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How much is this shortcut worth to you?

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Imagine you had been driving to and from work the same way every day for the past 4 years. And let's say that the drive each way typically took 30 minutes. And then one day, a friend told you about a shortcut that would save you 10 minutes each way. So, that's 20 minutes a day in time savings.

At 250 work days each year, that's 83 hours per year. Or 332 hours over 4 years.

I bet you wouldn't be too happy about having wasted 332 hours...

Or would you?

Because you would subsequently save 83 hours this year, and 83 hours next year, and so on and so on. That's pretty cool. The point is this - accomplishing more in less time IS possible. That is, if you know the shortcuts. Importantly, shortcuts shouldn't be quick ways to do things that result in poor quality. Rather, shortcuts allow you to do things more efficiently.

Let me give you an example.

Each of us has peak performance times. That is, times of the day when we have more energy and thus perform better. For many people, that time is early in the morning. Maybe we perform 15% better at those times than average.  Likewise, each of us has poor performance times. Like the hour after coming back from lunch. And at these times, we may perform 15% worse than average.

Now, you may recall from my recent blog post how important it is to create a To Do list each day, and to detail the specific time intervals during which you'll accomplish each key task (if not, you can read that here).

So now, imagine you have a really important one-hour project that requires your complete concentration. Well, doing that project during a normal performance time might take you 60 minutes. During a peak performance time it may only take you 50 minutes (and the quality will probably be higher). But during a poor performance time, it may take you 70 minutes.

So, in this example, performing the important task at a peak performance time would save you 20 minutes.

But what about the work you need to do during your poor performance time? Won't that take you 20 minutes longer and even things out? Not if you complete less important and less intensive work during that period.

So the action item I want you to take each day starting today is this:

1. Write down your daily To Do list

2. Schedule your entire day with the time intervals in which you'll complete each To Do item.

3. Adjust the order of the items to ensure that you complete the highest priority and most important tasks during the time periods when you feel you work at your peak.

I trust that this "shortcut" will start boosting your productivity right away.


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Nick Chertock says

Great blog and a good post about time management. As a CPA everything revolves around time, how it is best used, and how it can be billed. This shortcut idea is the basis of a lot of teachings on time management from the likes of Brian Tracy and the Four Hour Work Week. My suggestion is to not only develop the To Do list as discussed, but to have rules of what to NOT DO, such as: 1. Don't browse through email first thing in the morning. Instead, map out your schedule and tackle the most important pressing need first. 2. Don't take phone calls while focused on an important task that was deemed a high priority for the day.
Posted at 1:42 pm
Probal DasGupta says

Good post. I try to schedule manpower intensive (but less cerebral) tasks for those periods when I am typically less productive. It works for me.
Posted at 6:16 am

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