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This Productivity Hack Completely Changed My Life, and It Can Improve Yours

How do you accomplish that one task that unquestionably needs to get done but still have time for everything else?

Brandon Turner

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During your day, you have a lot going on. Email, phone calls, meetings, interviews, driving, answering questions, tech support, coding, hosting webinars and whatever else you have to accomplish during those hours that you’ve defined as “work.”

Interruptions abound and productivity drops. Your day is spent playing catch-up on a million other tasks, trying to get your to-do list down to nothing, which rarely, if ever, happens.

Related: The 5 Best Productivity Apps for Entrepreneurs

The funny thing is so often, the thing(s) that truly need to get done to move your business forward never get accomplished. It’s unlikely you are suddenly going to find 30 hours in a day and even more unlikely that people will suddenly stop making demands on your time. So how do you accomplish that one task that unquestionably needs to get done but still have time for everything else?

Time blocking.

Time blocking is the concept of sitting down once a week for just five minutes and scheduling time for yourself.

First introduced to me in my current favourite business book, The One Thing, time blocking is the practice of using your calendar to schedule “me time.” Or, as graphic designer Shawn Hooghkirk refers to it, “scheduling time for your most important client: yourself.”

No doubt you’ve heard this concept before, yet so few people actually take the time to do it. They think, “I’m going to work for two hours a day on X,” but then things come up. The phone rings. The baby cries. The boss walks in. Soon, that “me time” turns into “we time” and the can is kicked down the road for another day.

That project that’s going to revolutionise your life is, once again, put on the back burner, replaced by tasks that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t truly matter.

Time blocking is more than simply hoping and wishing for the availability to work on a project. Hoping and wishing are not going to cut it in a busy world – you must schedule it!

Some people want it to happen. Some people wish it would happen. Others make it happen. – Michael Jordan

If you want it to really happen, you need to schedule it and treat it like your most important meeting of the year.

Time blocking is a mindset that says “no” to interruptions and forces you to specifically take time in your day to work on your most important tasks.

It’s a mentality that says “Nothing but life-or-death emergencies can interrupt me from my time.” It’s telling other people that this time is “off limits” for interruptions. It’s a conscious choice that you make long before you arrive at the moment.

When you schedule that time for yourself and hold to it fiercely, two amazing things happen:

  1. You get your most important task accomplished quicker, more thoroughly, and with more enjoyment.
  2. You are still able to handle all those other tasks in your life.

People will adjust to your time blocking. You’ll still get to your busy work. Emails won’t get missed, phone calls will get returned, but you’ll be immensely more successful because of your “me time.”

Understand that time blocking is not just for business. Anything in your life that you want to focus on improving should be time blocked.

After all, what’s more important? A meeting with a client or ongoing dates with your spouse? Hopefully, you said “ongoing dates with your spouse,” but why do your client meetings get preferential treatment and dates relinquished to “when we have time”?

My first venture into time blocking was while writing my recent real estate investing book. Later, I used it to time block several hours a day to improving my book sales.

Then, I scheduled more time to sit down and work on nothing but improving the weekly real estate investing webinars I host on BiggerPockets, the website I work for.

Related: Can Creative Breaks Boost Your Employees’ Productivity?

Today, I even time block my P90X workouts, to write articles for BiggerPockets and Entrepreneur, dates with my wife, YouTube videos, church activities and other things that I deem as “most important” in my life.

Time blocking is not difficult to plan for, but can be incredibly difficult to do. You’ll be tempted to break from your time block to work on other things. However, the following six-step process has helped me time block my most important activities to get the most out of my day.

1. Schedule your time blocks

At the beginning of the week (I like Sunday evenings), sit down and deliberately and specifically define your week. Physically write it on your desk calendar or make the dates in your computer’s calendar.

2. Find a quiet place to work with no interruptions

You may need to leave the office or youman-working-on-computerr home to accomplish your task. Coffee shops, rented office space, the local park – you get the idea. Pick a spot that will help you focus with minimal distractions.

3. Let others know

If you work closely with other people, let them know (politely) that you’ll be head down in some significant work for your time block, and you’ll be checking your email when you return.

Be sure to let someone know where you are, though, in case there truly is a life-or-death emergency.

4. Turn off your phone and other tech traps

I know, blasphemy! But your cell phone will rob you of your productivity. Turn it off, along with anything else that will rob you of your time.

5. Be held accountable

As with any new habit, it’s a good idea to allow someone else to hold you accountable. Whether that’s an individual, a mastermind group or some other structure, you are more likely to hold to your goals when other people are helping you keep your promises to yourself.

Related: Can productivity tools help me?

6. Keep your promise to yourself

Finally, in the words of Nike, “just do it!” Actually sit down and work on your most important projects for your time block. Don’t let anything stop you!

Time blocking has completely changed my life, and I believe it can change yours. People will begin to ask you, as they often inquire of me, “How do you get so much done?”

You’ll be able to look at them, smile, and reply: “Time blocking!”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Brandon Turner is a real estate entrepreneur and the VP of Growth at BiggerPockets.com, one of the web’s largest real estate investing community. He is also the author of The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down and several other books. Buying his first home at the age of 21, Turner quickly grew his real estate portfolio to over 40 units using a variety of creative finance methods. He and his wife Heather live in Grays Harbor, Wash.

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(Infographic) 9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making In The First 10 Minutes Of Your Day

From setting goals to drinking coffee, these bad morning habits might surprise you.

