It’s not easy staying productive in the summer, between vacations, holidays and the heat. However, if we shift our attitudes just a bit and seek uncomplicated ways to be productive, it becomes a bit more manageable. Following are a few tips – some are mine; some are borrowed from Chris Bailey, author of several productivity books and the host of a helpful website, A Life of Productivity.
- Rule of Three – Bailey talks about starting each day with the question, “By the time today is done, what three main things do I want to accomplish?” It sounds simple, but Bailey says he has personally determined that it is an effective way to identify what’s important and what’s not. If we are not being very productive anyway, what do we have to lose?
- Schedule Your Time – Did you know that every time we’re interrupted, we lose up to 25 minutes of productivity? That’s another nifty fact that I learned from Chris Bailey. The solution is scheduling. When you set aside time for specific purposes, you’re more effective in using it. Schedule discussions with employees and clients about important issues. Some people find it helpful to schedule time with themselves, as well. Try to schedule time to check phone and email messages so it doesn’t take time away from more important tasks.
- Get with the Program (literally): Use apps to make you more productive. Not only are they helpful in the office; because most work on mobile devices, they can also help you stay on track when you are out of the workplace. Bailey shares some on his site; I found another great resource that you can review by clicking here.
- Follow the rule of 1-2-3: The site I shared above has an app that helps you follow this approach, but you don’t need one to achieve its goals. The idea is this: Every day, write down one big item, three medium-sized items, and five smaller items to get done that day. Even if all you accomplish is the one big task, you have completed a major hurdle. If you cannot tackle it, knowing you completed multiple tasks will be rewarding, as well. And, since the quantity of tasks increases in proportion to the decrease in task size and/or complexity, each grouping offers an equivalent amount of satisfaction.
- Working Longer Isn’t Working Better – Working more hours doesn’t necessarily increase productivity. While doing research for his book, Bailey worked 90 hours one week and 20 hours the next. He reported feeling more productive during the longer work week, but actually only accomplished a little more than during the shorter week. Why? Because he extended his work to fit how much time he had. Think strategically about what you need to do and then expend your energy doing it. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you achieve, quickly.