I hate wasting time. But to be honest, we all waste a lot of time. Usually, it’s out of our control. I’m sure many of you reading this hate meetings for this reason. If it’s an hour long, I’d bet about 10 minutes of it was productive. Then, there is the meeting to talk about the meeting. I could go on. Luckily, I’m my own boss now and only attend the ones I want to. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love finding ways to be more productive. Here are six ways to increase productivity:
1. I stopped commuting. To me, it makes no sense to spend time sitting in rush hour traffic, twice, to sit in front of a computer at work all day. Obviously, this pertains to me working at a public relations firm. When I was a TV reporter, commuting was essential. That’s not a job that can be done from home. But many jobs can be done from home in front of a computer. When I didn’t spend time getting presentable for public and commuting to work, I gained an additional 2-3 hours a day. That’s huge! There’s lots of potential productivity in those hours.
2. I have a to-do list. And it is detailed. I get really excited about organization, so I actually have two to-do lists – one in general with no deadlines, and one more immediate with deadlines. I make sure it’s ready to go before I start working, so when I’m ready to begin no time is wasted. (Yes, that means you have to work a little bit on Sunday night, but it’s so worth it Monday morning!)
3. I eliminate distractions. I used to leave all the tabs on my computer open. When I would see an email flashing in one, I would stop what I was doing, open that email, and deal with it. It may have taken two minutes of my time or 20 minutes. Then, I would go back to what I was originally doing. This is so inefficient and a great way to get off track. Instead, I give myself a task to do – with those tabs closed and my phone face down. I don’t want to see it light up with a notification! Unless it’s a life saving emergency, which I’m sure it’s not, it can wait.
4. I work when it works. For some reason, I’m more productive at night. Some people are great in the morning. I’m good in the morning, but great at night. Around 3pm-7pm, I just can’t function when it comes to work. I don’t know what it is, but it’s me! If I try, it’s a waste of time, so I work when it’s best for me. (Another one of my “corporate America” pet peeves: Not everyone needs 40 hours a week to do their job and not everyone needs to do it between the hours of 9am-5pm. If that were the case, what a coincidence that would be!)
5. I schedule everything. Like, ev-er-y-thing. And I set reminders. This helps me plan out my day, week, and month. If you know what is happening, you will be more productive because you have a plan to follow. Use working out for example: If you say, “I’m going to the gym this week” you probably won’t go or you’ll put if off. If you say, “I’m going to the gym Tuesday morning at 9:30” you will probably go because it is a scheduled plan.
6. I get to the point. I don’t want someone to take up my time by sugar coating and beating around the bush… and I’m impatient. I’d much rather prefer someone just get to the point, so that’s what I do. It’s also a great way to get rid of any confusion!
Finally, since I brought it up, my advice on getting out of a meeting: Take that list of things to do and devote the meeting time to getting it done. Tell your boss and ask someone to brief you on what was discussed. That = productivity!