1. Don’t prioritise (i.e. decide which activities you are going to well and which you are going to do badly) — instead select which activities you are going to do properly and get rid of the rest.
2. Whenever you find yourself using words like “always” and “never” in connection with a problem (“The data sheets always go missing”, “I never seem to be able to remember the action I agree to take at meetings”, etc. etc.) there is something wrong with the system. Take the time to think through the system so you can put it right for good!
3. Remember Parkinson’s law - work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If you have too much to do, shorten your working hours. It sounds weird but it works!
4. Always cost meetings - and only hold/attend ones that provide more value than they cost.
5. You work more efficiently with definite scheduled cut-off points, e.g. breaks, end of work, timed bursts.
6. Always clear your in-tray (paper and email) completely every day - or, if you prefer, several times a day. If you have allowed a backlog to build up, ring- fence it and deal with it as a separate project.
7. Don’t just work at your job. Work on it as well. You should aim to spend at least 20% of your time planning, thinking and strategizing.
8. Schedule your leisure at least as hard as you schedule your work.
9. Never put off starting work on a major project because the deadline seems a long way off — little and often is the rule.
10. Remember every time you take on something new, you have to stop doing something old.
[This article appeared in the most recent issue of my newsletter]