You know the drill I am sure. Friday afternoon rolls around and you are looking for a weekend off. The brochures are filed, the phone has been turned off, your desk is straightened for a fresh start on Monday and your best client’s final payment has been made!
Or has it?
Panic sets in and in all likelihood, hilarity ensues as you try to confirm or deny this payment in the early evening hours of the beginning of a weekend! Your productivity was so under control—or so you thought. Now it is shot! So what causes it? You thought you had your productivity skills down pat. Likely there are three things that we all take for granted that are sucking your productivity away.
How many times have you wished for more hours in a day to get your work accomplished? More days in a week? When we are stressed, the logical thing to do is to skip a break. Work through lunch. But, just like skipping a meal to lose weight, it seems like an idea that should work, it rarely does. Take the breaks. Even if they are for a few minutes. Set alarms on your phone. Wander outside, breathe in fresh air. Brains require oxygen to function. Get your blood flowing and clear your head. If you are into the holistic scene, maybe a bit of meditation, tai chi or yoga is the trick. Take the break, do something that is not work, and reap the benefits.
Back when Windows was first released the buzzword was “multi-tasking.” The operating system enabled you to work on e-mail, documents, spreadsheets, photos, games, and videos all at once. “Multi-tasking” is a buzzword that continues to this day. Get rid of it. Here’s an example of multi-tasking for you… you are driving down I-95 doing 75 MPH, having a conversation with the passenger in the seat next to you, looking at your GPS to make sure you have the right exit, and are trying to text your spouse and updated ETA for your arrival as you pass a cop. How do you think that will work out for you? Multitasking typically equals mediocre work, including a high percentage of mistakes. Some studies indicate that you lose up to 40% of your productivity on each task when you multi-task. Why not get 80%, 90%, or 100% out of your efforts? In addition to your scheduled breaks, block out separate times in your day to handle emails, phone calls, marketing, payments, etc. Your work will improve. While the travel industry somewhat demands a 24-7 presence for agents, it does not mean that responses must be immediate. I tend to answer my emails first thing in the morning and just before my breaks or between dedicated tasks, I will take a scan to see if there are any truly urgent matters that cannot wait till the following morning. Sometimes there are. That’s life.
Thanks in large part to technology; we are able to do so much more in a day with less. We used to have to go to the office to send and receive faxes—now our phones handle it…in the palm of our hands. Remember having to look at a map and write out directions? Printing out MapQuest directions? Now, all we do is say “Hey Siri, take me to 123 Main Street” and we are on our way. A natural side effect of this is that we are always being asked to do more.
We like to volunteer. We like to be the first with our hands up. Many of us relish the role of “yes man” to our supervisors (or spouses). Trying to juggle tasks and complete assignments leads to sacrificing quality for quantity. Toss in a shaky economy and “no” leads to a fear of a job loss.
It is difficult, but learn to say “no.” OK, let’s not be rude about it; explain why you have to say no. Offer an alternative solution. Maybe it can be put off until a time when you can devote 100% to the project? Maybe a co-worker is better able to handle it now.
I found myself guilty of all of these and took steps to reduce and eliminate them. While still not perfect (just checked and responded to a few emails while writing this) I can definitely see that I have more Ts crossed and more Is dotted. Give it a shot, you have nothing to lose!