2 Quick Tips to Fuel Your Productivity
Summer is a great time to get through the “housekeeping” section of your to-do list in preparation for the Fall. If, like many of us, you are having a particularly busy summer, you must be thinking that there is no way these “housekeeping” tasks will get “checked off” your list. However, I think you can still get to them. Being busy has little to do with how productive you can be and it can often help your level of productivity (think adrenaline!). Yet, at the heart of the problem is that even the most successful people struggle with productivity. Many elements need to fall into place and not all of them are under your control. Interruptions, lack of sleep and conflicts can certainly hinder productivity. Yet, forethought and a high level of organization – which you can plan and account for – can help you achieve your desired level of productivity.
Here are my 2 cents on how to boost your productivity – any day:
(1) Set a daily agenda – A daily agenda is essentially a to-do list that incorporates times for your deliverables. A daily list is so much better than a long one. It is less daunting, it saves you the time you may waste thinking about what to do next and it can help you stick to the times that you allot for each project. This same logic applies to any meeting you may have; no matter how small, create an agenda to keep the meeting on track and avoid needless tangents. The daily list will take you a few minutes to come up with but it will ultimately save you time. Use “unproductive” transition times (i.e. showering, driving, walking, waiting for the elevator) to brainstorm what will go on that day’s agenda and write it down right after you get to work. Here are three tips to avoid being discouraged by falling off track and to get some of the “housekeeping minutia” off your main to-do list:
- Add an additional 20 minutes to how long you think a task will take to account for interruptions/distractions. This said, “schedule” the distractions that are under your control (i.e. checking email, social media accounts and the news).
- Don’t “over-multitask.” You waste time when you shift your focus from one task to another.
- Select 1-2 non-essential tasks and add them to your daily agenda. Regardless of how many other essential tasks you have, if you don’t do this, you may never find the time to get to them, and real deadlines will always get done. Remember, adrenaline is your friend and when you start getting to the little things, not only do you really move forward but you also feel productive and this motivation is pivotal.
(2) Don’t reinvent the wheel and leverage existing programs – Create and use templates and models. It’s simple. Sometimes you may need to recreate the wheel but this is generally not the case and you can cut the time a task may take to accomplish by using a starting point that has worked for you in the past. For this to work, though, you need to organize and then organize some more. Have notes and folders on your e-mail that you can easily reference. Have a reliable filing system on your computer so that you know exactly where to find information. Always save shared files where your colleagues can access them. This will be a huge time saver for all parties involved. Organizing your emails/files/documents as you create/receive them should be your go-to approach because even though it may take you some time to get used to organizing in this fashion, it will ultimately take longer to undo a messy conglomerate of information. To share and file efficiently, leverage existing programs and applications. These are my favorites:
- Dropbox – Allows you to share files with multiple users and to access them from any of your devices.
- Evernote – Allows you to take notes that you can share and access from all your devices.
- Skype – Allows you to have free video calls when traveling is not necessary (it’s more personal and it saves time).
- Tungle.me or Doodle – Helps you find a time to meet, instead of going back and forth with everyone involved to find a mutually agreeable time.
- Hootsuite – Allows you to schedule your social media updates in bulk to keep you from “over-multitasking”.
Don’t forget to get the right amount of sleep, to breathe when you are feeling overwhelmed, and to reward yourself after a very productive day!