It’s Cyber Monday. The world is hard at work…at work…pretending to work, while secretly trolling Amazon for the best deals. For the first time in a long time, I am not joining them in the thrill of the deal chase. I have more than enough, which is a reality I have recently been forced to confront. I spent a bulk of my free time this weekend purging the house, garage, and fridge, as well as those mystery drawers and closets where things get stuffed and then proceed to haunt you forever. (Thank you, Marie Kondo!)
Several days (and bags of crap) later, I’m feeling much better about things. My house no longer has any junky haunts. I can open closets without fearing the secrets stored within. Drawers and storage spaces are breathing easy. I can proceed into the glorious mayhem of the holidays without STUFF weighing on my mind.
Six months ago, I took a KonMari-ed approach to my workday. This time I wasn’t evaluating stuff, but chunks of time. Despite being a “creative,” I’m not someone who thrives on chaos. I want to manage my days – not the other way around. So I sat down and created a personal plan to make even the craziest of days work. These are a few of my top takeaways:
THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE EMAIL
I have found that if I can carve out a half hour of uninterrupted morning time, I can plow through my inbox, delete junk, respond as appropriate, and get to inbox zero before the start of my day. There are a lot of productivity experts who advise against kick starting the day with emails, but for me, not having a full inbox lingering over my head at the onset sets me up for a productive and happy work day.
BATCHING WORK (HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU EMAILS)
I’d venture to say that most of us are not getting paid to respond to emails. Most of us have deliverables that require some degree of focus, attention, and creativity. That can feel impossible to do when emails and Slack messages are dinging in every two minutes throughout the day. I’ve found that embracing the “batch approach” really helps with this.
There are a million theories on batching, but the core concept is pretty simple: the human brain just isn’t at its best when you’re splitting it between tasks and spinning several plates. Batching = focusing on one, single tasks and hammering it out. No deviations, no interruptions, no exceptions. Ask any batcher and they will eagerly sing the praises of increased productivity and efficiency.
The only scary part about batching is that it inherently challenges our people-pleasing core. It means pushing a pause button on immediate email responses – and requires a new level of patience from folks on the other end.
I set email blocks every few hours of the day. 8 am, 12, 3 and 5. With Slack, I try to resist the urge when I’m actively working and check in with messages when I’m shifting gears between meetings or projects.
BID BYE TO WIFI
Perhaps the scariest productivity point of all: you are the master of your own wifi connection – and only one disconnect away from a block of totally uninterrupted productivity. In moments when I really need to jam to meet a deadline, flipping off wifi for a couple hours does the trick. If you find yourself struggling with willpower to stay focused and avoid distraction (those Slack dings can be so alluring…), cut the wifi. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done in a short time. And don’t worry. There’s always texts, phone calls and carrier pigeons…
How do you stay productive?