Ben over at The Instigator Blog has launched an interesting group writing project to create The Ultimate Guide to Productivity, a collection of productivity tips from around the blogsphere. As with any effort of this sort, you'll find ideas that work for you next to ideas that make absolutely no sense for the way your brain is wired. No matter -- the real value comes from assessing your work habits, identifying the waste and inefficiencies, and then making appropriate changes.
Here's my contribution: learn to live in your calendar.
Most people don't have a clear plan for their activities and responsibilities for each day, and as a result, they lose time trying to figure out what they should do. Think about the last time you went to the supermarket without a shopping list -- how long did it take you to get out of there? How much money did you spend? If you're like 99% of the population, the answers are "too long" and "too much." And that's for something simple like buying groceries.
You need to be religious about putting all your commitments into your calendar. Only by "living in the calendar" can you see all the commtiments you've made and allocate your time accordingly.
If you're an Outlook user, you can help yourself by setting the program to open in Calendar (rather than the Inbox). Here's how:
1. Go to Tools => Options
2. Select the Other tab and click on Advanced Options
3. Click the Browse button. Select Calendar. Click Okay.
Now when you start up your computer in the morning, the first thing you'll see is what you have to do -- not all the noise and clamor in your email. (And don't forget to buy the Fruit Loops.)