I generally think of myself as an extremely productive and difficult-to-distract person, but I’ve recently realized that I’m deluding myself. Sure, I get stuff done, but I procrastinate, waste time, and get distracted often. For all the complaining I do about needing more time in a day I should start by creating more time in a day by wasting less of it.
So here are the three specific things I’ve come up with to be more productive this week — I promise to report back next weekend and let you know how I did:
1. De-activate my “new mail” notifier. Checking email is my biggest time-waster at work, by a long shot. I justify it by thinking that since I work in digital media and since most of the people I work with are in different locations, email is essential to my success. All that is true, but it doesn’t mean that I should always keep my email windows open and check new messages as soon as they come in, replying to many that don’t need an ASAP reply. I’ve tried simply limiting the number of times I check email and just closing my email programs, but that didn’t go far enough. So this week I am turning off all of my new email notifications. (Really, I am. Really.)
2. Set defined no-work time zones. One of the biggest downsides of working from a home office is that I can work all the time. So I do. Outside the few hours a day that I spend being a mommy, I am usually attached to my computer, working at all hours of early morning or late night. Some of this is necessary — as a CEO of a young start-up there are just too many things to get done — but some of this is not. Knowing that I have all night to finish my daily work makes me less disciplined during the day. I complain about not having enough time, but I think I might have too much time to work. This week I am setting specific start and end times to my work days, every day. (Yes, my dear husband, this means that I might actually look at you when we talk rather than nod in half-understanding as I type away.)
3. Start the day by getting 3 annoying things from my to-do list done. I think being productive has a lot to do with feeling productive. I know when I get something done that I’m dreading, I feel completely awesome and energized, like when I called our accountant last week to talk about taxes (yes, filing late). So this week I am going to tap into my inner Energizer Bunny every morning and start the day by removing the dreaded, the time-consuming, the this-is-worse-than-the-dentist stuff from my to-do list. You know what a great stress relief it is to write something on your to-do list and cross it off? This is that, but spiked with an energy drink. Or so I think.
What are your best tips for being more productive?