It’s natural for our productivity to ebb and flow. We go back and forth heavy workloads and lighter days. However, despite the workload, we have direct control over how we show up and execute what’s on our plate.
To be clear, I’m not referring to productivity as a stressed out and overreaching approach. The idea isn’t to be constantly “busy” or finding even more time for work. Peak productivity is having a controlled and focused approach to accomplishing only your most important items.
So, how we accomplish peak productivity? We do so by identifying pain points and finding straightforward solutions. I dive deeper in my new course at thepriorityprocess.com/course but this week, I’m outlining the key principles.
This week, I want you to focus on accomplishing peak performance! Here’s how -
Have you ever started a new day and realized you don’t know where to begin your work?
Do you start with projects that need to get done?
What about requests from your manager?
Should you check emails first thing or later on, maybe just leave it open in case something important pops up?
It can all be overwhelming.
One reason our work life can feel so overwhelming is that we haven’t identified all the inputs that influence what we need to work on.
Here are the 3 areas to focus on -
Role and Job Demands
Company Goals and Objectives
Take the time today to flesh out the inputs into your workstream since they will drive how you prioritize. Inputs to your priorities are one of the first areas I tackle in my new Priority Process Course. It’s foundational to understanding what drives the work you need to get done.
Tuesday: Email Management
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
You’re working on a task and then you get an email notification.
Oh, it’s important, you quickly open the email and take a few minutes to reply.
You lost your train of thought so, you need a few minutes to restart your task.
Another email notification goes off.
It’s hard to focus and get important work done when emails are constantly distracting us.
Don’t get me wrong emails have become a necessary tool in today’s working world.
It’s STILL distracting.
So, how can we preserve our focus and limit the distraction -
Pick specific times to work on your email every day, put it on your calendar
During scheduled email time address requests with immediate response (2 mins or less reply)
Transfer more involved requests to a list of tasks, DO NOT work from your inbox
Take the time today to set up when you’ll work on your emails and set reminders to keep your email client closed outside of that time.
Wednesday: Priority Management 1
Seriously, how do you get work done every day? Here’s how it used to go for me -
Review the emails in my inbox and work on the most important items.
Then, I’d start to get a lot of emails, so I’d pick the easy stuff to keep my emails low.
Then, I’d remember about requests I got over the phone or in-person and do those too.
Whenever I had meetings or projects I’d have to fit that work in too at some point.
This wasn’t the most effective way of getting work done and I wasn’t being very productive.
If any of that sounds familiar to you, here’s how you can improve how you working starting today -
All of your tasks and requests must be captured in one list, not your email inbox. It will take time, it’s WORTH it.
Pick your most important task (PRIORITY) and only work on that item (multitasking is the devil).
This is one of the most important actions you can take to improve your productivity. Capturing a complete list of all you need to do and choosing to only work on one priority at a time.
Thursday: Priority Management 2
One of the fastest paths towards a lack of productively is misalignment. Here’s what I mean -
Working towards a deadline that has changed or is no longer relevant.
Creating reports that no one ends up reading.
Prioritizing activities that are not feeding into your results.
While frustrating, these occurrences are not uncommon and they are often driven by poor communication.
Here are 3 ways you can take ownership and reduce these occurrences -
Regular (weekly, if necessary) Accountability and Alignment meeting with immediate manager
Seek feedback regularly to assess the impact of your work
Confirm whether long term strategies and ongoing work are still adding value
If you already have a regular one on ones with your manager, you can ensure that alignment becomes the cadence within that meeting starting today. Also, start to identify key resources that can offer quick, actionable feedback on your work.
Executing a clear strategy to keep communication flowing is crucial.
Friday: De-railers and Recovery
Have you ever noticed how bad habits will undermine your progress? Here are a few instances that I have to watch out for -
Completing requests that are outside of my priorities.
Leaving my email client open and getting distracted by notifications.
Keeping my head in the sand, and working without any feedback.
Failure is going to happen. Let’s get that out the way. At some point, something will come up will throw us off balance and undermine our productivity.
However, here are a few ways you can recover starting today -
Identify your key stressor (looming deadline, vacation work pile up), clear a portion of your calendar and attack that item
Try coming into work an hour early (or stay an hour late) to organize your inbox, task list, and calendar
Review workload with your manager, outline all commitments, review available time and reprioritize what needs to get done
Missteps and failures are inevitable, they absolutely will happen. And, it’s critical that we understand that we can take actions to get back on track proactively. I go into more detail in my new Priority Process Course and you can find it, here.