Being Productive Part 2

June 23, 2003

7 Keys To Being Productive (continued)

By: Jim Olsztynski

3. Embrace technology.
I started my career writing on a manual typewriter. When I made the leap to computerized word processing, I was able to churn out at least four or five times the amount of copy in the same amount of time.

During the early 1980s, I was part of a team studying whether computers would be a worthwhile investment for our tiny publishing company. I remember reporting that somewhere around 30% of editorial staff time was devoted to mundane production tasks like cutting and pasting typeset copy to mockup pages. After we got our first computers, production duties were reduced to less than 10% of staff time.

Nowadays, e-mail offers an incredible productivity boost. It may not seem that way when you get bombarded with so much spam and useless chatter (I average 50-60 e-mail messages per day). Yet, it takes only seconds to identify and delete the junk. I've also discovered that I receive far fewer phone calls than in days of old. You can respond to many e-mail messages in the time it takes to complete a single phone call, especially factoring in the inevitable rounds of telephone tag.

Likewise, the Internet has saved me countless hours that I used to spend in a local library doing research for various articles. Information technology doesn't only benefit wordsmiths like me. Anyone in business stands to gain from having so much information and communication a few mouse clicks away.

People who shy away from information technology can't possibly keep pace with competitors that embrace it.

4) Work ahead.
Some people swear they work best when under severe deadline pressure. Might even be true in some cases, although it's also a convenient excuse for procrastination.

Not me. I want time to deal with the unexpected emergencies that always seem to arise when you're busiest. For example, I usually have at least a month's worth of these weekly editions of e-PHC Profit Report prepared in advance, except for the news section, which I write the day I send this out in order to be as timely as possible. But articles like the one you're reading are timeless and can be composed well in advance of publication.

While I write most of my magazine editorials shortly before going to press, I always have a few commentaries prepared that are not time sensitive. These I can plug in on a moment's notice if I get bogged down with other duties or decide to take some time off.

Most of you can identify various tasks in your business that can be handled during lulls. Some people claim to be so harried they can't find time for anything except the business at hand. I suspect most of them simply don't know how to work smart or prioritize.

5) Get in sync with your biological rhythm.
I'm a morning person. You'll find me at my desk by 6:30 a.m. almost every day. The early morning hours also are when I tend to be most creative, so I like to do my writing early in the day and save the afternoons for administrative tasks and other non-creative work.

Many people are just the opposite. They don't get revved up until several hours into the day. I've even met a few people who are at their best in the wee hours of the night. Try to schedule your most crucial work to coincide with the peak hours of your internal clock.

6) Eliminate duplication of effort.
Think of all the correspondence you send out to customers, suppliers, employees, etc. They probably fall into a handful of categories - sales letters, responding to complaints, praise or criticism, etc. It's a waste of time to compose original letters or memos for each of these situations.

Don't think in terms of form letters, which are cold and impersonal. Think of templates, i.e., form letters that can be easily altered to fit different recipients and circumstances. You can save a lot of time if you don't have to compose the boilerplate language over and over.

7) Strike while the iron is hot.
When you get a good idea, either act on it right away or at least jot down detailed notes. It's been my experience that true inspiration strikes only at rare moments. If you don't job them down immediately, they could disappear forever. I've lost some story ideas and other insights that I couldn't recapture after failing to write them down. Now, on occasion, I even get up in the middle of the night write something down.

Excerpted from e-PHC Profit Report
A weekly e-newsletter filled with money-making tips for busy PHC professionals.
Contact: Jim Olsztynski, Editor-Publisher
Subscribe to e-PHC Profit Report

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