Productivity: for many, it is the ultimate goal in the workplace – to not only do a task well in a set time, but to do multiple tasks equally well in the same timeframe. As this is such a popular goal, many experts and consultants have devised strategies meant to boost an employee’s productivity. For this week’s tip, we’ll review a few of these strategies so you can give them a try.
Educator and businessman Steven Covey devised a strategy to help one live a fulfilling life that easily translates to the workplace. Your available time is represented by a bucket, your crucial, mission-critical goals and responsibilities by large stones, your less-impactful responsibilities by smaller stones, and unimportant, menial tasks are symbolized by sand.
If you were to use these objects to fill the bucket, the way you order your priorities will impact how much can be accomplished. If you put the sand in first, followed by the smaller stones, you leave little room for the large rocks. However, if you start with the bigger rocks, you can make the biggest impact. Transferring over the metaphor, by focusing on your biggest responsibilities first, you can fit the most into your workday. Anything left over isn’t that important, anyways.
Also known as the Blastoff Method, motivational speaker and entrepreneur Mel Robbins came up with this method to help keep those tasks that, frankly, we just don’t want to do from holding us up. According to Robbins, hesitation puts the brain into protection mode and resultantly ‘decides’ to avoid the task. However, by taking control and overcoming that hesitation, you improve your overall well-being (or in our case, your productivity).
To counter this, Robbins recommends that you bridge the gap between your thoughts and your capabilities quickly and decisively. One way to do so is by literally counting down your actions—5,4,3,2,1—and then acting before you get the chance to think your way out of it.
In fancier terms, you’re interrupting a set habit loop and shifting your behavioral process. So, next time you’re avoiding a task, count down and dive in.
How long will each of your tasks take to complete? In the office, the length of time can vary wildly, but there are some trends that will become apparent after a few repetitions. For instance, you’ll know that Tasks A through E will take a longer time, while Tasks F through N might take mere moments each. So, why not take advantage of these differences to accomplish more throughout your day?
David Allen, a productivity consultant, came up with an approach to productivity that does just that. At first glance, it seems deceptively simple: if a task will take fewer than two minutes to complete, just do it. That is an oversimplification of the actual approach. While the idea of doing the quick stuff first is present, you should use these tasks as a means of growing your motivation to tackle the big tasks.
This is possible because all your responsibilities, big or small, will start with a small, two-minute action… and once you get invested in a responsibility, it is much easier to continue carrying it out.
The concept of a Two-Hour Solution, attributed to Train Your Brain for Success author Roger Seip, tackles productivity more proactively. The theory is that, by taking two hours each week to evaluate how things have worked out for you during the previous week, reconnecting with your goals and giving yourself a schedule to follow throughout the coming week, you can optimize the time you spend on your tasks.
This may all sound typical to some people, because we haven’t gone over the key difference that sets the Two-Hour Solution apart--you’re really dividing the time that you’re spending each week by how it contributes to your goals. “Green time” is time that generates financial capital, and “red time” is the time spent preparing for the productivity of your green time. “Flex time” is the leeway that you give yourself to account for unplanned circumstances, and “re-creation time” is the time you take to “recreate” yourself through recreational activities.
Another tenet is provided by Roger Seip and supported by every person who claims that they work better with a deadline. Basically, as you are scheduling your tasks, give yourself a little less time than you expect to need to complete each responsibility. The deadline helps to keep you focused, assuming you ignore the safety net of your flex time.
Have you tried any of these methods before? How well did they work? Let us know in the comments, and for the IT solutions to help you make the most of your time spent, give Out of the Box Solutions a call at 800-750-4OBS (4627).