How to Avoid Wasting Time Finding Stuff

You’re finally ready to start on that project you’ve been putting off. The really important one with the deadline coming up like the headlamp of an oncoming train.

You’ve blocked out the time. You have your beverage of choice. The door is closed and you think you’ll have a precious 60 interruption-free minutes.

What happens next?

You look for the files, information, and supplies you need so you can get into the work. It might be the latest template or form. Perhaps it is a collection of facts or research that you asked your staff to get ready for you. Whatever it is, it takes you much longer than you thought to get what you need.

The next thing you know you’ve wasted the most important part of your block – the beginning. You’ve lost your mojo. Now you’re stuck going longer or you might even decide there isn’t enough time to get into it – so that can get kicked down the road (again).

That’s the false start.

Don’t worry. This happens to everyone – including me.

And when it does I’m reminded again how important it is to have a system and to follow your system. The system fix for this is to assemble the information you need the night before (or earlier).

Here are a few tips to help you make it happen:

You’re doing a weekly plan, and planning your time blocks a day in advance, right? If not. Start there.

When you create your block for the big project, be really specific about which portion(s) of it you’re planning to get done. This will help you identify what you need, and where it will come from.

If you need information from other people, like your client or an assistant, let them know what you need, and by when so it is ready for you when you begin. Having a brief daily check-in with your assistant will really help with this so they know your priorities and how to best support you.

You’ll likely need to gather information yourself as well. Use some of the low energy planning time in advance of the task to decide what you need, or better yet, put it in a place you can find it.

For example, if you have to access multiple files on your system or online, you might have a single document with all of the links handy so all you need to do is click to go directly to the document. This small step saves lots of time!

These small steps will help you get the most out of the high-energy time you’ve blocked out for working on that really important project. And you’ll have fewer false starts.


P.s. … If you liked this tip check out my most recent Productivity Hacks – get your copy here.