Monday, July 21, 2008

Productivty - 15 Minute Rule

One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is, ‘there are never enough hours in the day’. I disagree. We are all given the same amount of time every day. The great thing about time is that regardless of who you are, how old, how rich, how glamorous, time doesn’t care. Time doesn’t decide who it will support more. I do agree that some days we wish we had more time. Every audience I speak for tells me their favorite advice is the ’15 Minute Rule’.

Recently one of my incredibly busy clients told me she wanted to write a book. I had heard her say this so many times before and I knew she was genuine so in a slightly exasperated tone I said ‘just write the book already! All you need to do is write for 15 minutes every day’. Of course she didn’t believe me but she agreed in the January 2007 that she would write for 15 minutes every day (at least) and she did. Regardless of what was occurring within her life she carved out 15 minutes to add something to her book. I am so proud to announce that she completed that book and on 18th December 2007 she held her very first book in her hands. Ah the power of the 15 minute rule!

Create time. While we often can not find an additional hour in our day we can definitely find 15 minutes. Choose to create time.

Make time in time. Understand what activities you are currently doing that can be combined with other related activities. Some may call this multi-tasking. I prefer to think of it of cleverly using all aspects of time. If you know you have to wait for an appointment, take information you can read or a letter you can write while you wait.

Decide now. Choose that you will work on a task or activity for 15 minutes only. You will be amazed how much you can achieve in 15 minutes of concentrated activity. Our lives are so full, our attention so scattered that we don’t often apply focus for a full 15 minutes on many tasks!

Eliminate time robbers. Identify those activities that do ‘fill up’ your day. Each time you waste your time on an activity, phone call or lack of system or process, it is another 15 minutes you could be investing somewhere else.

Arrive early. One technique I use daily is to arrive 15 minutes early for appointments. This early arrival helps me to catch up on reading journals and local papers, provides time to sit and write daily thank you notes, and allows me to make a business call. As I already need to be at the meeting, arriving 15 minutes earlier is a choice I make to allow activities that don’t require my office. In your personal activities, try arriving at the gym earlier to do your abs routine or arriving to collect the kids from school as a time to sort through your mail.

Wake up. Set your alarm to wake up 15 minutes earlier each day. This will allow you to ease into your day and avoid running late first thing in the morning.

Rest well. Stay up 15 minutes longer than you normally would at night to complete some tasks that you might usually put off until the next day.

Phone free. Switch your cell phone and/or desk phone to voicemail for 15 minutes and allow your callers to leave a message while you complete an important task. Not many of us work in roles where 15 minutes is a life or death situation.

Ignore email. If you have a habit of checking your email every few minutes for any incoming messages, stop for 15 minutes. Choose to not answer an email for 15 minutes. You will definitely achieve more.

Shut the door. If you are in an office situation, shut your door for 15 minutes every day. Use this uninterrupted time to consider your strategy for the day, for the week or for the month.

Designate same time. Book the same time in your calendar each week to complete a certain task i.e. filing, paying bills, unsubscribing from junk mail, checking your online accounts, creating a report for your boss or contacting a family member.

Here is a list of things you can achieve in 15 minutes, try these:
Clear emails
Make a business phone call
Write a hand written note
Exercise
Make a healthy meal
Talk to a friend
Update your blog
Thank a colleague
Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails
Shop online
Assess your goals
Speak to a child
Send a birthday wish
Tidy your desk
File
Catch up on reading
Scan newspapers and journals
Write an article

What can you do in 15 minutes?

Neen James, MBA, is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people to rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker, author and corporate trainer, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice, sense of fun and common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more at http://www.neenjames.com/

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