by Kyle Westfall
Hi. I’m Kyle. I’m not an organization and productivity expert, but I am a bit more OCD about it than most people. So, here are my tips to boost your productivity.
- Stop trying to multi-task. At some point in history it became this great accomplishment to be able to multi-task. Don’t do it. Give each item the proper focus and attention and most likely you’ll be done faster anyway.
- Train in organization. For me, staying productive means that things need to be in their place. If I have to stop and find something I’m slowing down my flow. This can mean physical items in your home. It can mean files on your computer. It takes time and it takes practice.
- Keep a list. Some people hate lists. I am one of them. My wife love to write things down just so she can cross them off. For me, writing something down means I no longer have the capacity to remember to do it. I had to make my peace with that. As family and work demands increase, sometimes you have to write something down to remember to do it.
- Keep a list again. At work, I have a clipboard with a list on it. The list has all of my workdays with ten lines on each day (at some point I decided that ten work items for me is a reasonable amount to expect from myself—these are not usually small items). Some of those lines have been replaced by items that recur each week. This allows me to add to my “to-do” list each week as necessary, but it also keeps me from overbooking and expecting too much from myself on any one day (here’s a version you can use: Blank To Do List).
- Walk away. Sometimes my production stagnates. This is especially true in the afternoon. At that point I have to walk away. Make sure you’re giving yourself proper breaks. If you’re not sure how many breaks are healthy, look up Michael Scott on The Office explaining Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Keep collaborators on task. If you are working with a group, help keep them on task. It’s really easy for group work to turn into a gripe session or joke fest. To maintain your productivity, help others remember the purpose of the work and get it done!
- Look ahead. Planning ahead can save you a lot of down time that you’d normally be using figuring out what you’re supposed to be doing next. Going back to item number four on this list. My daily recurring items are in the order that they need to be completed, and deviating from this order, more often than not, causes problems and interruptions later on.
- Work ahead, but don’t. Working ahead is great if you can. But don’t work ahead in a way that is going to cause you to redo work you’ve already done. If a coworker is notorious for changing things at the last minute, set a mutually beneficial deadline that will allow you to still complete the task but will also allow them time to change their mind if they need to. And by all means, if you’re working on a project by yourself and you’re confident nothing will change—get it done!
- Give each item its proper weight. Don’t spend too much time on something that is of little consequence later. I’m not saying to reduce your quality, but be mindful of the end result for what you’re working on. A presentation that’s going to be seen by hundreds of people is probably worth more time than an email to your buddy asking where you should eat for lunch. Make sure you’re not elevating small projects and tasks to a level that they don’t deserve.
What are some things you do to make sure you stay productive throughout the day? Tell us in the comments!
Kyle Westfall is married to Courtney and has three kids. He’s Communications Director at FUMC Tulsa. He’s also written about moving with kids, moving to Tulsa, and Christmas movies that should be on your list.