A pass to productivity
The ideal day in a work environment follows the simple formula: Task arrives, work on task, complete task, move on to next task.
Although, ideally we’d like to get as much done in the least amount of time possible, maybe it’s time we had a shake up about our idea of being ‘productive’. Surely the most productive results will be those that are most effective?
Unfortunately that’s not how many businesses operate – many businesses want results as fast as possible because fast results make fast money. However, when tasks are rushed often they can be done ineffectively. If a task is making you too stressed just slow down, take a breather and continue when you feel ready. A productive person is a person who’s in the right state of mind. It is far better to do a task once properly, than have to revisit it later because it has not been done properly.
Robert Pozen is an MIT Sloan senior lecturer who served as the former president of Fidelity Investments, executive chairman of MFS Investment Management, and as an associate general counsel of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Now, unless you’re part of the 1% of people who actually know what that means, you probably have a pretty blank expression on your face right now – welcome to the club… To put it briefly, Pozen managed a lot of large scale projects along with a lot of people, so it’s probably wise that we trust him when it comes to time management and productivity. Would you agree?
Pozen’s top tip to stay productive is to ‘measure productivity in results, not hours’.
Here’s Pozen’s advice on being productive…
‘Try not to worry about the small things.’
“We have so much small stuff that overwhelms us, and we wind up using our time on it, like email. Most of us look at email every three to five minutes. Instead, look every hour or two, and when you do look, look only at subject matter and sender,” says Pozen.
You probably already have a lot on your to-do list, checking your emails every five minutes will only increase your stress levels as you see more and more potential tasks that could be added to that list. So the lesson we could probably all learn from this is that if you spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘checking’ you’ll get more done.
…In the morning. Pozen states that by selecting your outfits ahead of the week and planning what to have for breakfast each morning there’s less room for decision making, resulting in less time wasted per week than if you didn’t plan. It’s worth noting, this doesn’t mean the outfits or the breakfast itself need to be boring, just that they are planned in advance.
He uses President Obama as a case study for this: “Obama would travel with a few blue suits so he wouldn’t be bogged down with fashion choices. Take the variables out of your routine.”
Whether you like his advice or not, it’s something to consider. Is the answer to becoming more productive simply checking emails less frequently, or perhaps planning outfits for the week ahead is what it takes to kick-start your day?
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