Let’s face it. Mondays aren’t usually our favorite day of the week.
And it’s not just because the fun and relaxation we enjoyed during the weekend is over.
It’s because we know that on Monday, we’ll be faced with a mountain of decisions to make with little time to do all that needs to be done.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a magic wand to wave over your day and have all of your decisions neatly categorized so you know which ones were a priority?
Well, I can’t give you that wand but I can give you the next best thing.
In order to be productive, we must always be asking ourselves questions.
Who needs this? When? Why? And am I the one who should do this?
Here are 4 quick questions to ask yourself that will clear your day so you can do what you’re best at doing:
Can I dump it?
When children are young, they often use the word “no” too often. But for many of us, we quickly segued into saying “yes” to everything. It could be that we were afraid people wouldn’t like us if we said “no.” Or we wanted to be seen as capable, able to handle even the heaviest of workloads.
But it isn’t productive to say “yes” to everything. It just isn’t.
You can only focus on so many activities during the day and if you say “yes” all the time, important items will fall through the cracks.
Knowing what to say “no” to is just as important as knowing when to say “yes.”
You need to understand your priorities.
What is your role within an organization? If you’re an entrepreneur, why did you become one? What is the best use of your skills and experience? What are you really, really good at?
Make anything related to your brilliance a priority. That’s your “secret sauce” and it’s the value you bring to an organization or your own business.
Saying “no” takes diplomacy. You need to be firm when saying it but not rude. If it’s an item that needs attention quickly, there may be someone else who can do it.
But if it comes back to you, you either may have to be stronger with your “no” or work out an alternative. Many times, the need isn’t as urgent as some may say it is.
Can I delegate it?
Probably one of the tougher questions an entrepreneur needs to ask.
If you work within an organization, usually other people can take on a project. But if you work for yourself or you’re involved with a startup, you usually end up tackling a task that could be done by someone else.
For administrative tasks, you can check out online solutions (such as oDesk), or look into hiring someone in your town, such as a high school or college student. You would be giving them valuable skills to use in their own careers while freeing up your time to focus on what really needs to get done.
The one thing to remember about delegation is this: Don’t expect the other person to do the job exactly as you would and don’t expect the same results.
If you pick at a person’s finished work, finding minor items that could be changed, then you wasted all the time gained by the act of delegation.
The secret to delegation is to remind yourself that you’re saving time by releasing something that would have taken your focus away from your unique talent. Let someone else handle some tasks and don’t nitpick over the details.
Truly. Let it go.
Can I defer it?
We can’t put everything on a “someday” list but there are some items that can be deferred to next week or next month.
You want to be careful with this one. If you defer something too long, it can rear its ugly head as an URGENT item with a capital “NOW” in front of it.
This is when great time management comes into play.
Only you know how long it takes you to complete certain tasks.
If you know, for instance, that you’ll need at least a week to do something and it’s due in two weeks, then understand you’ll have to make this item a priority next week on Monday.
Make sure you keep a list of items deferred and their final deadlines. Put them on your calendar with reminder alerts set. That way, you’ll keep on top of them.
Can I do it now?
I’d say email would fall into this category. I admit there have been times I’ve allowed an email message to sit in my inbox and then forgot about it. If it’s an email that needs a simple answer, then just do it. It only takes seconds to send a reply.
For other projects, you can look at your schedule and see if you have time to do something now instead of saying no, delegating it, or deferring it.
I love the phrase, “money loves speed.” It’s because the faster you do something, the more you can accomplish.
And when you accomplish a series of projects that ultimately are meant to make you money, you have a better chance of making it because you’re getting so many things done.
Make sure you reward yourself for getting jobs done. I’m a big believer in self-bribery! Maybe you can treat yourself to a movie after you’ve finished your workday. Or your favorite coffee beverage. Or a new pair of shoes.
Whatever it is, make it something special that you usually don’t give to yourself.
Tackling a project head-on is a great way to start your Monday and the momentum can carry you through the rest of the week. Those who take prompt action today are the leaders of tomorrow.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. If you start to ask yourself these questions each day, you’ll begin to find what author Julie Cameron calls the “vein of gold.” That is the area where your unique blend of talents and skills come together to produce magnificence. You want more of that in your life and less of the “busy work” that really doesn’t allow you to shine.
Here’s to a great week for both of us!