7 Pointers to Promote Productivity
Plenty of people promote a positive place of employment, and I am one of them! I really love where I work and can’t say enough about what a great organization it is. I work with amazing people, and I love being a part of a place that strives to change the world for good.
That being said, there are aspects of my work that can be challenging at times. I am continually balancing competing demands and various priorities from clients and colleagues in an organization where I am the only person who does what I do. Aside from the thousands of corporate trainers I offer support to, I directly support thirty account reps and collaborate with twenty-plus colleagues on an almost daily basis. The following are a few tips I have learned along the way to successfully manage productive workflow and competing priorities.
Plan. Take a few minutes each day to assess the things that absolutely need to get done. Write them down on a visible list with check-boxes you can mark after completing each item. Look at your schedule for the day and block out time to work on each one. Block out specific times to respond to emails, return phone calls, and communicate directly with colleagues.
Protect. Everyone has times that are more productive than others. Find out which times are your most productive throughout the day and protect that time. Use it to get your best work done, and avoid items that distract from your productivity. I am ashamed to admit that I was once distracted from a project to work on another task. Before finishing that task I was diverted to another objective. At the end of the day, I had worked on four different things and finished none of them. Don’t let coworkers interrupt you. Don’t answer emails. Don’t answer your phone. Very few items are so important that they can’t wait until a little later.
Prioritize. In his amazing book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey offers a time management matrix which allocates tasks to quadrants that are “Important” and “Not Important” as well as “Urgent” and “Not Urgent.” To me, not every email, call, or request I receive fits into my quadrant of Urgent/Important. However, for the client who is training tomorrow, the account rep who is trying to make a sale, or the colleague who wants feedback for an approaching project deadline, everything is urgent AND important. Take client, rep, and colleague requests into consideration as you plan your day, but don’t spend all your time putting out fires. As Covey explains, that only leads to burnout and stress.
Pass It On. One of the challenges of today’s workforce is being a team player. If you can help someone else, you should, right? From time to time, I receive a request that may fall in the realm of “not my job” but it is a task I can complete. Because it is a request I can fulfill and it seems easier to just do it myself, I have accidentally restricted myself by becoming the go-to guy for that issue. If someone else can do it, or should be doing it, then pass it on and let them do it.
Personalize. When you can, personalize interactions. Even though I have an automated signature, I still type my name at the end of every email. I walk to offices and leave hand-written notes. Learn, remember, and use people’s names. Discover what their specific needs are and deliver accordingly. As the situation allows, do little things for your clients to go the extra mile and exceed their expectations.
Personify. Remember that you work with people and people are not perfect. I once had a client who I communicated with over several emails. It seemed like all of their questions were ridiculous and their requests were redundant. They were really starting to annoy me. Then I received an invitation to connect with this client on LinkedIn. When I saw their profile picture, I realized that I knew this person, and I really liked them (stupid of me to not connect the name with the face). I felt awful about the thoughts I had been thinking and recall this situation whenever I have negative thoughts about a customer.
Prize Positivity. Do you believe that you can hear when people are smiling on the other side of the phone? I do. Remember, in any customer-facing position you are a performer putting on a show for your audience. Since you have to continually perform like you are the happiest person in the world, take time to find something simple that makes you happy. When you’re feeling down or sense that you need an energizer, take a couple of minutes for yourself. What you do is up to you. It could be a walk around the block, snatching a piece of chocolate from the front desk, or making a pit stop at the nearest soda fountain. Reward yourself for successes both big and small. You deserve it.
I sincerely hope that these ideas can have a positive impact on your work day. Feel free to comment and let me know which one stuck with you and made the biggest difference in reducing your stress level. When it comes to reducing stress and increasing positivity, one thing that always puts a smile on my face is Chuck Norris memes…