Ben started a writing project on productivity. I had to get productive to even particpate in it. I might have had too much on my desk. I think I might have missed it. Kim asked me to tell about productivity. She even said that sometimes she got mean about it — no, no, not really, well, at least it didn’t seem so. She’s the Kim who is desparately escaping adulthood with Jason.
Still, I can’t let the concept of productivity sit there. So here are 25 ways to get Jazzed about productivity.
- Get up early when no one’s around. Nothing’s more fun than working without interruption.
- Look out the window to greet the day with a few minutes for yoursef before you begin. Then you’ll be ready to dig in.
- Clean off your desk before you start working. If you haven’t done for a while, clean your computer screen too.
- Make sure that the tools you use often through the day are close to you.
- Make to do list. Divide according to what you can move most quickly to get someone else working too.
- Review your calendar for deadlines you have meet. Determine what has be done and how much time you have to do it. Plan for when and how and include breaks.
- If the work takes longer than the time you have, find the work that anyone can do and let anyone do it. Don’t ask for help — delegate. Find a partner, a pal, or an apprentice who wants to learn what you do. Barter their services.
- Don’t multitask. Research shows it’s not productive.
- Choose a task and a move it forward one small step. Then decide if you’ll move it two.
- Choose appointed times during the day to answer email. Every two hours might do.
- When an email or other tpiece of paper bearing a task comes your way. Assign it to a pile — Do it. Delegate it. OR Dump it. If you set it aside, you’ll only have to pick up and go through thinking about it again. That last pile is the waste basket.
- When you are interrupted, learn to say, “Do you mind if I take a minute to finish this?” Then do. Having to start up again will steal the time that it take for you to find your place again.
- Before you make call, know what the outcome is that you want and know how much time you allot yourself. Then at the beginning of the call share the time limit with the person on the other end.
- Know the job and routine of the person or persons you are working with. Understand how your work and decisions impact theirs. That will avoid making work for them, which would, inevitably, make work for you.
- Take a break for 3 or 4 minutes every hour to walk around, giving yourself a change of view.
- Ask a child to solve a problem for you. Better yet have 10 year old organize your supplies.
- Start in the middle of a hard task. Usually we know what the middle of anything we want to do will be. It’s the beginning and end that confuse us.
- Organize a large document by laying all of the pieces of it on the floor and literally looking at it while standing above it with a top-down view.
- Quit thinking poor. Buy the tools you need. Get the best quality you can afford. For those tools you use every day calculate how many pennies per day it will cost you. Then calculate how much time you will save by using the new tool.
- Pick one hour a day that you will not take any outside interruptions — no email, IM, or telephone calls. The hour after lunch is good. Clean your desk before the hour begins and place a task that requires focus on it. Ready for when the hour begins.
- Have a routine for writing that suits the time of day that you write well and get the least interruptions.
- As you begin each task, allot a time to it — how long it will take you to do it. If you find yourself falling far behind at the half-way mark, stop to re-evaluate your understanding of the task.
- Do a sample for every new job and every new task to ensure that what you heard is what folks really want.
- Learn to say “no,’ when you don’t have time. If you can’t say “no,” at least schedule requests for a time when your schedule will allow them.
- Leave one task at the end of the day about 20 minutes from finished. That way when you begin the next day, you’ll be able to accomplish something quickly and start on a roll.
Whew! 25 ways to get jazzed about productivity. Some a little and some are much larger. Every one of them will have its own impact in your life. Choose the ones that work for you. Leave the rest on the proverbial table. A proverbial person just might come along. That proverbial person might find that those you left are exactly the right fit for a problem he or she has been staring at for months.
–ME “Liz” Strauss