During the holidays I was talking to my brother-in-law about this and that, and I randomly asked him what his daily routine at work looked like. His response both surprised and intrigued me. Each day he arrives at work, he gets out a piece of paper (yes, a piece of paper!) and writes down the five biggest things he needs to accomplish during the day as well as other tasks, conversations, meetings, etc. Only then does he turn on his computer and check his email. I asked him why he did that and he said he didn’t want emails to drive how he spent his time that day. This had me wondering what others are doing to stay in control of their workday to achieve maximum results in the workplace and at home. Here are some easy ideas you can implement today.
Turn off email notifications. The constant beep that signals ‘you’ve got mail.’ Unless you are waiting for an email that could mean life or death (is there such a thing?), you don’t need that beep. Yes, you have mail, and now you will check it and stop working. Say it’s a building notification or a new policy or procedure email, both of which can wait. You have now lost track of what you were doing and will spend more energy getting back into your ‘zone.’ Instead, schedule time on your calendar to check emails at regular intervals, perhaps three to five times throughout the day. It might amaze you how much work you get done when you aren’t constantly stopping to read and respond to emails and notifications.
Identify your most effective time of day. As adults, we all know what our ‘best’ time of day is. Early morning? Right after lunch? The hour before quittin’ time? Whenever it is, schedule big project work or your more ‘cerebral’ tasks at this time, and save the straight-forward rote tasks during your ‘off’ times. For me, this means scheduling key meetings and writing time in the mornings and saving the formatting work (I do instructional design) in the afternoon, so I can listen to music and push through my afternoon slump.
Fully engage in a task. I’m writing this one mainly for myself as I am the QUEEN of multi-tasking! Notice I didn’t say the queen of accomplishing tasks. I am constantly trying to get more done at the same time but, as I am learning, the distraction is actually causing me to get less done overall. I am now trying to fully engage in one thing, just for less time. For example, if I need to write a technical blog and I also have Facebook and Pinterest open, you can bet I’ll be going back and forth for the next two hours. The temptation is just too strong. If I have everything shut down other than my writing, I no doubt will finish in 30-45 minutes. While multi-tasking can be stimulating, it’s not always the best path to productivity.
Find the thing (or things!) that recharges you and do it on a weekly basis. What I mean here is knowing what feeds your soul and scheduling it into your week. I don’t mean something work-related or that you get paid to do. This could mean playing video games Sunday afternoon or binge-watching a good Netflix series. For me, I love to organize and read. Completely unplugging from work is incredibly key to hitting it hard when you do return to the office. Make it a priority.
Try one or all of these ideas and let me know how it goes. All of us at Kalles Group wish you a productive, successful, and fulfilling year!