Below is a perpetual list inspired by mentors and productivity gurus such as Tim Ferriss and alike. Suggest other “not to do” items to add to the list by emailing me with your recommendations of what has been keeping you on task, focus and productive.
1. Do not answer phone calls from numbers you can’t recognize. You don’t want to be caught off guard, let the unknown go to voice mail.
2. Do not email first thing in the morning or last thing at night. The former scrambles your priorities before you start the day, The latter gives you insomnia.
3. Do not agree to meetings or calls without clear agenda and time. No calls should last more than 30 minutes.
4. Do not let yourself or others ramble. Stay on topic. Go from “Hey how’s it going, how was your weekend to “what’s up?, I’m in the middle of something but how can I help”
5. Do not check email constantly. Batch checking emails so you don’t get interrupted. Consider checking twice per day only. Stop responding to “manufactured emergencies”. Email is everyone else’s agenda for your time, set up strategic autoresponder.
6. Do not over communicate with low profit, high maintenance customers. Do an 80/20 analysis of your customer base. Which 20% are producing 80% of my profit and which 20% are consuming 80% or more of my time. Put the most prominent of those two on autopilot as much as possible. Share your new rules with customers in bullet points.
“There is no short path to success but the surest path to failure is to try to please everyone” ~ Bill Cosby
7. Do not work more to fix overwhelm. Prioritize. If you don’t prioritize, everything seem to be a priority, if you define a priority, it becomes the urgent thing to do everything else. Define the single, most important task. So if you don’t have time, the truth is, you don’t have priorities so think harder to prioritize, don’t work harder.
8. Do not carry your iPhone or other electronic devices 24/7, it’s a digital leash. Allocate one day per week at least to totally disconnect, leave your phone at home and give yourself a break.
9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non work relationships and activities should. Schedule life and cool activities just as much as you would important work events. Never tell yourself that you will just get something done this weekend.
The only way to get things done truly is once we remove the constant static and distractions. If you have a hard time deciding what to do and prioritizing, focus on “not doing”, focus on the “not to do list” so when you act, your priorities are focused on achieving your goal.