From the Desk of Paul:

Productivity-Killer #3 - You tolerate, or welcome, distractions because you likely don't have a solid plan for the day.

Last month I revealed the second of the five biggest productivity-killers in your practice: 2. You tolerate too many unproductive relationships!  This month I’ll reveal the next productivity-killer and give you some practical steps to avoid it from the beginning or fix it if it has already infiltrated your practice. 

One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed between good executives and great executives is not just how they managed their people, but more importantly, how they manage themselves.  The most successful leaders refuse to “manage by exception”.  Management by exception is the act of not really having a plan other than just dealing with whatever pops up in the course of the day.  That’s a very reactive way to get work done.  The real issue with this way of working is that you may find yourself working really hard and getting things done; however, the most important things may be getting put on the back-burner on a regular basis, leaving you feeling defeated and overwhelmed.  Some might argue that “I have meetings and other events and tasks on my schedule, so I do have a plan.”  I would say, “No, you have a suggestion for what you will do between distractions!”   

Here's the bottom line, too many of us are doing work that could be delegated to others, thus neglecting the work that only we can do!  Not only are we hurting ourselves, but we aren’t helping our staff to grow professionally either!  So, why don’t we delegate more?  For some, it’s a matter of trust.  For others, it’s the satisfaction of feeling like we got something done and there are just some tasks we enjoy doing and we know we can complete them quickly.  However, when you stop and consider the dollar-value of an hour of your time, does it really make sense to assign yourself tasks that someone else could complete for a much lower rate of pay?  Of course, you will need to spend time training and coaching those to whom you will delegate.  Of course, you will have to put some quality and accountability measures in place to ensure that the task is being done correctly. But that is a good investment of your time!  You are improving the ability of your staff, while offloading tasks that are robbing time from those very important things that only you can do! 

Finally, you must be disciplined about taking a systematic approach to planning your days and then stick to the plan!  One way to accomplish this is to allow 30-60 minutes at the end of each day to review your schedule for the next day.  Jot down any notes that are necessary for the next day’s meetings and identify any tasks that need to be completed prior to the next day’s schedule.  Delegate those tasks that someone else can complete.  Give some thought to the two or three most important things on your to-do list and allocate some time to work on those things.  Be diligent about sticking to the plan!  On Sundays, take 30-60 minutes to not only do the above for Monday, but also look at the entire week ahead of you and plan out as much as you can for the entire week.  Doing so will reduce the time it takes on a daily basis throughout the week and gives you a better opportunity to forecast how successful you intend to be in the coming week. 

These are just a couple of suggestions for avoiding distractions that rob your time and attention from the things that only you can do for your organization.  Remember, delegate and make a good plan for every day! 

Paul Meadows,