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There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

When you get into the office and try to jump right into the top of your to-do list, you might find yourself confused and not very productive. When you don’t let your brain empty and refresh before starting a project or task, it loses a sense of control, becomes overwhelmed and ultimately, makes you less productive. Something else to avoid is checking email or social media right when you wake up. Typically, after checking your inbox, it takes a person at least 25 minutes to get back into a productive state. If you start your day off reading and responding to email after email, it will take you a long time to get back on track.

Another surprising mistake is setting self-imposed goals. Setting goals and deadlines for yourself might seem like an obvious productivity hack, but it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, share your deadlines with others and you’ll feel more pressure and responsibility to get things done.

Related: 5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

Check out resume.io’s infographic below for more productivity mistakes you’re likely making in the first 10 minutes of your day.

1538429589_9-productivity-mistakes-infographics-7934969f76af5ebe1b5b0b84ce9053ec43752717512fb7d9339e84f86afe91d1

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Workflow And Business Efficiency – 5 Strategies You Ignore At Your Peril

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. You’re not still depending on email, are you?

Toby Nwazor

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An inefficient business can cost you a lot more than just growth – it can affect your revenue, too. According to a report by IDC, your business runs the risk of losing 20 to 30 percent of your revenue due to inefficient systems.

Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to implement the right systems to improve their workflow. Others have it worse, because they have no systems. In those situations, projects take ages to be completed, more time is spent on menial tasks and teams never seem to get enough done during work hours.

If that describes your company, your company’s profits may start to plummet, too.

Every successful business, then, has clearly defined systems to help the business run like clockwork. Improved workflow, better management and business efficiency save time, increase the bottom line and ensure a higher profit margin.

In fact, in an article on ContractZen, Tim Cummins, president of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management, wrote that, “The average corporation could boost its bottom line by almost 10 percent if it invested in improving the quality of contracting.

For many companies – especially those in more complex, project-based industries – the prize could be much higher – perhaps as much as 15 percent.”

Related: Become A Life-Hacker

Unfortunately, some companies fail to provide systems that put users first, taking a negative toll on those companies’ workflow and efficiency. The good news is that they’re only five strategies away from turning this around:

1. Automate all you can

automated-emails

From email lists, bookkeeping, invoicing and contract management, to social media posts and payrolls, almost everything can be automated. For a business that aims to be more efficient, automation is a must.

Automation doesn’t just save you time, it can be the one strategy that can guarantee explosive growth and higher conversion rates. According to this Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness study, 63 percent of companies polled that were outgrowing their competitors said they had automated their marketing.

Automating monotonous tasks that have to be repeated several times during the day helps you be more productive in tasks that require your personal attention.

2. Invest in customer-relationship management software

It’s not uncommon to find businesses that are barely able to keep up with their leads. Some waste hours hunting the low-quality leads instead of focusing their energy on those ready to buy. Here, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution linked to these businesspeople’s network phone system is a great way to enhance customer communications.

Customers value businesses that provide excellent customer service. A CRM solution increases the ability to keep track of customer information, monitor leads and provide efficient delivery. Businesses can provide for their customers’ needs faster and make effective business decisions. With CRM, businesses can also keep their focus on quality leads that will drastically improve conversion rates.

Related: 11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day

3. Set up a task-management system

slack-logo

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. Email makes it difficult to carry everyone along. However, setting up task-management software like Slack, Trello or Asana makes it much easier to have everyone’s tasks in one place and ensure that everyone is carried along in the project.

Task-management software helps members of a team track their progress and ensure that everyone is working on their tasks.

4. Sync your calendar with that of everyone else on your team

How many times have you had to reschedule appointments because you didn’t know you had other meetings lined up for the day?

Aside from leaving negative impression in clients’ mind, this error makes you less productive. Having to go back and forth until you have settled on an appropriate date can be cumbersome especially when different time zones are involved. So, do this instead: Sync your personal calendar with your work calendar, and make sure that everyone in your team is synced to the latter, too.

This will ensure sure that everybody is “on the same page” in terms of appointments and deadlines. Google Calendar can help you do just that. Once everyone is synced up, any change in the calendar will be seen by everyone so they can manage their own appointments.

5. Block out chunks of time

time-management

Constant interruptions hamper your workflow. Imagine having to deal with turning over a project on a deadline while you’re stuck in a series of meetings throughout the day. It can get very difficult to focus on completing your most urgent tasks.

Block out chunks of time on your calendar for uninterrupted work. It’s better to schedule a series of meetings in one day than to spread them throughout the week.

If you’re creating content, block out one day to create all the content you’ll use for the week. That way your business will run more efficiently.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change

Wrapping it up

With the right strategies, you can turn your business around to make it efficient and lucrative. Automating your processes, setting up the right software and remaining focused on the tasks at hand will go a long way to help you do this. But just as with every good strategy, you need to remain consistent and give it time to do its magic.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How To Multitask Like Tim Ferriss, Randi Zuckerberg And Other Very Busy People

Nine entrepreneurs tell us how they get it all done.

Entrepreneur

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Think you’re busy? Take a look at Guy Fieri‘s calendar. Or a U.S. Army general’s. Or an in-demand teenage actor’s. Or the CEO of a globally recognised company’s.

Some of the busiest people on the planet took time out of their days to tell us how they get it all done. Take note!

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