Wednesday, September 26, 2012

5 Ways to Boost Your Productivity

How can I get more done? That’s a question we have all asked ourselves at one time or another. Our days are packed with meetings, emails, projects, to-do lists, errands, etc. How often have you reached the end of the day and wondered “just exactly what did I accomplish today?” You do not need more time; what you need is to take control of your days. Your productivity will skyrocket when you take back control of your day.

What controls can I put in place you ask? Try these five:

1. Schedule your email. Do not leave your email window open at all times and un-click the option to play a sound when emails arrive. That little chime is like a siren’s song – calling you to come and see. And every time you react like a pavlovian dog your productivity drops. Check your email at scheduled times. Say four times a day, and not first thing in the morning. Remember – you need to control your time and if you check email first thing when you get up or when you get to the office you are immediately entering a reactionary mode. The email requests and updates now have your attention and end up dictating your agenda. Better to wait, formulate a plan for the day and prioritize your must do’s before charging into your email. I tell all my associates that email is for non-urgent communication. If something is urgent and I need to know or make a decision immediately then they better be ringing my phone and speaking directly to me.

2. Prioritize tasks. What are your must do’s today? What deadlines are approaching? Take a few moments at the beginning of your day to list out the tasks you need to work on today. Not want to work on. The want list is easy and pulls us in the wrong direction. Focus on the needs. Circle the top two or three and make that the focus of your time today. Completing the “need” to do items each and every day adds up. Instead of doing a little work on a lot of different things you will complete the really important tasks in their entirety. You will feel better and others will notice.

3. Schedule Power Blocks. Make sure to schedule uninterrupted blocks of time into your day. Two to three 45-90 minute blocks of time. Close your door, imagine your legs chained to your desk chair and really dig into your “need to do” items. One at a time. This one tip alone will push your productivity to a much higher level. Set a timer if you want and keep your head down and working for the full time. Chances are you will get more done in just one power block than the rest of your entire day. Don’t believe me? Try it for a few days; you will be glad you did.

4. Daily Contact List. Make a list each day of people to reach out to. Colleagues that you need to give information to. Business contacts that you want to stay in touch with (keep your network strong). Vendors, companies, or co-workers you need information from. Keep the list short and focused and then make it a point to make contact before you go home with each person on your list. Try to include at least one networking contact each day.

5. Take a break. That’s right. Take breaks during the day. Get up. Walk around. Get the blood flowing and the muscles working. Every 90 minutes at the most, get up from your desk and move. Even a short two to three minute break helps increase circulation to re-energize your body and your brain.

Productivity is all about taking control. You need to control your day and work in focused bursts of activity. By taking some time each morning to make a plan, and then working your plan, you will become more and more productive.

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