This is a guest post by Jason Womack, author of Your best Just Got Better—a book designed to show you how to make your best even better, how to achieve more in work and life, and how to sustain those changes over time. Womack defines productivity as: “Doing what I said I would do, within the time that I promised.”
You're about to end a conference call, and someone says, "Great, we'll send you some materials right away." A day goes by, and then a week. What happens to your confidence in that person? Surely, you may continue to do business together, but you'll always wonder if they'll do what they said they'd do, in the time they promised.
So, now is the time to look in the mirror Are you putting something off? Because you forgot, or is it on purpose? Are you missing key resources? Are you waiting for key data before you can make the next decision? Or, are you procrastinating? Begin by exploring your own daily routines. When you understand HOW you work, you can get things done more effectively. Here's an activity you can experiment with this week.
Write down the approximate time you arrive and leave the office every day. This represents your “work-week.” (I call this the "window of professional productivity.") For each single hour you were working, you made choices about what to focus on as “priority.” You also chose what did not get done!
Here are three ways to get going and sustain an action-orientation to your own productivity:
- Choose smaller verbs. One of the reasons that people don't do things as they think of them (especially entrepreneurs and senior leaders) is because of their skill at Visionary Thinking. Because they CAN think big, they do. Chunk your objectives into smaller markers along your path to success. Recently, I worked with a Managing Partner of a Fortune 500 company who realized that more important than managing time is her need to more effectively direct her focus within the small chunks of time she has to work.
- Find, create, utilize and assess the extra time you have each day. Arrive to an off-site meeting somewhere early? Other people running late? Maybe you get a last-minute cancellation of an appointment you had scheduled. What can you do during that time? Get ready for 15-minute blocks of time (what I call "bonus time") throughout the day. Why 15 minutes? That window is long enough to actually "do" something and short enough to find!
- Focus on what has happened. Regularly through the day (before lunch, and before you go home), take a moment and mentally check off what is complete. Oftentimes, there is so much going on, and so much you can think of that is UNDONE, you tend to forget how much is finished. This is your chance to recharge – as acknowledging completion is a quick way to get back on track. (Have you ever made a list of to-dos…after you’ve already done them?!)