A quick google of ‘Productivity’ will lead you to an overwhelming avalanche of tips, tricks, hacks, and methods.
But what really works? What methods are tried and tested? What small details, the 1 percenters that you could implement to improve your day to save out some extra time?
To answer this I have looked to the leaders of Walsh Accountants. Given Walsh is a AFR Top 100 accounting firm – they must be doing something right!
Walsh’s Top 3 Productivity Tips
Tip #1 – The To Do List
There is considerable research behind this practice with the most well-known being the Ivy Lee Method.
Ivy Lee, a productivity consultant, most famous offering Charles Schwab; one of the richest men in the world at the time, and his executives his services for free, unless it added value then he requested that he could be paid whatever Mr Schwab felt it was worth.
The story goes that Ivy Lee only spent 15mins with the executives and explained a simple yet powerful method for achieving peak productivity.
- The end of each day, write down the 6 most important tasks that you need to accomplish the following day.
- Order these tasks in importance.
- The following day – immediately focus on your first task and work until it is complete. Once the first task is completely finished, then and only then, move onto the second task and so on.
- At the end of the day, any unfinished tasks can be moved to a new list for the following day and re-prioritised.
- Repeat every day.
Charles Schwab was so impressed with the results that after 3 months that he wrote Ivy Lee a cheque for $25,000. Given that $25,000 in 1918 is worth over $400,000 today – it’s not bad for a 15 minute presentation.
Tip #2 – Block time for the most important tasks
Donna Bruce, Director of Walsh Accountant and Winner of New Partner of Year – Australian Accounting Awards 2018, advocates ‘shutting the door.’ In that, if you are too busy with the distractions of life and running a business to focus on your important tasks, then you are spending too much time on the unimportant tasks, simply because they interrupted you.
Even if you have set your ‘Ivy Lee To Do List’, if you let the calls, emails and interruptions drain you of your time and energy, you will not achieve what you have decided is important.
By ‘shutting the door,’ putting the phone on silent and closing your emails, you prevent interruptions & potential multi-tasking from controlling your time and you can focus on your most important tasks – which is getting items off you to-do list.
Does this mean that you should work in an opaque sound-proof bubble? Absolutely not – but when a critical priority 10 task needs completing – Jan from accounts can wait wanting to know about the office Christmas party.
Tip #3 “READ” – Review, Eliminate, Automate, Delegate
Scott Coghlan, Walsh SMSF Manager, use a productivity technique known as READ for ensuring not only efficiency, doing things right, but also effectiveness, doing the right things.
READ is a methodology adapted from Tim Ferris’s book The 4 hour Work Week.
- Review – Review all the tasks that you have scheduled and assess each task if it gets you closer to you end goal?
- Eliminate – If a task doesn’t get you closer to your goal? Does the task need to be completed or are you just doing it too appear busy? If the task doesn’t need to be done, eliminate it.
- Automate – If a task gets you closer to your goal and or it does need to be completed, can you use technology to automate, all or part, reducing the time and energy required? They have an app for everything these days.
- Delegate – If the task is important and technology can’t help can another person do the heavy lifting? Jack Daly, former accountant and sale expert, claims if you don’t have an assistant – you’re the assistant. A really effective way of clearing your to do list is by putting the lower importance tasks onto someone else’s and letting you do what you do best – the high value important tasks.
Which method is the best amongst the thousands could help your productivity is still up for debate. However the best method is the one that you will consistently apply – they only work if you work them.
If this has helped or if you liked the content please consider sharing with your friends and colleagues. Your sharing really does help us with Googles analytics helping other to find us. Or alternatively I am happy to accept any and all cheques from $25,000 – $400,000 Charles Schwab style.