- Set goals every week, every day. This may sound daunting, but it really works. At the beginning of each week, identify the three things you absolutely need to get done. Jot down your goals and post them by your computer or on your wall to serve as a reminder. Then each morning before you open and respond to emails, set your goals for the day. Finally at the end of the week take time to double check that you have achieved the goals you established on Monday. Consider keeping an ongoing list of your goals. After just a few weeks, it’s likely you’ll have an impressive list of accomplishments.
- Schedule for your priorities. Once you’ve set your weekly goals, use those priorities as a starting point for your schedule. I recommend dedicating at least a third of your time against your priorities. If your schedule fails the one-third test, look for meetings you can reschedule so you can stay focused on your priorities. As new issues emerge during the week, use your goals as a sorting tool to determine whether you need to accept every invitation you receive. Just because you’re invited doesn’t mean you have to attend every meeting. Just be certain to give those inviting you a reason you will not be able to participate.
- Keep your inbox clear. Try to build in a few short windows of time each day to clear your inbox — 5, 10 or 15 minutes first thing in the morning and again at the end of the day. There are two additional techniques I find especially useful. The first, David Allen’s two-minute rule that says if an inbox item will take you two minutes or less, just deal with it right now — respond to the message, file it into a folder or share it with another colleague. The second, Robert Pozen’s OHIO rule, only handle it once. Whether it’s a letter, a voicemail or an email, returning to it over and over again is wasting time.
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