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The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Productivity Secrets of Top Performers

This article by Denise Landers, founder and CEO of Key Organization Systems Inc. and Paper Tiger Expert, will help encourage and empower you to become more productive by setting goals and implementing better time management! Denise also recommends Paper Tiger Filing System Software and Document Management to help with your filing system to actually be able to find what you need, when you need it.

CEO of Key Organization Systems Inc.

What separates the achievers from their competitors?

by Denise Landers

Ever wonder what separates the very best performers in any field from their competitors? Lots of people would point to genetics, education, or maybe just a bit of luck, and these all certainly play a part. But usually, those parts aren’t as big as you might think…

That’s because, when you dig a little bit deeper, you find that top salespeople, executives, and entrepreneurs all have one thing in common: they set goals and are very intentional about their time when it comes to reaching them. By keeping calendars, lists, and other organizational tools up-to-date, they avoid that feeling of having the day or week “just slip away…”

There’s no reason you can’t do the same. The trick is simply to become more focused and not let yourself become distracted by problems, issues, or even opportunities that would keep you from reaching your long-term goals. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  • Set a big goal. Decide for yourself what an extreme achievement would mean to you in your field. Would you have to earn a promotion, open up a couple of large accounts, finish your degree, or something else altogether? Figure out what it is and make that your target.
  • Turn it into smaller goals. Work out what you would likely have to do on a day by day and week by week basis to stand a good chance of reaching your larger goal. Maybe you would need to spend 45 minutes a day on client proposals, or study for an hour each morning to earn a new certification. It doesn’t matter what the work comes out too, only that you turn it into something that’s possible five or six days a week.
  • Make those smaller goals your daily priority. Here’s the hard part: once you’ve figured out what you need to do to become a top performer, you can’t become distracted. Whether it means coming in to work an hour early, shutting your door and unplugging your phone, or just telling your assistant that you can’t be bothered unless the building’s on fire, you have to do whatever you can to ensure you hit your short-term goals each and every day.

When you still find yourself getting distracted throughout the day so that your focus is interrupted, take one week to try a technique used by many productivity experts: the time log.

If you have ever been to even one serious time management seminar, you’ve already heard the advice to keep a time log (a record of how you’ve spent your day down to the minute) as a first step to getting control your calendar… and you’ve heard the dozens of groans around you from the men and women who have heard this tip before and ignored it.

The fact of the matter is, people don’t like keeping time logs. Not only are they tedious, but they would seem to get in the way of the one thing these busy professionals are really trying to accomplish – having fewer tasks on their plate, and more time to do them in. And so, a lot of time management professionals don’t even bother with them anymore, or at least don’t hold out big hopes that attendees will give them a try.

That’s too bad, however, since one thing that tends to get forgotten about time logs is that they work. Here are three reasons productivity experts love time logs, and why you should try using one for at least a week:

  1. They make you engaged in your own productivity. Becoming more productive doesn’t just happen; it takes a little bit of work and more than a few hard decisions. None of that is possible until you are actively working to get control of your schedule, and time logs are great first step in that direction.
  2. Time logs give you an accurate (and often unexpected) picture of where your time is going. Most busy people think they know how they’re spending their time, but it isn’t until they actually see the totals listed on paper that they truly understand how changing a few small habits can make such a big difference. Keep track of how you’re spending your time – down to the minute – for at least a week, and I can promise you’ll find one or two eye-opening surprises.
  3. Just keeping the time log makes you better with your time. In a way, time logs themselves can bring an instant efficiency upgrade. Why? Because no one wants to write down that they spent 20 minutes drinking coffee or reading the paper. Just paying attention to what you’re doing can often break you of a bad habit, so start a time log and put your powers of observation to use.

These aren’t complicated pieces of advice, of course, but if you can follow them, it’s only a matter of time before productivity becomes a habit – one that will make other people wonder how you got the genetics, education, and luck to become one of the best in your field.

For more details on managing projects and time management techniques, read our article on Project Management.

Contact Denise Landers

Author of Destination Organization

Call Denise at (281) 397-0015

Have you ever tried to “get organized” only to be frustrated after a day, or a week, or a month?  Destination: Organization recognizes that reaching your organizing goals is a journey, not a one-time event, as you develop processes to cope with daily demands that constantly change.

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