Do you ever feel like you can’t get anything done at work? Or do you look at your to-do list in the morning and feel like it is exactly the same as the night before? In a world that is increasingly productivity driven, especially in competitive industries like design, sales or technology, getting bogged down in productivity killers can not only ruin your day but can also drag down your career.
Staying on top of your work is important, so a great way to start getting more done is to determine what gobbles up all your time. Once you’ve figured out what you actually spend your time doing, you can take steps to correct your schedule and find more time for work—and maybe even more time for yourself, too!
The ability to communicate instantly with anyone, anywhere is an awesome tool—but becoming addicted to email can be deadly to your schedule. If you have your email open on your computer at all times, you will see every message as it comes in. This can not only be mildly distracting, but it could also give you the urge to answer every email instantly, completely draining your email productivity. Even though the ease of communication is a good thing, constantly watching your inbox consumes many precious minutes out of your day.
The Fix: Close your inbox. You can open it and check it as often as you need to, maybe once every half hour to an hour. Responding to emails in that amount of time is considered responsible in most offices. If you need to leave your email account open, try changing your settings so you don’t receive distracting notifications while your email account is minimized on the screen.
It may seem like you are getting more done, but doing more than one thing at once may actually be slowing you down. When you are doing two things at once, both will take you longer than if you just focus all of your energy on one at a time.
Also, both tasks may be done to lower standards if you aren’t focusing on them completely. Talking on the phone and typing an email at once may seem like a good idea, but in reality, you will probably need to ask someone to repeat something over the phone, and then you’ll have to go back and rewrite any misspelled words in the email.
The Fix: Make a list of the tasks that you need to accomplish and then work down the list. Even if you don’t get everything done, you will spend less time on each task and each task will be done to a better standard of quality.
If you have a lot on your plate, write things down so you don’t forget them. You’ll spend more time trying to remember everything you have to do than you would writing down the tasks you need to accomplish.
The Fix: Using technology is a great way to track your assignments. Outlook has many features that can help you stay focused, as do most smartphones and other devices. Whether you use a notepad or a task manager, writing things down is a definite timesaver.
Do you have 30 minutes to meet with John to talk about the five minute phone call you had with an important client? Probably not. Scheduling meaningless meetings is not helpful to anyone. In fact, the time spent preparing for, setting up and attending a meeting drains important time from everyone’s schedule. Sometimes meeting are necessary, but most of the time they aren’t.
The Fix: Make sure your meetings are absolutely necessary if you are going to put the time and effort into planning, preparing for and attending them. For a lot of instances, a short email can take the place of a long meeting.
However you find yourself spending your time, if you feel like your productivity is lagging, try some of these fixes for common productivity killers! You might find that you have time in your schedule that you didn’t know was there.
Image by Sonja Langford