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5 Things you could do Right Now to save 2 hrs a day

When it comes to productivity we usually look into improving what we already do and not what we should stop doing.  The focus should be on saving time during the work day and use the extra time as a means to refresh our thinking and improving our well being.  Why is saving time so important?  I know that at times we wish we could have 26 hours in a day so we could cram more work or use it when we have a deadline to meet.  Even though this could come in handy, what we should want to accomplish is to shorten the work day by “letting go” of those activities that make our efforts unproductive to begin with.  What is the end result?  Now you can do in 45 minutes what you used to do in one hour just because you are not interrupting yourself!
So here are the 5 things I promised to share with you:CEF_2905

1. Plan the time your check, read and answer emails.  By doing this you will get rid of the number one reason (in my opinion) why we have gotten to be so good interrupting ourselves.  I believe email does today what the telephone used to do in the past, that pesky phone call at the most inopportune time.   When I am waiting for a truly important email I engage, if possible, in tasks that I know I can interrupt without much consequence.   If I have a busy day, I usually pick a time in the morning and one in the afternoon to check, read and answer emails.  I sometimes check again before I leave the office so I can plan ahead…but only when necessary and never on Fridays unless I am in the middle of a critical task.  I want all of me to go back home and not leave part of my brain at the office thinking about that task I cannot do anything about over the weekend anyway. 

2.  Don’t touch anything you are not willing to complete at that very same time.  This goes for snail mail, reports, phone calls, research and of course email.   For example, when I decide to check snail mail, I first check the envelopes to see which could require immediate attention.  If I decide to open an envelope, then I complete whatever task it brings and put it away for good.  If I decide to continue opening my mail, I do the same until I am done.  By the way, I sometimes glance at my snail mail to see when I should take onto the task of opening mail and if it looks like a “no-brainer pile” and I am extremely busy, I may decide to open mail while I eat lunch at my desk, but I never eat while completing stressful tasks.  As a rule, if I touch a piece of paper on my desk, then I take care of the task to completion and delete from my mental list of things to do.

3. Telephone calls are a killer when it comes to interrupting while working on a task.  If I am not expecting an important call, then I keep my phone off when I arrive to the office and focus on completing what is needed and important.  Sometime my phone is off until 9:30 or 10:00 AM, to this date I have not received a call that couldn’t have waited a few minutes.  When I turn on my phone, then I check any messages and return those calls worth returning.  Those of less importance I schedule to answer depending on the relevancy and my work schedule.

4. Avoid the coffee muggers… we know who you are.  Have you ever been in your office or cubicle doing what you are supposed to do and the next thing you know someone with a coffee mug leans on your door frame or cubicle partition and sais hi?  Be polite and firm when someone tries to “coffee mug” you and let them know you are in the middle of something extremely important (using your time wisely).   If you have a door, use it!  If not, “train” your co-workers not to interrupt you while you are working unless is important.

5. If you are the boss, consider rewarding your office staff for productivity and not for busyness and that goes for you too.  How is better productivity from someone else going to save you time?  Less interruptions, higher work quality, better customer satisfaction…That will save you time and money.  It is not uncommon on the day I send someone home early when they have completed all he/she needed to do.  That person would come the next day refreshed, appreciative and ready to tackle the day with gusto.

You may think a client would prefer you to be fully available and accessible during business hours, but you may be surprised to find how many clients appreciate the fact you are fully focused on their projects without distractions and disruptions, especially those paying you by the hour…Have a productive day!