3 Ways To Be More Productive At Work

Activity Doesn’t Equal Productivity

Have you ever walked by an employee who was busily shuffling papers and moving items on their desk? They manage to look as though they have a million things going on yet are the most unprepared at meetings and often miss deadlines.  As a manager, you do not have the luxury of just “looking busy” – you ARE busy.  As a great manager, you must know how to manage your time, so you meet deadlines and accomplish tasks.  How do you do it?

As a manager, it’s all about speed and efficiency.  The faster you can successfully complete your day to day tasks, the faster you can get to the projects that truly require your time and attention.  Undivided attention is a premium in the world of management but is required for successful projects.  In the world of business, multitasking is not productive.  So, here are 3 ways to be more productive at work, so you can focus on what really matters:

Turn Off Your Notifications

Hey you…  Yeah you.  Stop staring at your phone.  As a leader there is nothing worse than always looking at your phone.  If you’re connecting with your phone, you are not connecting with your team.  Your projects will also suffer from the lack of attention.  A simple glance to check the latest notification will take you off track when working on a project, and you will have to waste valuable time getting back on track.

Avoid Email

There is no one thing that sucks up more of your time out of your work day than email.  There is no need to check your email so often.  Once mid-morning and once at the end of the day is more than enough.  If something is truly that important, it deserves a phone call.  In most cases a 2-minute phone call can save countless minutes of back and forth emails.

Create Check Lists

Create daily and/or weekly check lists, not to-do lists.  This will save you and your team time and help to avoid errors.  It will also free your mind from the pressure of remembering mundane tasks, so you can focus your attention on the important business you have to complete. Simply check the boxes as you go, and you will know it was completed right the first time.  It will happen you don’t complete everything on your list.  Move it to the top of the next day’s list and commit to completing it.  More often than not, an incomplete check list is due to poor planning or unrealistic prioritizing.  Find a system that works for you and stick to it.  It will save time and stress.

It’s all about maximizing your time.  Can you use your commute to check the news, read the latest article, or even check your email so you don’t have to take time away from your work day?  Take a closer look at your day and you’ll realize there are plenty of ways to re-gain time.  For example, do your daily meetings really need to be an hour long, or can you cut it down to 30 minutes by staying on point.  So, turn off your notifications, avoid your email, create check lists, stop reading this, and get back to work. Break time is over!

3 Simple Ways To Improve Your Team’s Productivity

As a manager, continually find ways to improve your team’s productivity.  Let’s start with three quick and inexpensive options:

Let the Music Play

Your employees likely spend much of their time in front of a computer in the course of an 8+ hour day.  Tasks which are redundant, especially in front of a screen, cause boredom and a loss of focus.  Studies have shown that music makes repetitive tasks, which require little concentration, more tolerable.  This helps the day go faster and work seems less like a four-letter word.  Implement music in your work place and you will see a happier, more productive team.  Projects will be completed in a more timely fashion, resulting in reduced overtime and overall savings.  This works in a variety of scenarios so be brave and turn the music up!

What Should You Play?

Music allows an escape from the mundane, while masking a noisy work place – as in a factory.  In an office environment, music can serve as ambient noise.  Keep in mind that lyrics can add distraction at the office, so consider instrumental or classical music.  This will allow your team to stay focused, while being more productive.

Let the Sun Shine In

Lighting plays a major role in your team’s physical and mental well-being, and it has been proven people feel better under specific lighting.  Therefore, there is a connection between light and productivity, and cooler light will make your team more productive.  Natural light is the best and will improve one’s overall mood and energy.

If you are lucky enough to scout out your office space, always opt for more windows, especially where a majority of work will be done.  The more windows the better.  Even if there is a higher cost, you will make it up in the increase in productivity.  If you are in an existing location, consider blue enriched light bulbs.  They increase performance while reducing fatigue, both contributing to a healthy bottom line.

