“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.” Paul Meyer
Some time ago I read an article from the Huffington Post that stated 41% of tasks on to-do lists, never get completed. Seemed really high but went on to read that 50% of to-do items are completed within the first hour of being written down. At this point I was fascinated by how polar opposite those outcomes were. I mean where is the middle ground? This got me thinking how can I improve the structure of my day, and how can I keep improving productivity when it comes to the many areas of the SALT brand.
For me I start at figuring out where the problem lies and after a little research and a lot of thought there are several factors that I can see. One…There are so many distractions, we are 2 screen multi-taskers, we have social media, email, texting, streaming directly from our phones, Starbucks on demand, news push notifications, and the list goes on. I even read that we, humans, have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. We have gone from 12 second attention spans down to 8 seconds (and just in case you are wondering goldfish have 9). Most generations today grown up never having to wait for anything. Is this you? I know it is me and I am not a Millennial or a Generation Z’er. So how to navigate?
So in light of those facts, here a few tips on improving productivity that I have used from my days of working in the music industry to now managing the SALT Brand. (assuming I have kept your attention up to this point).
Steven Covey knew what he was talking about.
I know this is soooo Y2K but hear me out. Do you remember the “Time Management Matrix?” Steven makes a great point when it comes to his grid on important and not important. Look at this, where do you spend your time? You should be spending your time in quadrants 1 and 2. Quadrants 3 and 4 should be eliminated or schedule at certain points in your day. Now I do realize that eliminating all of the distractions is hard, but I have heard it said that it can take up to 20 minutes to re-focus on the current task after being interrupted by an email, phone call or other co-workers.
The 4 Ms
Monday Morning Meeting with Myself. This is something I have been doing for years and obviously it doesn’t have to be on Monday but I really like to do this at the beginning of the week (plus it makes the 4 Ms concept work). Also, and this is a BIG one. . . It can’t be longer than an hour. This is where I sit down with NO distractions and look at what I did last week and what needs to happen this week. Typically, I start with the prior week by analyzing what I accomplish last week, reviewing my notes from conversations or meetings. Then I move on to what needs to be done this week and begin a process of scheduling my week or for some it is adding to a task list.Studies show,it can take up to 20 minutes to re-focus on a current task after being interrupted by an email, phone call or other co-workers Click To Tweet
The Task List
So there are several schools of thought on this. I have heard some say batch task, others say start with the hardest task first, and still others will say just get rid of the task list, completely. Honestly I would be in trouble if I didn’t have some checklist. Whatever way you prioritize just make sure you aren’t spending more time managing the system than being productive, remember we are trying to “improve productivity” not slow it down. For me, I am involved with many aspects of SALT, from the conference to our SALTCommunity.com website. I have found that by highlighting 5 things that need to get done that day works well for me. This equates to about 90 minutes of focused time per task, on average.Make sure you aren't spending more time managing the system than being productive Click To Tweet
Block out specific times for communication tasks.
This would include emails, texts, phone calls etc. Anything that is a reactive type task. This goes back to my illustration with the quadrants above. Remember just because someone contacts you doesn’t mean you are obliged to drop everything and respond (talk about a hinderance on improving productivity for the day). However, I don’t like going more than a few hours responding to anyone so I typically block time first thing in the morning, before lunch, after lunch and at the end of the day to take care of these tasks. Also, these tasks are not on my task list because it would take more to time to “create” the task than just doing it.
Spend a few minutes preparing for the next day.
I will be honest this is the hardest for me. At the end of the day, I typically start getting phone calls from my kids wondering what we are “having for dinner” (because for whatever reason they want dinner every night) and I find myself rushing to get home. However, I will say when I do prepare for the next day by looking over the list of “to-dos” I typically have a better start to the next day.Spend a few minutes, at the end of the day, preparing for the next day Click To Tweet
I hope this has helped a little. Also, if you have any insight on how you go about improving productivity in your day I would love to hear it so please share away.