1. Start tomorrow today. Ever arrive at the office or start your day in the fog of indecision? You know you have a ton of things to do, but aren't really sure where to begin? This kind of indecision can be paralyzing. You end up wandering from task to task with no real sense of direction or plan to your day. You spend your day in a passive posture, allowing your day to lead you instead of you leading it.
Actively engage your day by planning it out the night before. Sit down with pen and paper or your favorite "to do" list app and write down everything you need to accomplish in order to make tomorrow a win. Not only will you find that you sleep more soundly, you'll wake up with purpose. When your feet hit the ground you'll know exactly what to do.
2. Use email templates. As Barnabas Piper recently stated on the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, "Email begets email. You send an email it will come back three-fold." Answering email feels like a productive task, but in reality it keeps you from spending your time on what truly matters. The more email you send, the more you receive. Its a never ending cycle.
One way to decrease the amount of time you spend on email is to create templates for common emails and use them. Better to spend time constructing a good and effective communication once than to repeatedly create ineffective email on the same topic. More on how to take back control of your inbox.
3. Make fewer decisions. You can't make decision after decision without paying a cost. Many times this cost will be poor decisions at the end of the day. It could be something as small as wrecking your diet by making poor food choices or as major as an emotional decision with big consequences. In either case, you make the poor decision in large part because you have depleated your will power on unimportant things. The road to effectiveness lies in making the minimal number of decisions possible. The objective is not to do as much as possible but to save your decision making for the decisions that truly matter.
The solution is to automate as much as possible. Much like using templates for email, you can make the seemingly mundane decisions you make each day, such as what to wear and what to eat, ahead of time. Script as many of these decisions as possible. Just as an offensive coordinator scripts the first several plays of the game, you can script the first hour of your day. This will help you begin the day on the right foot and a clean slate for the decisions you will have to make later in the day.