Make it Pleasant to Breathe In

All senses affect memory; however, the sense of smell is the strongest.  It is even stronger than sight.  We associate smell with locations and even people and can instantly be taken back in time.  Ever smell a freshly baked apple pie and you are transported to Grandma’s kitchen on Thanksgiving?  Your mood is also affected by your sense of smell.   Ever wonder why realtors bring cookies to a showing?  Yep, to get you in the mood to make a deal.  The aroma of coffee has the ability to reduce your perception of time, causing you to browse a little longer.  Even baby powder can prolong your perception.

Some scents can make you more alert, and therefore, more productive.  Studies have shown that diffusing lemon oil into an office can increase productivity by over 50%.  Before you start filling your office with eucalyptus and ginger, check with your team for any allergies or aversions.  Then find something that works and implement it.

In Closing…

Keep your team happy and productive with an office that is filled with good music, great lighting, and pleasant scents, and watch their productivity rise.  You will also notice a decrease in turnover due to the rise in their happiness.  And it may not be a bad idea to bake some cookies, too!

Productivity Secrets

You are busy….  you have a full schedule with conference calls, deadlines, and meetings.  This makes being productive difficult as you seem to be doing things for everyone else instead of focusing on your own agenda.  I get it.  As a manager, you will be pulled in every direction, but it is important to know that busy and productive are not necessarily synonymous.  Activity doesn’t always equal productivity.  Let’s talk about ways to help you be more productive.

Be Organized

Get and stay organized; it is the key to your success.  Prepare for your meetings.  Know what you need to accomplish and knock it out.  Be as efficient as possible, and do not waste time.  Clear your schedule from distractions, and make sure that you are able to give your full attention to the things that are important.  If you get it done right the first time, then you do not have to waste your time reviewing it over and over.  Touch it once and move on.  You will feel a great sense of accomplishment as you complete projects, and organization is key.

The Only Place Execute Comes Before Plan is in the Dictionary

Take the time to plan before you execute.  Creating a plan saves you time, it doesn’t add to it.  Create a task list, putting your most important tasks at the top, in order of how quickly they can be accomplished.  A task that must be done that day, whether five minutes or two hours, should be at the top.  Do not keep pushing your least desirable tasks to the bottom.  Remember the old adage about eating an elephant: one bite at a time.  This will put you in motion and give you that sense of accomplishment.

Time is of the Essence

Respect the time of others, and never be late.  If you have an 8am meeting, be there at 7:45am, fully prepared.  This ensures you are ready to go on time and shows you value the time of others.  Make sure you take detailed notes and follow up on every point. Should you be running late, let the key participants know as early as possible so they can adjust their schedule as necessary.  We all run into a snag in scheduling, the important thing is to communicate. And speaking of communication…

It’s Key!

As a manager, communication is key.  How quickly you respond to calls and emails might be the difference between landing an account or watching your competitor get it. Take phone calls and deal with the issue then and there.  If you are in a meeting or unable to, return missed calls as quickly as possible.  A good rule is to return all calls and emails within 24 hours.  Even if you don’t have the answers yet, let the other person know you received their inquiry.  No one wants to wait around and wonder if you even got the message.  Create folders to keep your inbox organized and set your preferences to automatically filter incoming emails.  This will help you to immediately find correspondence for any given project.  Plus, a clean inbox can make you feel more productive, and allows you to focus on the task at hand.

Learn to Prioritize

There is only so much time in the day and only so many things that you can accomplish. Don’t feel like you have to go above and beyond on every project.  Simply completing your project, and staying on schedule, is enough in most cases.

Putting out daily fires is definitely a top priority, but you still need to complete your day-to-day tasks.  Stick to your schedule as best you can by developing a routine. This will allow you to stay productive and give you the opportunity to be creative.

Make use of the tools at hand, sometimes quite literally “at hand”.  Use your computer or smartphone to set appointments, reminders, and lists.  Tackle tasks in the moment whenever possible, thereby eliminating the need to continue thinking about them.

Lastly, take advantage of down time at the office, or your time on the road.  Uninterrupted time is priceless in management, and you should take advantage of it.  Do not be afraid to focus on yourself during this time.  Stretch out, listen to music, call your mother…  it is not against the rules to do things for yourself.  Simply taking a few deep breaths and releasing them clears your mind and prepares you for what is ahead.  And it’s no secret that being prepared is the key to productivity.