You can’t fit more hours in a day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be more productive during the hours that you do have. Ann Jenrette-Thomas, founder of Esquire Coaching, has a system that can make this happen.

Imagine it’s your 90th birthday party, and you are surrounded by your loved ones and those whose lives you have impacted. Each person tells the group how they have benefited by knowing you. Write down what you would want them to say, what you want for your legacy. Those items become your priorities in life and in business, your own North Star, so to speak.

Ann then explained the SASS-E system. The first S stands for Strategy. Envision what you want out of your whole life – your career, family, wealth, health, friendships – what do each of these look like when you are at your peak? Assume you reach your peak in 5 years. What will you need to do each year so that in 5 years you achieve your peak? Then break down the first year into quarterly and monthly steps to achieve the first year goal.

The A stands for Adopt a Productivity Mindset. To do this, you need to keep in mind your WHY – why are you doing what you are doing? Why are your goals important, and how will your current actions help you achieve those goals? Keeping those goals and your WHY in front of you will enable you to stay focused.

The second S stands for Systematize. The more you systematize your activities, the easier they become. For instance, every Friday, take some time to think about what you want to accomplish during the next week, in the areas of business, health, family and friends. Identify the key priorities and block out the time to take action in each of these areas.

The third S stands for Self-care. If you don’t take care of your health, you won’t accomplish your business or personal objectives. This is critical for business owners. Self-care covers not just your physical health but your emotional, spiritual and mental/intellectual health as well. Identify some small actions you can take to grow in each of these 4 areas. For instance,

  • For physical health, you may want to drink more water, or exercise at least 10 minutes/day.
  • For spiritual health, you may want to attend religious services at least once/month, or meditate at least 10 minutes daily to center yourself and connect to a higher purpose.
  • For emotional health, you may want to keep a journal where you can write down your emotions, or be more open with others about how you are feeling.
  • For mental health, you may want to say some affirmations daily, or focus on being more present in the moment, or being more grateful.

The final E stands for Eliminate Time Wasters. Every day for a week, keep track of the time you spend on each activity you perform, as well as what the desired accomplishment and what was the actual result. You’ll probably find that you spent some time on non-priority matters, and that there were some matters that could have been better handled by others. For example, If you are looking at email every time an email arrives, you can’t focus very well. Turn off the automatic send/receive, and try to limit email review to 3 times/day.

Ann provided one final tip to help us improve our productivity: use a timer. When you are “on the clock”, you will gain laser-focus and have a little adrenaline rush, which will allow you to work more effectively. Ann used this tip to help her write her 115 page book in just 3 weeks!