Overcome Your Productivity Barriers
Do you find yourself starting the day with yesterday’s work still staring you in the face? If your work is piling up, or not up to par, you can help yourself by overcoming your productivity barriers.
“High productivity is the result of doing the right things right the first time,” says Donna Long, president of Learning Journey Inc., in Kissimmee, Fla., and coauthor of JukeBox Journey to Success. “Three of the most common barriers to productivity are poor time management, lack of effort, and a negative attitude.”
Here are Long’s suggestions for overcoming these issues.
Manage your time
Here's how to improve your time-management skills:
Keep a detailed log of what you’re doing for a week. Document even non-work time, such as the 15 minutes you spend talking with your coworkers about the latest movie or the weather. “As you look over your log, you may be surprised how much of your time is unproductive or wasted,” says Long.
Shorten coworker interruptions. “Give them 30 seconds just to be polite, and then say, ‘That was great, but I’m really crunched. I have a deadline to meet,’ ” advises Long. “If that doesn’t work, stand up and walk to the door. Do something to break the interaction so you can come back and get your work done.”
Control phone interruptions. Unless part of your job is to answer the phone every time it rings, turn off the ringer and listen to your messages later. Every interruption breaks your focus and concentration.
Break an e-mail addiction. If possible, check e-mail once in midmorning, and once again in midafternoon.
Eliminate unnecessary work. List the most important things you should be doing every day to be successful—call five customers, process 20 claims, whatever. Review it with your supervisor, and eliminate any unnecessary work.
Boost your effort
“We tend to do the things we want to do instead of what we must do,” says Long. “So, don’t procrastinate. If you get the tough job done in the morning, you won’t be dreading it for the rest of the day.”
Make an extra effort to double-check your work as you do it. If you’re working on a project, get continual feedback from your boss to make sure you’re on the right track.
When you have to redo your work, learn from your mistakes by asking yourself these questions:
Why do I have to do this task more than once?
Are there more effective ways to do this task?
Who can help me become more effective at this task?
Improve your attitude
“There are two kinds of people: Externals believe whatever happens simply happens, and they have no control over it. Internals believe there are things they can do to help control their work and their productivity,” says Long.
Externals look to people or things outside themselves for reasons their productivity is slipping. Internals take responsibility by looking at productivity barriers as challenges to conquer, and they tend to focus on what they can do.
“If you want to boost your productivity, take responsibility,” says Long. “You can do so by controlling your time, your effort, and your attitude.”