When you instill accountability, you create a path to productivity

We all want to accomplish more in our daily lives.

We endure more interruptions, meetings, obligations and distractions than we care to admit. At the end of a long day, we scratch our heads and wonder where the day went and why more wasn’t accomplished.Start simple — the answer fits in your pocket.

At the beginning of every day I pull out a three-by-five index card and list five to 10 things I want to accomplish that day, in order of importance. I then put the card in my pocket and refer to it a couple of times during the day.

I tackle the hardest tasks in the morning, when I have the most energy.

As I accomplish each task, I cross it off my list. For 25 years, I’ve used this simple method and I’m still amazed by how many things I manage to get done. It can help you get a minimum of 20 percent more accomplished each day, and some people put the boost at closer to 50 percent. It works for everyone.

The card enables you to stay focused on the most important tasks at hand, discouraging time-wasting distractions such as the Internet, or less important concerns.

Employees need checklists
Simple checklists are used every day — from pilots to surgeons, from quality inspectors to customer service workers.

Any employee and department can benefit by having one. Checklists ensure compliance in all tasks, including the most mundane, the most important and everything in between.

A prioritized list keeps people accountable, preventing managers from having to remind and retrain people constantly.

As CEO of E.J. Basler Co., I make sure that every employee uses checklists to ensure our customers consistently receive a high-quality product. Our checklists cover every detail and dimension our customers require.

Deadlines are your most powerful tool
We’ve all been in meetings where people have volunteered or have been assigned tasks and, two weeks later, come back to the meeting and nothing was done. Good intentions are everywhere, but often, very little is accomplished. It’s time to pull out your deadline tool and use it regularly.

When you assign a task or project to someone, give him or her a deadline and put their name on it. It’s simple yet powerful, and you’ll find that things start to get done. Suddenly, accountability will come into focus and people start to realize how important a particular project or task is to you.

The peer pressure alone helps with this tool — at the next meeting, no one wants to be the only one who missed the deadline. This works well with your employees, but it also works well with your suppliers and service providers. Also, deadlines seem to work miracles for home improvement projects.

Without deadlines, contractors are prone to disappear for a few weeks after starting work. With an imposed deadline, however, a project gets done in a timely manner. Checklists and deadlines are two powerful tools, so use them every day. ●