Have you ever gotten to the end of a busy work day, only to look back over the past eight or so hours and wonder what it was you actually accomplished? In business, there can be a temptation to pack your days full of meetings, conferences and projects. While having a busy schedule might make it look as though you’re getting a lot done, the opposite can actually be true. Scheduling hacks can actually increase your productivity and allow you to make the most of your work days.
Leaving space in your schedule to increase productivity can seem counterintuitive. After all, if you are leaving hours of time free, aren’t you effectively wasting that time? Not necessarily. Scheduling a free day once a week or so gives you time to tackle those tasks that you are usually unable to get to when meeting after meeting is scheduled or when you are running from one client’s office to the next.
To make the most of your free day, actually include it on your calendar or schedule. Make sure anyone who handles your schedule knows about the day, so that they don’t inadvertently schedule a phone call or other meeting for the middle of your day. Remember that the day isn’t a day off, either. Use the time you’ve blocked off to answer lingering emails, follow up with customers you haven’t heard from in a while, or to start brainstorming ideas for your company’s next steps.
Set Time Limits
Meetings can drag on and take up more time than anyone anticipated. One way to make them more productive is to set a firm time limit for them. Give your sales team 30 minutes for a meeting and actually set a timer for that many minutes. Ideally, the team will be able to get through what they need to get through in that amount of time. Otherwise, it will have to wait until the next meeting. Putting time restrictions on meetings and other activities that tend to meander can help you and your team focus on what’s really important during the meeting and avoid going off on tangents.
Schedule the Little Things
Sometimes, the seemingly small tasks can end up eating up a large portion of the day. For example, many people have told themselves that they would just take a peek at their email, only to an hour or longer sorting through messages. Or, constant pings and notifications from email, social media, and other accounts throughout the day can pull you away from the tasks you’re trying to focus on. To keep the small tasks from reducing your daily productivity, block off time to focus on them. Give yourself 15 to 20 minutes to read, delete and respond to email at the beginning of the day, midday and at the end of the day. Schedule some time for social media and resist the urge to check your accounts outside of that block of time. Turn off any notifications from your phone or computer, so that you aren’t distracted any time a new message pops up.
Break Big Projects into Pieces
Large projects can often seem overwhelming, leading you to put off getting started on them. Dividing a larger project into several smaller, more manageable components can help you complete it in good time. One option is to use Pomodoro Technique, named for the tomato-shaped egg timer its creator, Francesco Cirillo, used to track his time when working. Using the technique, you set the timer for 25 minutes, work continuously for that time, then take a five minute break. After four 25 minute working and 5 minute break cycles, you can take a longer, 15 minute break. To make the most of the technique, it helps to choose tasks that you can complete in 25 minutes, such as reading a new article, emailing people involved in your project, or crunching the numbers on your budget.
At New Direction Capital, our goal is to help your business succeed and grow by helping you reach your goals. To learn more about how we can help you increase productivity and take your business to the next stage, contact us today.
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