Traditionally productivity tends to fall into improving processes or efficiencies or… “working smarter not harder.” With all due respect to clichés, I wanted to share some things I have seen that work for myself and others in improving productivity.
Set the Tone Each Day
Think about how you start your workday. Answering critical emails first thing is important, but the problem with doing so puts you in “reactive” mode from moment one of your day. Don’t be passive, instead take control of your day by taking a moment to look at your calendar and set your agenda and objectives for the day. Something unexpected may (and usually) come up – but you may be surprised at just how much more you can accomplish with a daily plan. It’s there to keep you on track and to feel good about how much you’ve accomplished in a day.
There are really quite a few options for doing this, everything from fancy daily planners to techie software, but one of the easiest things to do is to just use the Reminders/Task app on your phone. In most cases you can even sync it to Outlook.
Get Beyond What You Want to Do
Be it at work or at home, it is natural to do what you “want to do” before what you “should do.” I’m not referring to play before work, but rather certain tasks that you just hate… you avoid. I hate to clean dishes but enjoy doing laundry, so I walk around with clean shirts and dirty dishes in the sink.
You can probably stay busy and productive every day… but are you doing the right things? Take some time to prioritize what needs to be done first and apply discipline and focus to do what’s most important.
Emails, texts, social media notifications, and even noisy office-mates can be distracting. Try and block out all of that with some noise cancelling headphones and music. Even if you have an office headphones are better than shutting your door, which can send some different messages. And about Facebook and email – it takes willpower, but ignore the notifications and focus on the work at hand. If it drives you crazy, turn notifications off. When you complete the task at hand you can check out what’s happened.
Love them or hate them, we need meetings and conference calls. We have said it before, most see meetings as their biggest time waster. If a meeting does not have an agenda and concrete objectives, push back and ask if the meeting is really necessary. If your participation is only needed for a section, ask for that section of the meeting to be placed up front. Another strategy to help ensure meetings don’t distract from your work every day is to set up meetings only one day of the week.
Stay in for Lunch, but Recharge
Often a lunch hour can turn into a much longer endeavor with coordinating schedules, getting people together and out the door and back. No one is saying not to take a lunch – but consider staying in and catching up on social media, ESPN, CNN, etc. during that time. Just like you need a break for lunch, take moments in the day to recharge, get up and stretch your legs to shake off afternoon lethargy. Taking a few minutes every hour will get your blood pumping and keep you sharp.
I hope these tips help you and your team be more productive – and if you ever need help finding the right HR or payroll professional, drop me a note and I will get back to you during my dedicated time to answer emails!