Lots of us have had times when we’ve felt like we could be doing more—but having days, weeks, or months like this can be tough.
If you feel stuck, you may be able to get more revved up and accomplish more by pursuing some strategies to boost productivity and work smarter, not harder. Here are some essential ways to prioritize work, in order to move forward and break out of a rut.
Group Core Work Together
Each one of us has our own “core work,” the kind of work that we were hired or contracted to do. These are our main priorities. The problem is that other kinds of work can often intrude, and sometimes, this starts to derail a work process. You get caught up doing administrative busywork, chasing loose ends, or putting out fires, and you start to lose sight of the actual productive work that supports your career, whether that’s production of content, sales, management or anything else.
To fight this kind of malaise, carve out time for core work each day, and keep that commitment to regularly produce quotas that you set for yourself.
Another big tip is to set up a daily calendar that includes ordered chunks of time for each thing that you have to do on a regular basis. Paying invoices, making phone calls, writing or filling out contracts, putting together a schedule—all of these things take up their own space in your work day, and they should have their own space on your calendar. Think about how you work best, and set up your workday accordingly. For example, create a ½ hour “mini break” for each of those tasks such as invoicing or follow-up calls—and keep each one in its own “time box.”
Get to Know Your Software
If you really look closely at what’s causing challenges in your workday, you might find that a lot of it is related to the software tools you use.
Each interface has its own features and its own learning curve for users. Over time, you learn everything, and you start to get more comfortable. Here’s an example: you’re an old hand at MS Word, and accomplished at Dropbox, but then you start migrating projects into something like a third-party WordPress editor, or a proprietary CMS build by one of your clients—and things start getting crazy. Text starts getting warped or showing up wrong in the software tool. You feel like you have to open too many windows, and you’re not sure what to do.
Trying to handle a whole bunch of software products daily can have you feeling stressed—and working with new interfaces can slow you down quite a bit. If you can consolidate work in a way that allows you to use what you’re most comfortable with, you could see your productivity improve a whole lot. For some of the problems associated with troublesome interfaces, see this Techopedia article on user disorientation, and how professionals in the gaming industry are helping to overcome some of these challenges for users.
Keep Passwords, Tables and Templates Handy
This is another point where a lot of us get slowed down—when you forget a password, or don’t have a reference on hand, you have to go look for it. This can turn a productive workday into a goose-chase nightmare. It doesn’t take much of this type of disorganization to take a big chunk out of your day or to throw off your focus. In fact, resources like this one from AllBusiness show that the “average worker” gets distracted from a new project after only 11 seconds—and spent 25 minutes getting back on track! The solution? Keep sets of references in handy folders, so that what you need is always right there at your fingertips.
These practical tips can help keep you focused on getting where you need to be at your job each day.
Author: Mike Kamo is the VP of marketing for Strideapp. Stride is a Cloud-based CRM and mobile app that helps small to medium sized agencies manage and track leads, as well as close more deals. They can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
Published: April 7, 2014