A Little Effort Can Spell P-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-V-E Days

by Judy Camp

We all want to spend less time and accomplish more. To achieve that, the name of the game is productivity. Being organized can make or break your career. Here's how to maximize your own productivity...

Prioritize...Make a list each day of things you hope to accomplish. Mark the most important items with a symbol, like a red check mark. If you cannot proceed until receiving information from another person, mark the person's initials next to the item. Throughout the day, a simple glance at the marks you have made to the left of the items will let you know what needs to be acted on next (or who to give a reminder that you are still waiting on them). Find the time you need to do this, and it will pay off.

Relax...Don't overact when things go wrong. Assume that some thing will go wrong, and regard it as another challenge. When estimating the amount of time it will take to do a project, add about 20% for "aggravation time." That is vital to successful project management. Remember to take a break when you just can't think anymore.

Open up to new ideas...Taking the time to organize your work area can save a great deal of time later on. Learn a new computer program or attend a seminar. Project yourself into an ideal future to help you decide what additional skills you should develop.

Delegate...Be sure to rely on supportive office help, if it is available to you These are valuable people who deserve good treatment. Take the time to develop your support staff, and be as clear as possible about what you want. Remember to praise them often. This will save you countless hours later on, and raise the quality of your work.

Uninterrupted time...A large project may never get done if you are constantly interrupted with minor things. Try to set up some time each day for uninterrupted time. Try not to take calls, ask that minor questions be held for later, and close the door, if possible. Sometimes an entire department can earmark a quiet hour. No one talks to each other, and no calls come in during this hour. Outside of work, too, quiet time is important, so you can reflect on your priorities.

Criticize less..Everyone's work will improve if you can focus more on what you are doing than criticizing the work of others (unless that is your job). When criticism is necessary, try to do it kindly. Others need to continue to be productive too, and kindness keeps the motivation high.

Try not to procrastinate. If you have something you know you should do and keep putting it off, find the best time of day and...just do it! Thinking about it sometimes becomes a way to avoid it. Then action is what is called for. You can always improve on the first draft later.

Identify time wasters...Watch for those nasty details that take hours to work out. If you suspect one coming, stop before you get too far into it and consider whether there are quicker alternatives to solving the problem. Maybe someone else handles this type of thing routinely and could solve the problem in a matter of minutes. This avoids "reinventing the wheel" needlessly.

Variation...To keep yourself from getting bored with your job, try to initiate a little variation. Tasks usually fall into categories of easy, hard, boring, or fun. Varying the order of the tasks will provide a balance in your routine.

Enthusiasm...When you first chose this career path, you doubtlessly felt a lot of enthusiasm for the work. As much as possible, try to recapture this enthusiasm. Compliment others on their work, keeping their enthusiasm alive as well. Feeling good about what you do is the very best guarantee of productivity.


Judy Camp is the author of the book, Find Time for What You Love, which contains dozens of ways to find extra time in each day, and to find ways to spend that time that will catapult you toward your ideal life!

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