Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day. The question is, are you using them productively? Sure, many of us know the obvious steps we can take to be more productive, like limiting idle chatter and staying off social media while working. Here are some additional tips to enhance your productivity:
Block your time. This is the best strategy I know for increasing your productivity. Wherever possible, bundle tasks that are similar in a sixty-to-ninety minute window. For example, you might block sixty minutes every morning to check voicemail and return calls or emails. You might also block your networking and client service time as well.
Know when you’re “in the zone.” Everyone has a time of day they are most productive. Leverage that time to work on your most critical tasks whenever possible. The more you understand your personal productivity cycle the easier it is to schedule tasks that take “less brain power” for times when you are less productive.
Don’t over-commit. Nothing kills productivity faster than over-commitment. Be mindful of the amount of time you have. Learn to say no without leaving your colleague in a bind. Provide alternate solutions for how the task can be completed.
Delegate. Don’t be afraid to pass some tasks to others–it can be a great learning opportunity for that person and a huge capacity builder for you. Delegating successfully requires that you give clear assignments and instructions. I always recommend agreeing with co-workers, colleagues and employees that there is no dumb question and never too much instruction when it comes to delegating a task. Be willing to trust those you delegate to and remember to recognize the person for their work, publicly whenever possible.
Stay focused. You may believe you are more productive when you multi task. Whether it is listening to music and writing that report, or participating in a conference call and returning emails – splitting your attention between two or more tasks greatly diminishes your productivity. Try doing one thing at a time for just a day and see how much your productivity increases. It is the power of focused attention that supports you in completing your task more accurately and typically in less time.
Establish a planning routine in advance. If you like a to-do list, try doing one the night before so you’re ready for the next day. If you have a system that works for you use it! Remember what does not get scheduled typically does not get done so block time in your calendar for all your critical activities including planning.
Clarify your objective. The more clear your objective, the easier it is to create a plan to achieve it. Wherever possible make sure you are goals are “SMART:” Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable and Timely and connect to the things you really want to achieve and have passion for. Your passion and desire will keep you motivated and engaged which is the secret key to working productively.
-Cornelia Shipley, Career Coach