit is essential for you to buy a property. Sending in the deposit is revenue generating in the sense that if you didn’t do it, you would not buy the property and you would make less money. Make sure you are dividing your revenue generating activities (we call them RGA’s in our office) from the non-revenue generating activities.
Projects are not tasks or a to do list. Projects are things that you know you should do, need to do, or have wanted to do but have not managed to get to. The main reason you don’t get to them is because you are too busy doing tasks on your to do list. What defines a project? An idea, an outline, a goal, an action step that needs to be completed by you for your business.
It needs to be business related, and it needs to be a project that could generate future revenue. A project could be spending 90 minutes a day reading real estate, motivational or self-help books. A project could be spending 90 minutes a day studying for your real estate exam. A project could be spending 90 minutes per day bidding on properties. A project could be spending 90 minutes per day focusing on your vision and your goals. The project should be the FIRST thing that you tackle in your day. You may need to wake up a little earlier to complete projects. Studies have shown that our brains are most productive early in the morning. Tackle your projects before you tackle your to do list. Do not open your email, check your voicemails, social media, news and texts when you get up in the morning. Instead focus on turning off your phone and completing one 90-minute project before you start your day. Make sure you complete at least one project every day, and make sure you start working on the most important project first.
Complete your projects in order of priority meaning rank your projects by number from most important to least important. Always work first on the most important projects. And never start your daily routine until you have completed your 90-minute project. Prioritize your projects so that they make sense. If you need to get your real estate license to bid on properties, then your most important project is to get your real estate license. If your real estate license requires 63 hours of study, then this will be a recurring project for you to do every day until the project is completed. Only when that project is completed, can you move on to the next project. Do not start a new project until you have completed the previous project. Most people do not get to projects because they are too busy working on items on their to do list. And as mentioned above, the key to change this is “time blocking”.
The Secret of Time Blocking
Set aside a 90-minute focus period to block your time. The easiest time to incorporate this into your routine is early morning before everyone in your household wakes up. It will be difficult at first, but after a few days you will notice that you will go to bed earlier and you will wake up earlier. After a few days of doing this, you may begin to really like waking up earlier. During your 90-minute focus period you must work on your most important project on your project list. Tomorrow you can work on the next most important project. If you have a project that requires multiple hours of work (like studying for your real estate license) then set aside 90-minute focus sessions for as many days that you need in order to complete that project.
The important thing to remember, is that if you want to be more productive you must complete one 90-minute focus session every single day. For your focus session to be focused your time must be completely blocked. That means no phone calls, no texts, no social media, no web surfing, and no emails. It also means no distractions. Make sure you turn your phone off for 90 minutes.
This secret of time blocking will enhance your productivity in ways you can never imagine. You will be trading 90 minutes of TV at night for 90 minutes of productivity in the morning. If you incorporate this as a daily habit you will see amazing benefits in just a few days. And the key to change is to incorporate new daily habits. You will notice that projects are getting completed and you will realize that you are becoming much more efficient with your time. You will learn how to prioritize your time based on important tasks that are revenue generating versus things that can be ignored or delegated to someone else.
Hiring an assistant
The best way to immediately boost your productivity is to hire an assistant. Take the tasks that you do daily and make a list of all of them. Then divide that list into the revenue generating tasks that make you money and the non-revenue generating tasks that do not make any money.
Take all the non-revenue generating tasks on your list and have your assistant do those. If you are constrained by your budget, then hire a part time assistant or a college student to complete tasks for you. Consider leveraging technology by using apps to get your groceries delivered instead of going to the grocery store yourself. Have your assistant fetch your dry cleaning, pick up the kids, etc. Learn and understand that your time is valuable. Do not waste your time on activities that you could be paying someone else $10 an hour to do for you.
Being productive is not difficult. But it does require you to be organized and focused. You do need to create a list of “tasks” and “projects”. You need to prioritize both of those lists into revenue generating and non-revenue generating activities. And then you need to complete your highest priority projects and delegate your lowest priority tasks to your assistant. Being productive requires you to be disciplined. Self-discipline is important. If you want to be more productive then start reading books on productivity. The key to productivity is time blocking your most important projects and outsourcing non-revenue generating tasks. If you shut off your phone and time block just 90 minutes a day, you will be amazed at how productive you can become.