I admit I’m obsessed with efficiency. To me it’s about working smarter, not harder. Planning my week out ahead of time means I can maximize my time the way I want. Since time is equal to all, I just want to make sure I’m optimizing mine.
For those of you who can’t relate because you feel disorganized, here’s some practical tips to control your schedule:
1) Use your Smartphone Calendar Daily. iPhone users have the luxury of syncing everything (as long as you have Apple products) so once you devices are connected, you have no excuse to forget dates, run errands and pay bills with alerts and reminders. There are three color coded categories preset: work, home and social/out. I encourage you to put everything you do in your phone. That includes meetings, when to exercise, follow-up emails, paying bills, projects, etc. Putting events in your phone means you don’t have to remember them. It’s like working on auto-pilot. Our brains aren’t meant to multitask (no matter what you’ve heard before), therefore make it easier on your brain by setting alerts.
2) Network Spreadsheet. Relationships are your greatest asset. Remember that. It doesn’t matter how career-driven or lazy you are, you need people. One thing that has helped me tremendously is tracking my contacts. I use Numbers (Apple’s version of Excel) to organize all the people I’ve met into different lists (similar to Twitter). In each category, I color code based on how I last contacted someone: black – email, blue – phone/Skype, green – in person, orange – text and red – need to get back to them. I also date it so I know how long ago since the last time we communicated. On top of that I use LinkedIn to write a note to myself about how we met and what we last talked about so I can pick up the conversation where we left off. Also take into consider prioritizing. I go from left to right. On the left side are people I need to keep in touch with so the frequency is more. Towards the right are people I just met so it’s not as frequent, but if our relationship grows they move “left” on the spreadsheet. You don’t have to use a system like this, but its just an example of how I organize my network.
3) Leave Gaps. As someone who’s goal-oriented, I like to achieve. The worst thing I can do is pack my schedule too tight where I get behind early and can’t finish what I intend to accomplish. Let’s say you have a coffee meeting that is supposed to last 30 minutes. Factor in the commute, extra time to talk, one of you being late, etc. and I’m sure the time slot allotted will be much higher. It takes some experimentation, but in the end you can estimate pretty accurately over time. We live in a world where everyone is in a rush, so why not go against the grain? I’m not saying be slow, but give yourself extra time to get stuff done. Back to the whole multitasking concept, give yourself a break between tasks to rest. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to make mistakes. On a personal note when I planned the majority of my wedding, I put this idea of “leaving gaps” into action. As I worked in tandem with our wedding coordinator, I created a schedule for everyone involved (imagine getting separate timelines from the groom). The result: our family and friends said we were the most relaxed couple they’ve ever seen get married. That’s because the planning and preparation were done ahead so once it was showtime, we had nothing to be worried about.
You can tell by these examples that efficiency matters to me. It’s what I pride myself on and the standard I hold others to. I realize everyone doesn’t think the same as me and that’s fine. But if any of these tips can help you become more efficient, this post was worth writing. So have fun working smarter, not harder!