While many of us know what we want to achieve, it’s often derailed because of numerous factors. Some might be external (caused by others), but I’ve found many are internal (caused by myself).
It’s one thing to “get things done” that satisfies whoever you report to, but it’s a completely different thing to accomplish tasks AND have the time to build a better, stronger version of your organization or project.
In other words, how do you take massive action (as Tony Robins famously declares) to execute and contain the essential work, but build time to grow professionally that takes your organization to the next level.
As a brief caveat, this article is not for personally structuring your life, but professionally structuring your work routine to see massive growth.
I’ve found three simple strategies (deep work, batch work, Pareto Principle) and three tech platforms (Omni Focus, Evernote, Upwork) that have exponentially transformed how I manage my work week, which has yielded professional success.
Deep Work as a concept is quite self-explanatory, yet rarely happens for our notification-crazed world. Between emails and phone “stuff”, it’s a miracle anyone focuses and pushes things forward in a significant way. While these tools are incredibly helpful, they’ve also become a huge distraction and sometimes counterproductive depending on how you use them.
Not everyone is in a position to apply “deep work” to their job, but if you can, here’s what I suggest.
- Put your phone on airplane mode for at least three hours at a time.
- Turn off email so you don’t get notifications or even “see” your inbox on your computer.
- Focus on the biggest tasks of the day during that three-hour period.
- Don’t schedule any meetings with people during this period.
Eliminating distractions (even meetings) will allow you to focus on one task, as it has become evident recently that multi-tasking is not productive. It’s all about single-tasking or mono-tasking.
By entering a “deep work” state for a few straight hours, the quality of output rises because you solely focus on producing something great, not mediocre.
It also allows you to push projects forward in ways you couldn’t when distracted by everything and everyone.
I’ve found batch work a key tactic to higher quality output. While everyone has different work set-ups, I’ll use mine as an example. Working in a PR firm can be manic with clients vying for your attention and with diverse types of work for each client.
I realized that for success to continue, I needed to use the “batch work” principle in managing clients. This namely requires me to lump certain types of work together on one day, spaced out throughout the week (writing, pitching, social media, business development, etc.).
I also found batch work to be valuable in keeping client work siloed on specific days. Then, the rest of the week is maintaining client relationship through email, phone, and my support staff. But the initial weekly work is “batched” on one day. By taking this approach, I make sure not to schedule other big clients on the same day, which helps keep me fresh, producing better output.
You’ve probably seen the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule applied to everything, but I’m also a fan of it. As I think about productivity, doing great work for clients, and continuing to grow the firm, I’m applying this principle to scheduling my work week.
Out of five days, I take one day (20%) to focus on business development. This entails:
- Skill Development– Learning new skills and taking courses on Skillshare to stay fresh on the new developments in marketing, technology, and business.
- Prospecting– Pursuing prospective clients to continually network and keep the business pipeline fresh for future months/years.
- Branding– Continually working on my personal and business brand through developing content, strategy, and implementing it all. As entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk asserts, branding drives sales. Focusing on branding will affect long term sales than if you solely focused on sales.
I’ve found that taking 20% of the work week to develop the business yields about 80% of business income. It’s no surprise that I’m a firm believer in this principle and guard this part of my work week.
If you are in an executive or senior position at your organization, I highly recommend using all three strategies described to take your work, and hence your organization, to the next level.
While this is all conceptual, I have specific platforms/services I use to help me implement these strategies into my work week.
Omni Focus is a fancy to-do list software. It’s a fantastic way to schedule repeat tasks, assign tasks to specific days, and create task lists around multiple projects. I use it every day!
Evernote is a fancy way to take notes. I used to be on phone calls, in meetings, and doing business by jotting notes down on notepads. Then, when things grew I quickly realized that there has to be a better way of organizing all of the peripheral, but essential, pieces of information pertaining to work. Evernote does the trick and I’ve been using it for years now.
Upwork is a new global freelancing platform to hire skilled contractors and manage communication with them. I recently started using Upwork and have found it one of the best additions to my company. Not only have I hired a great assistant through this platform, I use it to regularly communicate work tasks. I like it because it’s a hiring and communications platform all-in-one. However, if I wasn’t using this for communicating with my team, I would use Slack, which has become very popular with companies in recent years.
Through using deep work, batch work, and the 80/20 principle, I’ve been able to transform my output. Using platforms like Omni Focus, Evernote, and Upwork assist me greatly and I hope you find them helpful, too.