I will be the first one to admit that I am mighty talented when it comes to finding ways to procrastinate or frivolously waste time on a daily basis. You’d think it was an Olympic sport.
So, past the half way mark of 2015, I am finally getting around to my awfully neglected New Year’s resolution of increasing my productivity, sadly ironic… Still, better late than never.
So, here is my to-do list to achieve this lofty goal:
1. Early birds do get the worm: There are certainly some perks in getting to work early if you are able to drag yourself out the bed. You get an undisrupted period of time when your mind is still relatively fresh to set your goals for the day. As soon as your co-workers file into the office, all bets are off in terms of email interruptions, urgent meeting requests and social interactions (yes, I am a proud misanthrope who despise unnecessary gossip like a vegan confronted with a big Mac).
2. Learn to say “no”: I do have a soft spot for people who ask nicely, so I have had my arm twisted into doing things by the likes of “pleeezeeeee”, “I have a huge favor to ask you, could you kindly”…An assortment of ego-boosting, zero-calorie pleads. It’s your time and you are not going to get it back, so value it accordingly. Don’t agree to commitments because it gave you the warm fuzzies when you said yes.
3. Prioritize, prioritize, then prioritize some more: I know I have a tendency to do the simple tasks first, an easy sense of accomplishment, but do they really matter in terms of overall productivity? Probably not. Have a workable system of valuing the relevance, time constraint, resource commitments and productivity impact of each task; then prioritize them accordingly. So, it might mean you will end up having to bite the bullet and tackle the least favorite task first, but be ready to bask in the glory when you accomplish the task, or at least pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
4. Cut ties with social media: Believe me, your presence on Facebook, Twitter, whatever the new sites are these days, is not all that vital to the continuation of the human race, your friends can do without the constant check-ins, witty commentaries and the all-important “likes”.
5. Social butterfly vs. the hermit crab: Speaking from someone who is not terribly fond of social interactions, a nice balance would be between the two extremes of the social spectrum. You don’t have to be the company social event planner, unless that is your job title, if that is the case then go to town with that. For the rest of us, we are here for a different purpose, social interaction can be the grease that makes our professional lives smooth, however, too much of it can be distracting and pointless. Limit yourself to a few preferred events and never feel obliged to attend events that you dread like a visit to the dentist.
6. Learning to ask for help: I am again guilty of unable to do this, I will spend insane amount of time Googling the living daylight out of a problem I have before grudgingly sending an email to a colleague to ask for help on coding problems. It’s counterproductive and maddening. So, learn from my poor example, the internet can help you, but most likely the problem you are encountering at work has already reared its ugly head before and your colleagues know how to whack it on the head efficiently, thus saving you time and needless headaches.
7. Oh…look a squirrel…: Focus! While some people might extol the virtues of multi-tasking, it really means scattered attention and effort. You will most likely make careless mistakes and end up having to spent more time later trying to debug and fix the problems. When I want to focus on one task, I put on my oversized headphone, and it acts as a surprisingly effective people-deterrent, even if I am not actually playing any music.
8. Routines, boring old routines: It has been estimated that the average woman spends 90 minutes a week on deciding what to wear to work, WHAT? Have a routine before you drift off to snoozeland, either mentally pick out what you are going to wear and take to the office, or get out of the bed and lay that stuff out for the next day. Save yourself time in the morning.
9. Be realistic when you estimate: This is one of my pet peeves, when people blindly underestimate the time and resources required for certain tasks and overinflate their abilities to complete the task on time. For example, Google map say it takes 17 minutes to get from A to B, it does not mean you will be there in 17 minutes, you need to get yourself ready, get out of the door, get into the car, be prepared for unexpected traffic delays, find parking at your destination, get out of the car, get into B, it’s only at the last point when your task is complete. It will never be 17 minutes on the dot. Be realistic. When you make unrealistic estimation, you are not only wasting your own time, you are also wasting other people’s time and costing them their productivity.
10. There is no #10: In the interest of productivity, what is not necessary has been cut.
I will strive to do as I preach, check back with me in 2016 to see how my 2015 New Year’s resolution went!