Are You Really as Productive as You Think You Are?

If you think you’re “on top of it” day to day – you could be fooling yourself – you may not be as productive as you’d like to believe. Chances are your inbox is full of e-mails that require your attention – and, those cyber messages are getting buried by the onslaught that arrive with each passing hour. So, how do you manage your pending e-mail requests? Is tackling those messages on your “to-do” list today? Do you even have a “to-do” list?
Consider your morning routine once you’ve booted up and logged in. Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and Linked In connection requests are merely distractions. These should be avoided at the beginning of the work day as the trappings of social media will throw you completely off track. Meaningful productivity relies upon self-discipline, organization, and focus on tackling the day’s priorities.

Some people are better than others when it comes to managing their work habits. I like to consider myself organized and somewhat methodical in how I approach productivity – at least 75% of the time. Over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies for myself:

  1. My most important is the “Sacred Six.” The Sacred Six is a list of “must do’s” for the day. Nothing can get in the way of completing those tasks – I plow through and eliminate each item on the day’s inventory – these are the priorities and the Sacred Six keeps me in line.
  2. E-mail is both a business blessing and a curse. I probably get 50 or more a day, and I’ve implemented the “Yesterbox,” made popular by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. Before I open any new e-mail in the morning – I look back at what was unopened from yesterday and take action. Forward, answer, delete. Managing the Yesterbox keeps the e-mail communication clean, reflective, and timely. For the day’s e-mail – I check my inbox for “high priorities” at 8 am, noon, and 5 pm. All other times of the day, my e-mail is turned off to avoid distraction. I highly recommend it.
  3. Finally, a huge barrier to productivity and the biggest time suck of the day is a long DC commute. Hours spent getting in and out of the District are just something you can’t get back. One of the smartest moves I made was relocating my business from Massachusetts Avenue, NW, to Oronoco Street in Old Town Alexandria. I probably save 90 minutes a day.

Implementing a few organizational tactics can clear the cob webs and make you a more productive professional. In fact, these approaches may actually lend to having a little more time on your hands.