We’re in a unique situation: pipelines are full, but given the coronavirus pandemic, we’re having to keep up with changes in the law,changes in business guidelines, and borrower inquiries. Using our days productively is now more critical than ever.
If you feel like you’ve been stuck in a productivity rut recently or that you’re not being as effective as you could be given the current environment, maybe you need a new method of working. In this blog post,we’ll discuss productivity tips and tactics you can use to master your time and leave work feeling accomplished at the end of each day.
Before We Begin
Here are just a few things to keep in mind before diving into these productivity tips.
- Don’t try to incorporate all these tactics into your time management routine at once. Focus on one and master it, then evaluate whether you can and should add another one.
- Whichever one of these tips you choose, remember to keep your meaningful goals at the forefront of your mind – preferably in your calendar.
- Prioritize impactful actions over busy actions. Figure out where you make the most difference and try to automate tasks that don’t add as much value.
Perform A Time Study On Yourself
We can hear your eyes rolling in their sockets. But trust us, tracking your time for just a week or two can help you identify where you’re spending time productively and where you’re wasting it.
You can keep your time study on paper, or you can manage it digitally. Either way, work in 15- to 30-minute increments and write down what you were working on during that time spurt. All you need to do is set a timer for your chosen time interval and write out your results in a notebook or on an Excel spreadsheet at the end of each interval.
Once you’ve done your time study, categorize your time into productive work, busy work, and distractions. Color code those times to see where you’re really spending your time.
TIP #1: Time Blocking
One of the biggest time sucks we face is when we switch from one task to the other haphazardly. The mental effort needed to switch gears on what you’re doing is significant and trying to regain your train of thought on a task you abandoned can take several minutes. Time blocking can help mitigate the impact of that switch.
The key thing to remember about time blocking is that you block your time based what you think it should take you to complete a task, not based on the clock.
Setting up your time blocking is simple. Open the calendar you reference most often – typically your digital work calendar – and set appointments for the tasks you need to accomplish each day. Use your most difficult week from your time study to set expectations for how you need to block your time.
Color-coding is particularly useful since it shows you visually where all your time is going.
TIP #2: Make Monday Your Most Difficult Day
If you’ve ever heard the saying “Eat your frogs first,”that’s the principle we want you to apply here. That’s to say, do the most difficult or most impactful tasks first. You should do this for each week and each day.
The trouble is Tuesdays tend to be our most difficult days because we’re still easing back into work on Mondays. It can be particularly difficult to switch into work mode if you work from home, too. If you set outwith the mindset that you’re going to get the most difficult tasks out of the way at the beginning of the week, then you’ll be in a much more productive mindset.
One of the easiest ways to go about doing this is to aim to complete 80% of your week’s to-do list by Wednesday. That will give you Thursday to complete the last 20% and Friday to organize and prepare for the week ahead.
Something else you should do at the end of each day: a 15-minute brain dump. That’s where you write out all the things you still have outstanding for the week. You should also prioritize your tasks for the following day. Doing this each day will help you feel like you can leave work at work.
TIP #3: Create a Plan To Work Through
If you’re more of a big picture kind of person, creating a plan to execute on every day might be better for you. This type of time management involves setting your overarching goal and breaking it up into specific steps that you can work on daily.
For example, your goal might be to get a promotion in a year or to get 500 new leads into your pipeline in a month. Either of those would be your goal that you plan for.
Next, you need to ask some questions to build out your plan:
- What steps do you need to take to attain that goal?
- How frequently do those steps need to occur?
- Who will need to be involved to achieve your goal?
Using this method will minimize the number of decisions (and analysis paralysis) you might have because all the steps will be written out for you.
Once you have your steps solidified, add those steps to your calendar, scheduling the most important ones first.
This article first appears on the Genworth MI blog.