Most of us think we have multi-tasking and “getting things done” down. Really? Think about your work days. How often does it feel like you’re flapping your wings as hard as you can, but you’re never getting off the ground? You’re running around being busy, but not productive.
Busy-ness vs Business
Read these productivity busters. Are you guilty of any of them? Prioritize your day, follow these instructions and you’ll get more done in less time and go home energized instead of stressed out and overwhelmed.
Responding immediately to non-urgent email: Close your email! If it’s open, the urge to check it is almost impossible to resist. Stymie the temptation by closing your mail for chunks of time. Check in every 30 minutes if you have the type of job that requires immediate email responses. (Unless there’s blood or life/death situations) Remember, not every email is urgent. Have a set time to return non-urgent emails. Write it in your calendar and stick to it! Chunking your time during the day (and following #2) will allow you to keep up with your emails.
Trying to keep track of everything in your head: I’ve run into more than a few smarty pants who pride themselves on staying organized (to do’s, calendars, passwords, etc.) in their heads. The problem with this method is that all these bits of information take up valuable mental real estate and deplete your energy. The brain only has so much room to store information. The more crap you put in there, the more that pie is divided up and the less alert and productive you’ll be. Personally, I go old school and have a calendar to literally write down my “time chunks,” so I always know what I have to do. Putting all those tasks onto paper will help you to maintain your energy levels and stay fresh throughout the day. Studies have shown that writing things down (instead of typing them on technology) helps you remember it better, anyway, so just organize it and you’ll be golden!
Jumping into your work before thinking it through: It’s Monday morning and you’ve been pondering what this next week has in store, so you just jump right into the work. But did you ask yourself What is the ONE Thing I can do that will help push this (project, event, whatever) forward, make things easier or even unnecessary? (Thanks, Gary Keller!) If you don’t evaluate which tasks will bring the biggest benefits, it can leave you in a cycle of busywork that leads to nowhere. Take 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to organize each hour and list the 3 tasks that you absolutely want to get finished today. Make sure to check in and ask yourself Why is this task on my Top 3 today? This kind of reflection is critical to making meaningful progress.
Allowing for Interruptions: Did you know that the average person get interrupted about every 11 minutes during the day? It can take up to 1/3 of your day to get back in the groove, again! Between emails, texts, people popping into your office, it’s amazing you get ANYTHING done. What a time suck. You need to move away from your home base and allow at least 4 hours for finishing your 3 tasks without interruption. Yes, there are always little things that come up that can’t be helped-life isn’t that smooth (darn it!), but if you get right back on track, you can keep up the momentum.
These are easy things to incorporate into your work day…. or the rest of your life if that seems out of hand. Just make sure to stay conscious of these steps for at least a month, and they’ll become a normal part of your day. We now know that it takes about 66 days on the average to change habits. Take them day by day and before you know it, you’ll be a productivity powerhouse!