For the past 6 years I’ve religiously followed a to-do list. As I completed each task, I would mark it off and move on to the next task.
This year my New Year’s resolution was to create a not-to-do list. By cutting back on things that are wasting time, adding extra work, and are overall unproductive, my productivity has gone up exponentially. The not-to-do list is just as important if not more important than the to-do list.
Here’s what I’ve put together:
1. Do not spend too much time with low-profit, high demanding clients.
Last year I took on a capital intensive doctor as a client. The ole doctor owned medical facilities, gyms, and other businesses. From the beginning I should have known better to work with him, since he had no clue about direct response marketing and had unrealistic expectations.
Over the course of his campaign, I must have answered thousands of questions – going above/beyond to promote his campaign. At the end of the day this idiot spent thousands of dollars on luxury meals, shows, and parties, yet complained when he lost money at the beginning of a media buy. No matter how hard I tried to explain the business to him, he just didn’t get it. Which would have worked however he insisted on micromanaging every aspect of the process and asking questions. Whew – what a waste!
Because of this experience, I started charging for every hour I work on campaigns. You should do the same. I got this idea from my lawyers – who enjoy calling me up at random to chat for 15 minutes and then turn around and bill me $700 – lol!
2. Have concise conversations – get down to brass tacts.
Skip niceties and get down to business. Time is very limited. If you’re working with someone that likes to engage in small talk, pull them aside and politely explain that you would prefer to avoid small talk due to its wastefulness.
I like to get to my office, work hard, then go home and enjoy the family. Small talk in the work environment is wasteful.
3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time
Schedule your day. Unless it’s your business partners calling in, set times for calls and stick to them. If your business partners start interrupting you with wastefulness, start scheduling them in too.
4. Do not check email constantly.
This is a big one. Emailing is a non-productive exercise. Sure, it’s important to handle your emails, but doing it all day is a major distraction from getting your core work completed.
I’ve started answering my emails 2x a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Other than that, I stay focused on getting work done.
5. Do not answer phone calls all day.
Another big one. Same thing as above. I’ve actually started using a call service to screen ALL OF MY CALLS. There are only 3 calls that can get through to me during the day – business partners, daughter, and girlfriend.
6. Do not allow work to interfere with family time.
When you’re finished working, turn the switch off. DO NOT bring it home with you. Remove your home computer if you have to.
When I walk out of the office, the work stays there. Forward your mobile-work phone to a call center or just simply turn your phone off.
For those of you working at home, try to move your office space to a section of your house that’s off the beaten path. When you finish work, unplug your computer and shut it down. In the morning you can boot it back up.
Create a not-to-do list and place it next to your to-do list. Your productivity will skyrocket!