With so many of our clients often sharing with us how they wish they had more time in the day to do the things they need and want to do, we thought it might be helpful to touch on the subject of productivity.
We all grapple with increasing our productivity, which we assume will make us better at what we do, and certainly saner. Yet, productivity’s greatest enemy is distraction — and it’s no secret that this is the age of distraction that we are living in. If it’s not a message on your phone, or the ping of an e-mail coming in, it’s trying to talk to someone who keeps peering down at the latest news on their phone.
Little over a decade ago, multi-tasking was lauded as the new way to work, however, a growing range of research is now informing us that being engaged with too much at once can severely impair our productivity and focus. We may think we’re super productive, but in reality, we are getting less done. This is because switching from one task to another and back again is a major disruption to our brains: each switch creates lost time, in which our brain needs to refocus on the new task.
Whether you are still working or even if you’ve reached retirement, it’s pretty likely that you still feel like you are juggling, with less time to do the things you really want to do and that ever present pile of papers on the back corner of your desk calling your name!
So how do we make the most of our days in the modern world? We believe that in order to feel in control, you need to take control. Here are some of our thoughts on how you can truly increase your productivity during your working day.
Start with your diary
Meetings are crucial in most industries; and are even a fact of life post retirement. Yet if you look at meetings as they appear on your weekly calendar, they probably resemble a handful of raisins strewn across the page…in other words, they are randomly scattered. One of the best ways you can feel more in control is to work on proactive scheduling.
Consider restructuring your week so that your time is divided into blocks: some for meetings, some for execution and some for planning. You might even want to consider relegating meetings to specific days of the week, say Monday through Thursday, or mornings only. This may seem like an uncomfortable switch at first, and there will be times when you can’t avoid making exceptions, but overall, the time and focus you will save are worth it.
Don’t forget the team
When we talk about increased productivity, we are not only talking about our own individual productivity, but the productivity of the team at large. A quick and regular check-in every morning if possible, or even once a week with your team – what we call “the huddle” – can help to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Don’t let the “dishes” pile up
For most of us, each day brings a certain number of “dirty dishes”, those small tasks which require little time and are easy to “leave in the sink” for the next morning. These could be a return call, an unanswered email, a thank you note to a client, or any number of other minute details of daily business life. Even if you are retired, you’ve probably got plenty of those personal “dirty dishes” calling your name: claims statements that need to be rectified, banking queries and the like.
If these things are left unattended to, they very well may become distractions – popping into your head during your leisure time or a client meeting. Be sure to schedule time in each day to polish these tasks off. This will allow you to start each morning with a “clean sink.”
The space to work on your business and your life
Whether you are an entrepreneur, in the corporate world or even enjoying your retirement, we all need time to think and plan. All too often, this critical thinking takes a back seat to everything else, as we navigate our way reactively through the day. Having the space to work on your business and your life is a key task that is crucial for strategic business growth and personal growth, but is almost impossible when you aren’t in control. Take this into account when you are drawing up your schedule, and give it the important time slot it deserves. You’ll be all the better for it.