I’ve not disciplined myself to set aside a time each day like this but it’s something I’m going to try. Here’s how I stay productive… and some of it may sound very bizarre but it helps me to manage the seemingly unmanageable workday. It’s interesting that some of my tips and methods overlap with Dawud’s!
In the past, I believe I’ve read that the average American worker actually produces about 5 hours of work a day although they work greater than 8. Here’s how to double that 5 hours and get 10 hours of productivity in an 8 hour day.
Stop answering your phone:
I do not answer my phone nor my cell phone unless I’m ready to. My friends and colleagues are used to this and some give me a really hard time about it. Some people think that it’s rude. I don’t. Turning your phone or cell phone to voicemail is the equivalent of closing your office door to get work done. I truly believe that productivity is based on momentum… lose momentum and you’re less productive. For those of you out there that program, this is especially true. I can get a week’s worth of programming done in a single day if I’m uninterrupted. Many times, I program all night on projects because it allows me to absolutely ‘get in the zone’. Approximate savings: 1 hour daily.
Stop listening to Voicemail:
I do not listen to voicemail. What the heck?! You just said that you don’t answer the phone and now you don’t listen to voicemail?! Nope. I check my voicemail and as soon as I hear who it is, I immediately delete the message and call them back. I’ve found that 99% of the time, I have to call the person back, so why listen to the entire voicemail? Some people leave messages a minute long! If you leave me a voicemail, leave your name and number and your urgency. I’ll call you back as soon as I have the opportunity. I get a lot of ribbing about this, too. Approximate savings: 30 minutes daily.
DWT – Drive While Talking:
I call people when I’m driving. I have about 1 hour a day of commuter time and it’s the best time I have to speak to people. I’ve never even come close to getting in an accident so I don’t want to hear all this crap about driving while talking being a problem. I’m able to absolutely concentrate on both. If traffic gets terrible, I’ll simply excuse myself and call the person back. Approximate savings: 1 hour daily.
I decline meeting invitations. Alright, you say, now he’s out of his mind! I find the majority of meetings are a waste of time. You’ll find me hard-pressed to accept meeting invitations that have no itinerary or action plan. If there’s not a goal to the meeting, I probably won’t show up. It irritates some of my co-workers, but I don’t worry about it. My time is very valuable to me and my company. If you can’t respect that, then it’s not my problem – it’s yours. Learn how to manage peoples’ time effectively! (I also answer email on my PDA during meetings when my attention isn’t needed.) Approximate savings: 2 hours daily.
Write and Share Action Plans:
This one is probably not that bizarre. It’s an actual must to staying productive, though. I write down action plans that contain Who, What and When and, most importantly, share it with the person or team that I am working with.
Who – Who is going to get it to me, or who am I going to get it to?
What – What is it that is getting delivered? Be specific!
When – When is it going to be delivered? A date and even a time will drive you to meet your timeline.
Approximate Savings: 30 minutes daily.
WFS: Working From Starbucks
One additional tip that may or may not work for you: I work from Starbucks. On mornings where I don’t have meetings, client calls, or work with my teams, I often just drive over to Starbucks and knock out the task at hand. Starbucks is bustling with people and creates an environment of controlled chaos that I love. I work hard and fast at Starbucks. The uncomfortable chairs help, too. If I can’t get out of there quickly, I’ll regret it with a sore underside. Approximate savings: 4 hours weekly.