Are you busy and not productive?

by | Apr 22, 2022 | 0 comments

Do you find that in your working day you are only making the slightest bit of progress in a million directions? Is your to do-list a mile long and you never get anything accomplished? Are you busy and not productive? Let’s have a look at a few ways we can become more productive and time efficient.

Saying “No”

It can be difficult to say no to a colleague or your boss when they ask you to do a piece of work. Many of us say yes to things because we are keen to please and make a difference. It is worth considering though, if you are saying “yes” to colleague by taking on yet another piece of work, who or what are you saying “no” to? The answer is that you are most likely saying no to yourself. The to-do list gets longer, and you may have to stay late to finish your own work which has a knock-on effect to on other aspect of your life. It is not easy saying no. What you can do is pause and think for a moment if it is feasible for you to take on this piece of work. Ask yourself again, if I am saying yes to this who or what am I saying no to.

If you are going to say no, say it with conviction. It is much better to say, “I can’t do this right now” as opposed to “I will try and make this work” and letting the person down later.

Managing Distractions

Do you ever find yourself saying, there are not enough hours in the day for me to get my work done? If so, take some time to reflect on the distractions and interruptions in your day. There is no denying that some distractions are out of our control. However, we can control how we manage our emails, social media, notifications, and unnecessary meetings. The costs on productivity associated with quickly checking a message or a notification on your device when you are in the middle of a task are substantial. While we think we are multi-tasking and being productive, our brains do not react very well to the interruption. According to Gloria Mark, it can take on average 25 minutes to resume working on a task after we have been interrupted. So how can we manage these distractions?

Check your emails only if you have the time, attention, and energy to deal with them. Set some time aside in your diary at times throughout the day to check your email. When you are trying to do a focused piece of work, close your email application if possible.

Put your phone on airplane mode. If you find that it is still too easy for you to remove airplane mode, put your device in a drawer so you cannot see it.

If you are the recipient of a meeting request, ask yourself:

  • Is this meeting necessary?
  • Have you detailed an agenda for the meeting? If not, ask for one.

Challenge yourself as to whether it is necessary for you to attend every meeting that arrives in your diary.

Time Management

There is a time in the day where we are most productive. That might be early in the morning or late at night. For me it is once I have my mid-morning coffee at a 11 o’ clock. This is when I do my creative work when I need to think outside the box. Alternatively, 3 o’ clock is my least productive time of the day. This is when I check my emails or do my administrative work.

Rather than avoiding your most taxing piece of work, tackle it head on at the beginning of the day. Finally, when you need to do a really focussed piece of work, enter monk mode. Remove all distractions and place yourself in an environment where you can get your work done.

I recently read “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown which formed the inspiration for this article. McKeown says, pause to discern what really matters, say no to everything except the essential, get the right things done and choose carefully to do great work.