Ramsey: Secret enemies of productivity

You probably feel there are rarely enough hours in a day, no matter how hard you work, to get things done. But being distracted doesn’t necessarily mean keeping up with friends online, or spending hours watching cat videos. There are other forces at work, many of them business related, that can secretly keep you from being productive.

Issue: Email

It’s all too easy to fall down a rabbit hole when you see dozens of emails sitting in your inbox. But are all of them worth your time and attention? Could some of them be handled by someone else?

Answer: Choose two times during the day to read and reply to email, and put those times on your calendar. If you have an assistant, put them in charge of your email and instruct them to forward only what you need to see.

Issue: Meetings

Getting together for updates, to communicate priorities and to develop new projects is a necessary part of doing business. But meetings can quickly get out of hand. 

Answer: Set a time limit and create an agenda for your meeting. Stick to both. If an issue isn’t resolved in the allotted time, assign someone to work on it and report back by a certain date. Then, move on to the next thing on your calendar.

Issue: Multi-tasking

The ability to multi-task is generally viewed as a valuable skill in the workplace. But the hard, cold truth is few of us do it well. Our brains just can’t handle five things at once for an extended period. In the long run, you end up stressed out, less focused and less productive.

Answer: Start every morning by writing down your goals for the day. Prioritize them and stick to your list, focusing on one task at a time. If you get distracted, take care of the issue, and go back to your list.

Issue: Socializing

I love hanging out with my team. They’re a great bunch of people. But socializing is one of those things that can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful.

Answer: If you’re naturally talkative, block out a few minutes on your calendar each day to socialize, and stick to the time limit. If you don’t like to chat it up, schedule time specifically to interact and be sociable. After all, spending time with your team is an integral part of being a leader.

Respect your time, and you’ll be amazed by how much more you can accomplish—and how profitable that can be!

Leadership and small business expert Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions and author of numerous best-selling books

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