Better work productivity will keep everyone happy.
We work too hard. We fill our days with activity, but at the end of the day are we happy with what we have achieved? Do we have good work productivity? Too often our focus is on working our way through our inbox, not doing the big stuff that will have a greater impact.
One of the best ways to get better work productivity is to switch off the inbox notifications, and the automatic send/ receive, and check emails on your terms.
Decide what will help you to have better work productivity.
This is what works for me.
- At the end of each work day I make a note of the 3 tasks I want to complete the next day. Now, if one of these is a major task such as a web site review, it’s going to take more than a few hours, so I’ll break this task down into manageable steps and do the first step.
- Before I open Outlook, I work on task 1 – and I focus on this for 2 hours, or until completed. I avoid distractions, so if another idea comes to me I write it down. I stay focused.
- Time for a stretch break. I’ll get some water, and get my legs moving. I’ll step away from the screen and look outside, for me I’ve got a great countryside view, but if not … the most important thing is to take my eyes off the screen.
- Depending on the time I start work and my first task, I may well start on task 2. I’m on a roll, I’m in charge of my productivity, and I’m feeling good.
- Only now will I check emails. Most are not time critical, and if anything is … they can pick up the phone. What you may need to do is to ‘train’ people in how you respond. This could be by talking with your colleagues and boss or setting up an auto message. You can tell people that emails are checked twice a day – perhaps at 12 and 4pm? Have messages sent to you get an auto message like this:
Due to my workload and deadlines, I’ll be checking emails at 12 and 4pm each day. If anything can’t wait then you can reach me on 09931 931 931.
Thanks for your understanding, here’s to a productive day. Best wishes, Denise
- Use auto messages. These can be so helpful. Let people know who to contact for specific info. Tell them there is no need to copy you in on your reply.
- Get less emails. You don’t need to be copied in on emails as the norm. Stop the replies that are there to say thank you, and end your emails with a ‘no need to reply’.
Why this approach to work productivity works
The main reason this works is that we are poor at multi-tasking. Each time we move between tasks we need to adapt to the new information and this can take up to 45 minutes! It also means we can get to the end of a day with many things partly done and nothing completed.
We can also have better work productivity if we automatically route ‘reading’ emails to a separate folder.
I’ve been doing this for a while. As I type this I have 214 messages – newsletters, shopping, links to articles on LinkedIn. I used to give these are much urgency as client emails. Now, they can sit and wait and I feel comfortable. Some days I’ll take a 20-minute break mid-afternoon, and review them. I review them in ‘From order’ and if I get too many messages from one sender, I’ll unsubscribe. No one needs to email me every day. Often, I delete many without reading, but I also unsubscribe from many. But sometimes I let them mount up. I’ll then take a maximum of 1 hour to review, and anything left – all gets deleted!
This article was written in support of Work Wise Week. This takes place 14-20 May and was created to help promote smarter working practices. I’ve worked with QuickBooks to provide productivity tips to support their mission.