Everyone I talk to these days is too busy at work – never enough time for everything that needs to be done. But, we all know there are many time-wasting land mines we face every day. If we can make progress with even a few of these, we could significantly increase productivity at work:
Too Many Meetings
Many meetings are critical to getting things done, moving projects forward or even sharing information. Sometimes however, meetings take on a life of their own. If there is nothing to share, cancel the meeting. If there is not an agenda, ask what will be addressed so you can determine if it is a good use of your time. If the meeting is scheduled for one hour, there is no obligation to fill the time. If you finish in a half hour, adjourn the meeting and enjoy the found time. Don’t go to meetings simply out of habit; ensure there is a reason to attend.
The Email Magnet
If you spend your time responding to every email as it comes in, you never have time to focus on what really needs to be done. Set specific times to check and respond to emails, maybe first thing in the morning, mid-day and late afternoon. Don’t check constantly or you lose your time to focus on more important work.
The Email Escape
Don’t send a string of emails back and forth trying to clarify an issue when a quick phone call or stopping by someone’s desk would resolve the problem more quickly and efficiently.
Control the Calendar
If you have a major project with a looming deadline, block some time on your calendar to ensure that you dedicate the time required to get it done. If you leave your calendar open it will fill up with other appointments that are often less critical and you end up taking your major project home to work on at night when you are tired after a long day. Identify your time of peak energy during the day and try to book your projects in that timeframe for maximum productivity.
Take a Break
When you are feeling swamped, it is often hard to rationalize taking a break but that may be exactly when you need it. Getting up and away from your desk may clear your thinking. Sometimes just a short fifteen-minute walk will get the thought process moving and creativity flowing.
Start with A not C
When people are busy there is a temptation to cross off a lot of C items on your list because they tend to be quicker and easier to day. At the end of the day however, you still have made no progress on your A priorities. It is important to find time every day to make progress on an A priority.