Tips for Running Your Day More Productively

The workday is frenetic. It is filled with meetings, calls, assignments, and constant requests. Running a productive day requires a delicate touch to balance others’ needs against work that must be done.

Consider these suggestions to remain productive throughout a busy day.

1. Reduce Meeting Lengths by Twenty-Five Percent

There are only two bad answers as to why one-hour meetings exist: One, that’s the way it’s always been done, or two, Outlook said so. Consider cutting all meetings by twenty-five percent.

2. Schedule Time Between Meetings

Running from meeting to call to meeting to call is more than exhausting; it is ineffective. Much is lost in the transitions—good ideas, takeaways, prep time, etc. Carve a few minutes out between each appointment to debrief from the last appointment, prepare for the next one, or to check in with teammates. Do this by inserting a short “Unavailable” event on the calendar after every actual appointment.

3. Take Short Breaks

The mind is productivity’s engine. It requires periods of rest in order to perform optimally. Find ways to take short breaks during the day to recharge the mind.

4. Regularly Survey All You Command

One key to staying on top of things is to periodically stop and take stock of what is happening. Counterintuitively, slowing down can be faster. Taking a short break to match time availability with workload often results in doing more because this small planning effort better utilizes the time available to produce a work product.

5. Expect Emergencies

Optimism can undermine productivity. An 8-to-5 workday does not result in eight hours of time to work on what is already on our list. The exigent needs of each day fill much of that day’s available time. To the extent possible, plan for several hours of unscheduled time each day to deal with urgent matters that arise.

6. Slice the Day into Targeted Wedges

Studies have found that most people have a natural productivity rhythm. We usually possess the greatest mental energy in the morning, less at mid-day, and the least towards the end of the day. What if we targeted our efforts into the wedges of the day best suited for the work that needs doing? Consider these wedges:

  • Morning – 8:00am to 11:00am.  Do the hard, individual effort tasks, the ones that take the most mental energy. Avoid scheduling meetings and calls during this period. Focus this wedge of time on doing.
  • Mid-Day – 11:00am to 2:00pm. Do the collaborative work during the middle of the day. This is where meetings and phone calls are best scheduled. We can share our available energy among the participants.
  • Late Day – 2:00pm to 5:00pm. Do the administrative work during this wedge, the items that must get done but require less energy to complete.

The times listed above are estimates and not everything can be scheduled into its best wedge. However, attempts to match the work with the available mental energy will produce a better overall result.

Start using one or more of these suggestions to make this fall highly productive.

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