As Americans, we’re some of the busiest people on the planet. Being busy is often regarded as a sign of importance. The busier you are, the more people must need your talents right? But how many times have you gotten to the end of a busy day, and looked back to realize that you didn’t accomplish anything of value?
1. Heavy Multi-Taskers Get Less Done
We all know them. You could probably rattel off three people in your office who are heavy multi-taskers. Phone in one hand, laptop in front of them, all while sitting in a meeting and only half listening. If we were to stop and really think about this situation, doesn’t it seem a bit ridiculous that we could expect to be able to fully engage in a conversation while also having multiple distractions disrupting our attention? It’s important to be present in the moment as this is when you’re likely to be at your peak performance. Focus on one task at a time so that you can think simply and critically about the issue at hand. Paying attention also shows that you respect what the organizer has to say, and respect is a critical component to any solid business relationship.
2. Schedule Yourself
Ping, buzz, beep-beep: These are the sounds of notifications. Email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, meeting planners. It can all be incredibly overwhelming and limit your productivity if you let it. The solution? Schedule your time wisely. It’s easy to pick up your phone every time if beckons you with a vibrating notification or to try and respond to every email as it comes in. But does this help you do your job any more efficiently? Or is it just another form of procrastination. Instead of falling into the notification black hole, schedule blocks of time throughout your day in which you’ll answer emails, respond to messages, or check Facebook. This will help you stay on task and focus on high priority projects and keep you from getting distracted by ticky-tacky communications that really can wait.
3. Be Realistic With Your Time
There are only so many hours in a day and only so much time on this planet, so unless you want to spend all of it working, you’re going to need to commit to the things that really can get done. There is not a worse feeling (in my opinion at least) than committing to too much and not being able to execute at the highest level on all of it. Be realistic about your current time commitments. If you have too much on your plate already, then table that really cool project until you can free up some space. Or better yet, find a way to reassess your priorities so that you can work on that really cool project.
4. Create Agendas and Stick to Them
This happens all too often. The meeting starts out about monthly reports, then all of a sudden starts the downward slide into weekend plans, then veers a hard right into another project entirely. Before you know it your team has spent an hour discussing four topics, none of which are priorities, and none of which were on the original agenda (if there was an agenda to begin with). Creating and sticking to an agenda helps to set expectations for a group during a meeting. It keeps the train on the rails and gives you a basis for bringing the conversation back into line when it starts to wander. This will help you make the most of your teams time which can go a long way towards creating a feeling of value amongst team members.
5. Don’t Be a Weekend Emailer
Work life balance. It’s a term that we all know, but that few seem to strictly abide by. If there’s an emergency, then yes, by all means, respond. But if it can wait (and most of the time it can), then don’t respond. A good strategy is to craft your response while it’s fresh in your mind, but to leave it as a draft until Monday. Doing this will show your team members how important balance is to you, and also shows that you respect their personal lives as well. Setting these boundaries can help to prevent employee burnout and can give people a much needed mental reprieve.
What are some of your favorite ways to increase your personal or team productivity? Share in the comments below!