As I proceed with my daily consulting and coaching activities, a weird thing always happens. Certain behaviors and actions come to my attention in themes. One month I might notice that everywhere I look, organizations are struggling with strategic planning. Another month it might be communication or email challenges. This month’s topic seems to be ways that we sabotage our productivity.
Take a look and see if you exhibit any of these behaviours:
1. Working in a totally disorganized environment. The picture above is not pretty. To enter such a workspace on a regular basis will drain your energy. And what do people think of you? The perception is that you really are disorganized so why should they even attempt to deal with you? You might be the nicest person in the world but people are going to think twice before handing over anything.
2. Having more than one to-do list scattered over your desk, bag, chair, bookcase and computer. Whoa! That is something that is very hard to control. Being organized means having all your information in ONE place. I bet that there are duplicate and triplicate entries on those lists. The first step is to take all those to-do lists and transfer them to a notebook, a task list on your computer or a calendar.
3. Being so anal (sorry!) that you print every single email; even the ones that are appointments or meetings and that are already scheduled on your calendar. Excuse me! Even if you do not want to save the environment, why would you need so much of a reminder to do something or go somewhere? If you need to be reminded, use the alert button on your calendar or put a string on your finger! If you attend many meetings, create folders, either electronic or paper for each meeting and include the relevant information. If you are lucky enough to have an administrative assistant, have them arrange these folders by day and present to you as you leave the office.
4. Having too many detailed systems and processes. Simple and easy is the way to go with systems. Many of us, especially the procrastinators, spend time developing lists and systems for what we have to do in order to save us from having to deal with the real issues. Give yourself a time limit to set up simple systems, use them for a while and tweak if necessary. Then get on with what really matters.
5. Being reactive instead of proactive. Spinning your wheels all the time without a structure or foundation for what you do, will just provide a faster way for you to burn out. It will overwhelm you physically and emotionally and will affect your team more than you realize. Planning, training, empowering and systematizing will prevent you from responding only to urgent matters all the time. So take the time to do those things.
6. Marking emails as UNREAD. One of the chief components of productivity is to deal with incoming information only once. Read it then decide whether you need to delete, delegate, do or defer and have a system in place where your emails do not remain in your inbox.
7. Leaving everything in your head and having no system or calendar to follow. Even if your head is big enough to hold all that information, why would you want to do so? And how do you keep any clarity? Your brain is valuable real estate so save it for the important things that require your energy. Get yourself a calendar to follow all the non-urgent times in your day.
Can you think of any other ways that we sabotage our productivity? Please share and we will include them in future blogs.
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