How many times have you sat down to do an important task, and before you knew it an hour had passed by and you hadn’t worked on what it was that you had wanted to do? What did you get done during that time?
Do any of these sound familiar?
- Email inbox got “near” zero (it’s never really empty)
- Social status updated (you made up something good)
- The to-do list was rearranged (not really complete anyway)
Too many leaders I know have become used to the following facts about working in an office environment:
- It’s challenging to stay focused on one task. They're being distracted by something else.
- They occasionally forget to follow up on a task/to do.
- They feel challenged to organize their tasks and projects.
- They put important/significant work off until “later” when there might be more time.
The days of multitasking are coming to an end. You don’t need another study, quote or how-to article to give you the steps you need to take to prioritize. You need to focus on the work. Those studies that do exist, they remind us that we need to work in sprints through the day. Here are two suggestions to get started:
First, plan to work in 45 to 60 minute sprints. I use a tool such as www.e.ggtimer.com and I set it for the amount of time that I want to focus. (I set it for 45 minutes for this article, start to finish.) Sometime today, pick one project that deserves a longer session of focus, set a timer and stay "in your zone."
Productivity experts suggest you do the important work early in the day; some even suggest you don’t check email first thing in the morning, that instead you put in one of these focused work-sessions. Try this planning technique just once per day for five continuous days.
Second, at the end of the day, review what got done with some kind of a custom “Daily Productive Checklist.” The most successful leaders I know do some kind of debrief at the end of the day. Here’s the one that I use:
- Acknowledge what got done.
- Compliment someone (internal or external) on work they did.
- Identify what project was not touched, ignored or put off for later.
Starting tomorrow, reclaim your productivity. Commit to this week-long experiment to get more of the most important things done. And, while you’re here, please leave your greatest productivity tip in the comments below.