How I Stay Productive
After some self-reflection on my habits and what I do to stay productive, I’ve realized there a few things that I do consistently to make sure I crush it in the office. I dived into the few that I believe are most important to my workplace sanity and productivity below, and make sure to let me know your secrets as well!
Own Your Calendar
I used to have my calendar pretty much open for people to book time with me. Most of the companies I’ve worked for have had distributed teams and international clients — for example at Kyriba we were based in NYC, the executive team was based in California, the VP of Product was in Texas, the original (and most knowledgeable) team was in Paris, and the bulk of the developers were in Eastern Europe. Our clients were based all over the world, as well as the banks and vendors we integrated with. I was overwhelmed when my calendar was open and flexible. I learned I needed to set boundaries for when colleagues and clients could book time with me, and block extra time for my own work. When looking at your calendar, remember to always plan ahead and understand when meetings can happen and make sure to block off enough time to get your actual work done.
Turn Notifications Off
I always try to take some “me time” to focus on the task at hand. I’ve made sure to turn off notifications to group chats, social networks, and other apps at certain times during the day so I can actually have some time without being distracted by people outside the workplace. The worst thing possible is to lose an idea or delay a project because someone is sending you a picture of their cat.
Change Your Meeting Habits
At VentureOut we had too many meetings. We also had too many long meetings. We also had too many long meetings that started late. Start your meetings on time, be deliberate in their focus, and manage them towards outcomes. Write everything down and never leave without clear action items and objectives. Don’t let normal meetings turn into “working meetings” because they often end up wasting time as opposed to being purposefully collaborative. There is a big difference between a working meeting and a scrum or sprint.
Done Before Perfect
Everyone has heard the phrase “done is better than perfect” but I’ve found myself to be more productive following “done before perfect”. By this I mean get the work you are doing to final draft status and either take a break or work on something else before taking the second look or walkthrough. Sometimes giving yourself a whole day is best. By taking a break and clearing your head you’ll ultimately find the mistakes you’ve made and parts of the project that need to be fixed faster while being more productive in the long run.
Delegate, Teach and Repeat
I’ve fallen into the situation where I’ve delegated tasks and projects only to have them come back with so many errors that I’ve not only needed to spend a ton of time redoing the work, but also lost trust in delegating the work in the first place. Don’t ever feel like if you need something done, you need to do it yourself. Delegate the work with as much instruction as possible, and coach your colleague or employee through the process. In the long run, you’ll have much more independent (and satisfied) employees. This brings me to my next point
Everything you and your company does that is ultimately going to be collaborative, handed off, or hired into should have a handbook with instructions. During projects, document the mistakes made and steps missed so that you are continuously building more comprehensive instructions and guides. This makes it easier for you to delegate, but also empowers others to find answers to their own questions and solve their own problems.
Ask for Assistance When Needed
Don’t be “that guy”. In this case, there are two of them. First, the person that asks questions on how to do everything without ever trying to find the solution in the first place. That guy is the worst. But also don’t be the guy that never asks for help, it only results in wasted time and projects chock full of errors. Chances are other coworkers will have the same questions, either for the project you are on or for future projects. Again, document everything so that other employees will be able to solve these problems on their own in the future.
I make sure to find time in the day to listen to some music I like, either while on a break or while working. Some music I like to work to and some is for pure enjoyment. I also have playlists to get me amped for a project, meeting or scrum session.
Find Your Hype Man
In hip-hop, the hype man supports the main artist and gets the crowd pumped. It’s important to find your “productivity” hype man. For me, this is either a song that gets me amped, a movie scene (shout out to Ben Affleck in Boiler Room), or a speaker that gets me pumped like Gary V. It is important to have some external sources of motivation handy when you need it.
Don’t Neglect Your Development
We all get sucked into work. We work for ourselves, our team, our managers, and our company. BUT it is important not to forget about pushing yourself and building your skill set. If you work in sales, work on understanding digital marketing a little bit better. Find a podcast to play while at work. Build something on your downtime. Do something to make sure you are getting better every week.
Use The Tools You Were Given For Success
There is a reason why you have Asana, Trello, Hootsuite, Slack, Dropbox, and other tools at your disposal. Make sure you (and your team) are using them to your advantage.
And last but not least…
Sitting in the same spot all day and grinding away might make you feel like you are being productive but take time away from the desk. Walk around the office, get a coffee, stroll through the park, or do basically anything other than work for a period of time. This will give your brain a chance to recharge and you’ll end up more productive because of it. It seems simple, but I can’t stress how important this is.
So these are the most important things I’ve been doing to make my days productive in the workplace. Anything you agree with or disagree with? I’d love your thoughts and make sure to give me your productivity tips and hacks in the comments below!
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