Many times in my career people have remarked on how productive I am. I have shared my tips with people I have mentored today I will share them with you. If you are diligent with little practice you will double your productivity.
1) Know your life rhythm.
Scientists call this your circadian rhythm. This is the time of day when you are at your greatest ability. I am a morning person; you may be an evening person. It is relatively easy to find your rhythm. What time of the day do you have the greatest energy? What time of the day do you step into the ‘zone’ more easily? This is your time. Once you determine when this time is guard it zealously. When I was a developer I blocked out 7:00 – 9:00 every day. I logged out of I’m, I didn’t check email. All calls went to voicemail. If someone walked to my desk for help, I would respectfully tell them I was in the middle of solving a problem and could I meet with them later. I would get so much done during this time I felt if I was doing anything other than coding I was allowing someone to steal from the company.
2) Manage distractions.
Notice I did not say avoid distractions. It is impossible to totally avoid distractions, so I do not even try. You can at best only hope to manage them. Here are numerous tips on managing them.
Have some time set aside each day to answer emails; voice mails requests for helping other people solve problems. Once you do that make sure everyone knows when these times are and stick by them. In my voicemail message, I use to state I check voice mails 3 times each day and the times I check them. This way people know what to expect from you. I also stated that if this was an emergency how they can escalate a response. Since I can automate responses I check emails much more frequently. Every hour or two. Over time people will notice they get an email response quicker and will use that method to contact you.
Since I know what my most effective work time you should also know when your least effective work time is. This is the time I keep unblocked on my calendar. This then becomes the defacto time people will tend to schedule meetings with me. Meetings are the largest monetary drain on most companies. It is sad how many billions are wasted on ineffective meetings. I want to make sure that I encourage people to use the time I am hunting for a candy bar to schedule their status meetings or decision meetings.
I also scheduled one hour each day to help others solve their problems. So while I was completing my work tasks and someone would come up for help with a problem, I would say something like. “I would love to help you with that coding issue. I am currently working on solving another problem and can help you for an hour at one o’clock”. Over time I noticed one of four things happened.
1) They would solve the problem on their own. This is great for that person. It showed them that they also have the ability within themselves to solve their problem.
2) They could not wait and would ask someone else. That is good too; it gave me more time and helped someone else grow.
3) They would give up and read a paper or talk. To a neighbor. That was bad and it would be a mentoring opportunity. I a not there to do their work, and I always dislike working with people who can’t get their work done unless they have a crutch.
4) Lastly that I would help them. With this approach I minimized the negative interruptions; I also decreased the people who accepted assistance about 20% while increasing the capabilities of my organization over time I believed.
3) Create productivity rituals.
I have over the years discovered ways to get myself back into work mode. I have found these rituals helpful in getting your mind focused back on the task at hand. My personal rituals are checking my email, then I go to Slashdot to read a story or two. Over the years I have trained my mind to get right back into problem solving mode. I learned this technique when I worked doing cold calling.
4) Make sure your passion is what you are asked to deliver.
We spend way too much time at work to not love what we do. If you chose your career just as a framework to make money, money will probably never find you. In order to be successful, you need to be able to put in many long hours. If someone tells you there is an instant or quick way. Walk away from that person, walk down the street and buy a lottery ticket at the local market. You are far better off with that approach. It will only cost you a dollar and much less effort that the get rich quick scams. If you want to produce more, you have to be motivated. It is hard to be motivated when you do not love what you do. The work I do, I would do for free if I did not need to work.
I believe you will find success and increase your productivity if you follow these simple rules.