A productive activity is one that will somehow push you forward, put you in a place where you weren’t yesterday and ultimately bring you closer to the end goal. Now take a step back and think about what an ideal productive day looks like for you. Most of the time the activities put you into the mind-set of lots of little jobs equates to success – this is wrong.
Move fast and break things is a startup mantra and to be honest it should be a mantra for every workplace. The problem right now is that when we say we’re busy or decide to work into the early morning hours we’re just fooling ourselves into thinking that the level of activity is going to turn us into the next big thing.
Certainly there are places where lots of little pieces of work will help e.g. financial reports which will need extra care and attention. However getting bogged down into a level of “static activity” is quite easy.
“Static Activity”: The process of completing tasks with the results showing no progression or movement.
Think about the number of emails you answered today, the number of blogs you wrote, the number of fancy images you created for the social media profile and so on. These are not what define the growth of a multinational business – not at the startup stages at least anyway.
In order to really get into the stratospheric levels of business and growth you need to destroy what we have become accustom to thinking is workplace ‘static’ activity and turn it into value adding, growth driving, business expanding, team building activities.
Here are some ideas on where to start:
1. Cut meetings: Meetings were once considered the staple part of a working day, thought to provoke action and motivation but instead resulting in loss of work hours and unmotivated staff who spend the next 3 hours trying to grind back into the “working” gear.
The new era of meetings are short and only require the specific personnel to attend, in some cases attendance may not be necessary. Spend some time pre-meeting getting all paperwork and reports sent to attendees beforehand so everyone can familiarise their selves.
Make sure you stick to the agenda and stick to the time constraints, meetings are super easy to go off onto a tangent about sports, TV shows and other unrelated things.
2. Cut distractions: Once we get into the groove of things we have the feeling of being in the zone however once we get taken out of it, which is actually quite easy, it can take 45 minutes to get back into it. This being without any other distractions in the meantime.
Distractions fall into the category of meetings, team members constantly seeking your help, being asked to do random tasks and so on.
Countless hours are lost due to having to chase or aid someone else, I’m not saying don’t do it but do what Tim Ferriss mentions in his 4 Hour Work Week Book and instruct everyone to contact you via emails and you’ll get back to them at a set time or if in emergency call your personal line.
3. Stick to 9 to 5: This no doubt makes some people shake in fear or disgust; it certainly made me the first time I thought about it. However the idea is that if you set strict time constraints on everything you do today I guarantee you’ll see a new level of unprecedented activity.
The problem of not sticking with these hours is that we get into the mind set of delegating our tasks which generally get pushed further and further into the evening. We begin to think that by putting work into the evening we can accomplish more but in reality the activity we replace the important tasks with is generally really, really pointless.
4. Rewards: This is one more for management teams or leaders but if you’re a freelancer or work at home then it can apply too. Take the 9 to 5 constraints one step further and say 9 ‘til 2 is my working day today, see what you accomplish and chances are you’ll have done so much that you’ll need the rest of the day off.
Play with your hours too – start work at 7am and finish at 3pm; still the same hours but with fewer distractions in the process. Again this is down to management and your general marketplace of work so use with caution but don’t forget about it either.
Business success is no longer determined by how many things you do in the day, it’s determined by how much value and productivity is added to the day and how much more closely it has brought you to the end goal.
Take a step back and be critical with yourself.
P.S. Watch Office Space for motivation.
P.P.S. I didn’t mention To-Do lists because they are at times the sole reason workplace productive is so confused and ineffective. Be frugal with these pesky things!