So many of my colleagues and clients express a desire to have more hours in the day. Somehow I don’t feel this is the solution- wouldn’t we just fill it up with longer to-do lists?!
I love those work days when I can shut down my computer at night and feel like I accomplished something that day- be it a complex task for my to-do list or just finally booking my dentist appointment.
We all want to make the most of our day. Check out these 6 simple ways to be a productive powerhouse.
1. Find your sweet spot
Everyone has a certain time of day where they feel the most energized and productive. For me, it’s somewhere between 6 and 9am. For a nightowl, it may be 10pm to midnight. Regardless, find that moment and maximize it- shut the office door (if you have one), turn off the phone, and just leap into ANY task on your list. Sometimes starting with an easy task stimulates the energy to tackle something larger.
Lastly- set an alarm and/or post an “out of office” sign at work. If your children/staff/spouse know that you are committed to a time-limited focused work session, they are more apt to suspend their request knowing you’ll be free at a specific time. If there is no one banging down your door after your sweet spot expires, there’s nothing to stop you from keeping the flow going.
2. Work in airplane mode
Ever notice how much you can get done when you’re forced to turn off your wi-fi? When the work piles up, consider digitally “unplugging” so as to minimize distractions. It doesn’t have to be all-day; even a couple of hours of focused work can knock off a chunk from your to-do list. For me, it’s sometimes a change of place away from people I know- I love my local library. And, as a university alumna, I also have access to quiet campus rooms (and cheap printing!) at my alma matter. Find what works for you- turn off and work on.
3. Theme your week
Consistency is key. Financial Fridays. Marketing Mondays. Inventory Tuesdays. Knowing you have consistent days set aside to tackle specific tasks helps lighten the “every day” workload. Obviously, things will come up that demand your attention, but knowing that you can cram all your receipts in a folder to be bulk processed on your day of choice helps free up your most valuable daily resource- your mind.
4. Task it and forget it
If you can delegate it, do. If you can’t, schedule it to be done. If it’s on your list for more than a week, ask yourself what is missing for to complete it; are you waiting for info? time? specific resources? Maybe the task is too daunting and needs to be broken down into more specific sub-tasks. Or, maybe you simply need to evaluate if it is still a relevant to-do.
5. Streamline email
The “carbon copy” function within email programs is a blessing and a nightmare. I once had a co-worker who cc:d everyone, on EVERYTHING. I eventually went to my boss about it, but it never fully resolved until a few of us sat down with her over coffee and walked her through our company email protocol (something she had never been taught). If this sounds like your office, here are some steps to streamline your inbox.
Make sure to clarify with your team the scope of communications- who is responsible for specific types of messages (common areas are service requests, HR issues, schedules, etc). The marvel of email technology is that most messages are kept in a searchable sent folder; if someone truly needs the info, it can be forwarded within a reasonable timeline.
- If, as a boss, you prefer to be cc:d on everything, consider adding a special email address that acts as a “file folder” for “info only” emails from your team, i.e. FYI@yourbiz.com. Your main email address then remains the contact for emails requiring responses, etc.
- Consider a “social” work email address for newsletters and product updates- most of us will never get through them all during the weekday, or don’t have time to fully explore them, and they run the risk of being a distraction. A separate email account helps keep them organized so you can peruse, at your leisure, during a coffee break or long train ride.
6. Purge your inbox
You have three options when it comes to your email:
- respond to it
- file it
- add it as a task to your to-do list (and then file the original email immediately).
I actually have two folders in my email which I review and purge first thing each day: “to do” and “waiting for response”. This helps keep my inbox clean, and prevents the dreaded inbox overflow aka “where all good emails go to die”.
We are all faced with tasks that place demands on our time; balance comes from an ideal mix of time and productivity. What are your favorite tricks for saving time and getting organized? I’d love to hear ‘em- tweet me @CorporateCanuck.
Not sure where to start? Check out these productivity essentials!