Productivity, what does it mean to you?
“I would be able get everything, or mostly everything done.” The key words are “everything” and “mostly”. Is either getting everything or mostly everything realistic on a consistent basis? If not, reassess what is on your to do list, if there is too much and then determine what needs to get done, by whom and when. Consider what would happen if someone else did it or it didn’t get done at all. Productivity is best described by getting the important things done in a timely and accurate manner.
“I would get things done more quickly.” If your goal is to get things done faster I have to wonder what will you do with all of that time that you “saved”? The goal of effective time management is to have balance in your life by making intentional choices about how to use your time. The goal is NOT to add more to your to do list and fill every waking minute with business. Productivity isn’t about being busy all of the time rather, it’s about the quality of the time you spend doing what is important.
“I would meet all of my deadlines.” Have you noticed that not all tasks have deadlines and that those are often the things that don’t get done? Deadlines are helpful with planning and accountability, 2 critical time management skills. If something is important and you want to get it done assign a deadline and schedule blocks of time to work on it. Honor appointments with yourself. Conversely, not every deadline is written in stone. If that is the case you can reprioritize and stretch the deadline a bit, right? Increasing productivity means finding legitimate ways to accomplish what you need, want and must do.
“I would have less to do.” Less to do is wonderful. Unscheduled time is another time management skill. Unexpected situations will occur from time to time and having unscheduled time helps to keep you on track. Sometimes we have something to do but lack the energy or motivation to do it when we thought we would. Unscheduled time can be a spot when creativity strikes. Unscheduled blocks of time, even short periods of time, can be rejuvenating. What would you do with 15 “extra” minutes today? Productivity speaks to quality as well as (or more than) quantity.
“I would feel more in control.” My new favorite quote is from Krista Tippett in “Becoming Wise an Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living: “We are never really running the show, never really in control, and nothing will go quite as we imagined it.” Productivity includes responding to new information, changing requirements, and unexpected circumstances. Practice how to respond rather than react to situations. Rather than setting the expectation of feeling in control all of the time let go and accept.
“I would feel less stressed.” I’m all for that! You can enhance your productivity by:
- Getting adequate sleep (7-8 hours) on a nightly basis.
- Taking breaks to stretch, breathe, go for a walk, have a glass of water or cup of tea, etc.
- Eating healthfully.
- Exercising regularly.
Scheduling daily time for self care is critical. Remember that working longer hours doesn’t necessarily increase your productivity.
“I’d have less…emails, paperwork, things on my to do list…” Systems are important for ensuring productivity. You can reduce emails by unsubscribing to newsletters and online retailers that you don’t find useful. You can take email breaks and read through your inbox to prioritize which items require action. Paperwork management requires an effective filing system for action items versus reference items. Avoid piles of papers, review and determine if it’s for later reference or immediate action. Avoid printing emails and articles that can be saved in folders instead. You can limit the number of tasks on your to do list or eliminate a list by scheduling time to do the to do’s.
“I would feel less rushed.” If you don’t feel productive because you are always rushing from 1 thing to another, stop! Take a step back and build in extra time to transition from 1 task or activity to another. The “one more thing” syndrome can make you late and hamper not only your productivity, but your credibility too. Plan to get places early and have a few extra minutes to breathe.
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