Who doesn’t want to get more done all the time? And for those of us who are workaholics, who tend to put in 10-15 hour days we might just be doing more harm than good.
Over the last few years, there has been research done into multitasking – alot of which led to the conclusion that we are not adept at multitasking and by doing so, we actually slow ourselves down rather than get multiple things done.
I think mom had it right, when she told us to do one thing at a time.
So how can you get more done? How can you increase your productivity? All it takes is a few simple steps…
First and foremost minimize distractions. You know what they are, the cell phone/BlackBerry or other smart phone. That is a BIG distraction. Learn to manage your distractions. If you manage people, you can’t keep your door closed and have an open door policy. When your staff come to you, it’s because they’re need guidance and you can’t turn them away. But you can learn to manage your distractions. Lets take meetings – schedule them early in the morning, or late in the afternoon – but not in the middle of the day. They will eat up valuable time – by scheduling them earlier or later your focus will remain on the meeting not on the number of e-mail messages waiting, or phone calls pending. Try and do the same with e-mail – check e-mail on a set schedule; checking every 5-minutes is only a distraction that takes away from other important work.
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Organize your workspace. Is your desk cluttered with paper and important pending items? Well if you’ve not gotten to those important pending items for several weeks then they probably were not that important. File them away, and if you use Outlook or another “all-in-one” type application – set reminders for yourself to get specific tasks done. You eliminate the clutter on your desk and still have reminders to get things done. All that paper – get rid of it. Use file folders to organize what’s on your desk. Keep only the “tools of the trade” close and accessible. Yes, the coffee mug can stay.
Take a break – work less – work smarter, not harder. These all go together. If you’re well rested, you’re better prepared to take on the challenges you have for the day/week/month/year – if you contstantly work 15 hour days, take no time off to rest, no vacation you harm yourself. In the short-term you may get a lot of work done – but in the long-term you jepordize how well you get that work done. You may force yourself, but in the end your body will give up and you’ll be in the red instead. Taking breaks is also a must. You should get up from your desk every 30-60 minutes and get the blood flowing! Take a short walk and grab a tea/coffee/water – or just take a short walk, say “Hi” to your team. As a manager, you’re faced with pressure everyday. You are expected to perform well above what others in your department are doing, and the only way you will be able to sustain that performance is by taking breaks. Remember to take your vacation – it’s provided for a reason. Yes, there is never a good time to go – but you know what, it will never be a good time. That’s why you need to groom your team and senior members of the team to take on tasks that you perhaps perform that can be handed off, that pose a low risk to the company.
Stressed out? Don’t be! In order to be effective, you need to reduce your stress. Stress will not allow you to think clearly, it may cloud your judgement and it will prohibit you from doing good work. It can be difficult to overcome stress, but one of the best ways: exercise. There is an exellent story on ABC News about stress “Reduce Stress, Extend Your Life“.
If you’re looking to become more productive in 2010 – a few simple changes will ensure you can.