For many of us, the pace and volume at work skyrocket in September. It can be a rude awakening after a somewhat relaxed August, and the consequences of not being completely on top of your game can be intense. My most recent post offered 3 Tips to Boost Your Productivity at Work, and this post outlines 3 more great ones. Grab one and run with it!
1. You have less time than you think you do and the items on your to-do list all take longer than you expect them to. I’m sorry, but it’s true. The good news is: you’re in charge of how you spend your time. You don’t HAVE TO wordsmith that email into perfection. You don’t HAVE TO read every email you’re cc’d on. (You might even consider getting yourself removed from some of those long cc lists – think about it.)
Keep in mind the YES-NO Rule: by saying YES to spending time on any activity, you are effectively saying NO to something else, since you don’t have infinitely expandable time. Just be sure you know what you’re saying no to when you say yes. Tightening up your time budget can do wonders for your output. Try it. You might like it.
2. Reduce your spinning time! Notice when/how you spin your wheels and accomplish nothing. Does this happen when you should be working on a daunting task? Do you spin when there’s a decision to be made? Do you spin while waiting for other people to return your call, answer your question, give you their part of the project, etc? Really take a close look at your spinning pattern. Once you know what it is, you can address it.
I tend to spin at times I have allocated to low-level, money-related tasks that have some anxiety charge to them, like doing my bookkeeping (always charged for me, even after 20 years of working for myself), calling customer service to work out a billing discrepancy, running my clients’ monthly credit card charges. I’ve tried out having an assistant do these tasks but the tasks seem to always require a judgment call that I need to make, so it’s most efficient for me to do them. Once I saw my pattern I’ve been able to reduce my spin time – as soon as I catch myself spinning, I tell myself, “Don’t spin, get it done!” It sounds simplistic, but really, it works. Check it out.
3. Become a better delegator. Being a great delegator involves many skills, every one of which is learnable. Are you regularly disappointed by the job your team members deliver? You may need to upgrade your follow-up skills. Do your direct reports drive you crazy with their questions? You may want to support your team to be more powerful and able to figure it out on their own. Picking up even one new skill or refining an old one can make you a more effective delegator. So find a book, take a self-study course, work with a coach – and become more effective in this key arena.
One of the responses I often hear from clients when I raise this subject is, “There’s really no one I can delegate this to — everyone at work is swamped and buried.” If that’s true for you, , consider what you can delegate on the home front. What’s on your home list that is nothing but an obligation? THAT’s a prime target for delegating (or ditching). Getting help on the domestic front can free up some time for you to re-charge your batteries. Farming out the yard work, the laundry, the food-shopping, etc can provide a huge boost to your all-around productivity by giving you a break. Or letting you get something else done in its place. It doesn’t have to be a forever commitment. But in a crunch month it can be a huge boost to have someone else do even ONE THING that you would otherwise do yourself. The “someone else” could be the supermarket that provides the already-cut-up fruit for the soccer team’s snack, or the prepared food for your mid-week dinner.
Do you have a productivity tip to share? Please leave a comment here.