I am back at work! And it feels good. I really appreciated being able to take over two months of leave to address some personal issues and recharge my batteries. However, I have realized I am born to work. Not insane hours with little to no breaks, but I definitely crave the structure that comes with work as well as the satisfaction of creating and contributing.
On top of going back to work, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, my daughter had her tonsils out, and I’ve been dealing with a lot of major personal decisions. So a rather crazy week.
In light of going back to work, I thought I’d share with you my personal “productivity reminders” list. I have spent much time reading about and practicing simple productivity. It started when a colleague lent me David Allen’s Getting Things Done and my eyes were opened to the possibilities. I have also read a bunch on this topic on zenhabits and further written about it myself on my (now shut down) product management blog.
The reason productivity is important for people interested in simple living is that getting things done quickly and more efficiently frees up time for the things you love. You may love your job, but I bet you have other interests as well. Hence, simple productivity at work contributes to your overall simple living goals.
So without further ado, here is my list of productivity reminders:
- Turn off email. I cannot stress this enough. Email is a huge distraction and pretty much ruins any chances of you being efficient at work. It’s OK to check email only a few times per day. I usually set up a time in the morning, right after lunch and before I go home.
- Don’t send email. OK, I realize that sometimes email is the best form of communication. However, here is an obvious, yet little-known secret: The less email you send, the less you’ll get. Try other forms of communication like IM or phone (or walking over to the person’s desk!) and see the number of daily emails shrink.
- Get to work early. Working when nobody else is around is a great way to get things done. (I’m still working on this one!)
- Attend only essential meetings. If your company is like most companies, you have meeting overload. This sucks up a lot of time. Be picky about the meetings you attend and make sure there is always an agenda and clear objectives. (Also, just because Outlook defaults to 30 minutes doesn’t mean that meetings need to last that long…)
- Observe “Productivity Day.” Productivity Day is the day when you work away from the office. It may be at home (assuming you can be productive at home), at a coffee shop, or at the library. You will get more work done during this one day than the rest of the days put together. Trust me!
- Focus on the task at hand. This ties in with the concept of mindfulness. Be aware of the task you’re working on and focus fully on it. If other thoughts come up, make a quick note and get back to your task. There really is no such thing as “multi-tasking” only shifting rapidly from task to task (and it’s not productive).
I hope these reminders will help you as much as they help me. And please let me know if you have other tips!
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