Most of us have and will experience a challenging workload at various points in our career. With businesses increasingly focused on optimal productivity, instigated by periods of business growth, recession or transformation, responsibility and expectation can grow with little direction or support from leadership. Here’s my advice on how to maximise your productivity and capacity whilst protecting performance.
Balance Priorities with Multi-tasking
In a perfect working day, we’d be able to concentrate on our most important task and see it through to high-quality execution but very few of us work in environments where this is possible.
Whilst it’s absolutely vital to understand the urgency and immediacy of our assigned tasks and projects, it’s also equally important to accept that in the course of a day, you are likely to have competing priorities – some of these you may be able to plan into your schedule, but others may hit your inbox and throw your day into chaos.
In this case, re-evaluate your targets for the day to make sure that you are still focused on the most urgent task of the day. If this pushes back on your progress on other areas of work, accept it and make sure it’s communicated to the relevant colleagues.
Time management experts all agree that bouncing around from one task to the other is a huge time waster, as you’re having to constantly refocus and shift gear.
The number one driver of distractions is your email. Let’s be clear, however – distractions are completely different from the urgent disruptions we discuss above, but rather than a tendency to close off minor or unimportant things as they appear. Avoid this temptation, and rather schedule an appropriate amount of time two or three times a day to deal with these sorts of tasks.
In short, to maximise your productivity, don’t let your inbox dictate your workload!
If a particular task or project is consistently being moved to tomorrow’s to-do list, ask yourself why. This will usually be because you’re unsure of what is required or how to get started, or perhaps this particular part of the job is just something you really don’t enjoy.
Whichever it happens to be, think carefully about the impact of delaying this particular task – are you going to cause yourself more stress and aggravation by continually putting it off? If the answer is yes, take steps ASAP to address your delaying tactics.
If you have the opportunity to delegate then do it properly. Micro-managing your chosen employee won’t save you time and will more than likely leave you with a frustrated colleague.
Rather, provide clear information on what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and deadlines. Make sure you’re available for questions and feedback but schedule regular catch-ups to try and avoid unplanned interruptions. If the project is not progressing in the manner or speed you expect it to, make this clear to your staff member, tackling issues sooner rather than later.