Productivity and time management are two of the most important stepping stones to achieving your goals, yet many people believe that working long hours and sacrificing free time are the only ways to get there.
In this month’s “Just Ask TCI” virtual program, we heard from experts Erika Twani, CEO of Learning 1 to 1, and Carol Hindsman, IT Director of Ryder Systems, who shared their advice on how to reach higher levels of productivity and better manage your time.
1. Have the Right Attitude
For Carol Hindsman, having the right attitude is the secret to unlocking your full potential and boosting your productivity. “Having the right attitude gives you 100% focus on what you have to achieve,” she says. “From there, you have to have the energy to accomplish your goals, which means you have to have a good night’s sleep and a balanced diet to sustain the amount of work that it takes to be productive.”
If you’ve been accustomed to burning the midnight oil and eating on the run, your body and mind aren’t going to be equipped to do the work you need them to do. So start with making some important lifestyle changes to help you get the attitude and mindset you need to succeed.
2. Minimize Distractions
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not always the best way to get things done. Trying to do too many things at once takes your focus off of each individual task, making you less productive and lowering the quality of the work that you’re doing.
Instead of multitasking, Erika Twani suggests grouping tasks so that you understand how much time and what resources you need to make sure everything on your list gets done. “Personally, I separate chunks of tasks into different groups,” says Twani. “This makes them easier to tackle instead of trying to solve everything at the same time and not having a clear definition of what activities you have to do to reach your goal.”
3. Get Organized
Having a clear mind goes along with having the right attitude to maximize your productivity, and part of clearing your headspace is to become organized. This could mean organizing your physical office space, your tasks, and your virtual spaces like email, calendars, and files.
“Knowing what needs done and when is half the battle,” says Hindsman. “I take action within five minutes of realizing that I have to do something. If I need to provide documentation, set a reminder, or put a meeting on the calendar, I try to get it done immediately to help me stay organized and effective.”
4. Set Clear Goals and Expectations for Yourself
Being productive and efficient doesn’t necessarily mean working 14-hour days and getting 200+ tasks accomplished each day. Erika Twani emphasizes the importance of setting clear expectations and goals for yourself to keep your work on track. “Define what productivity is for you,” she says, “then set clear goals on how to achieve that and in what amount of time.”
Prioritization is another important aspect of productivity. “Start with the things that are going to give you the most for your time and prioritize those,” says Hindsman. “Know what to delegate to others and even when to say ‘no’ to things.”
5. Use the Right Tools
One of the beauties of technology is that it provides us with a wide range of tools available to stay organized and efficient. A few of the favorite tools that the women in this month’s Just Ask use themselves are:
- Microsoft outlook
- Google calendar
- One Note
- Quick Notes
- Todoist app
- Zoom video chat
- Dual computer monitors
6. Anticipate Unexpected Tasks
Unexpected to-do items will almost always pop up in the middle of the day, so allocate some extra time into your schedule for last-minute phone calls or other unexpected tasks.
“Always have a plan A, B, and C ready, just in case,” says Twani. “Emotionally, we get desperate if we don’t have a backup plan. And when you’re desperate, you can make the wrong decision. If you have plans A, B, and C, execution will happen beautifully.”
7. Self Reflect
Understanding how you function and what you can do to improve your own productivity are keys to success. “I function better in the morning,” says Twani, “so that’s when I do things that require lots of thinking and concentration. In the afternoon, I schedule meetings and phone calls and answer emails.”
Erika Twani also suggests reviewing what you did and did not accomplish at the end of each day so you can plan a more effective plan for tomorrow. “Make sure you’re happy at the end of the day,” she says. “Don’t be so busy all the time that you’re completely unhappy and exhausted. Continuously evaluate within yourself to see if what you’re doing each day is what you really want. If you’re not happy, something must change.”
Join Us Next Time!
Be sure to join us next month, on Friday, August 17thfrom noon to 1:00, for our “Just Ask TCI” virtual series on digital marketing. Remember, this series is free and open to the public, so feel free to join in on the discussion during your lunch break and learn from and support other women in technology!