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Workplace Productivity: It’s About Your Mindset

Joe Galazzo

August 30, 2016
Joe Galazzo

In my last Insight Tuesday, I discussed how to ramp up your productivity with 3 simple tools, and while productivity tools can help personal and team productivity, there is a still mindset shift that needs to take place. Here are some personal tips that I use every day in the workplace to stay efficient and save company time.

Meetings

Nobody really likes them, they happen too often, and the meeting length is usually too long. Before setting a meeting, first ask yourself if the meeting could just be an email. If the purpose is just an FYI, or an update, an email should do the trick. If you believe a meeting is necessary (such as a brainstorming session), be sure to only include the critical members on the project.

Also think about the meeting length. Don’t let Outlook dictate how long your meetings should be. It’s easy to choose from Outlook’s default dropdown options set in 30 minute increments, but go the extra step and type in a custom time, such as 20 or 45 minutes, rather than 30 minutes or one hour. Try making your start times unique and memorable, such as 10:10 AM. This will help your colleagues show up on time.

Last, but not least, make it known that when you run a meeting, phones and laptops stay outside the room (the exception is for the person taking notes and assigning next steps). A meeting free of smart phones and laptops will ensure everyone pays attention, the meeting is efficient, and you are out on time.

Take scheduled breaks

A very underrated and easy practice is taking scheduled breaks. If you are constantly feeling you are working on fumes, try working in uninterrupted blocks of 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks. This is called the Pomodoro Technique. Learn more about it here.

Treat email like a to-do list

Email shouldn’t be scary or overwhelming. Let your inbox become a mini to-do list. I have applied a simple rule: don’t let the inbox have more than 10 emails in it at once. It’s the “Inbox Zero” mindset, and many times my inbox is completely empty.

I have taken some amazing advice from productivity expert, Ari Meisel (@AriMeisel) and now apply the following principles to email:

  • When I no longer need an email, I simply archive it. Most email services have an archive button that will remove the email from your inbox, but won’t delete it.
  • If something will take 2 minutes or less, I reply and then archive to get it off my plate.
  • If I don’t have time to take action, I defer it to a better time and then archive it. Deferring email can be achieved with built-in reminder functionality, or with services like Boomerang or Followupthen.
  • I have created an “Optional” folder and have filters set up for buzz words you find in marketing and promotional emails. For example, if an email has the word “unsubscribe” in the body of the email, it skips my inbox and goes into an “optional” folder. Now important emails from clients, colleagues, family and friends are not buried under “deal of the week” or contest emails.
  • I have email notifications OFF and check email during a specified time, such as the first 10 minutes of every hour. Email is not meant to be a “sky is falling” type of communication. Checking email in batches allows me to stay focused and not get distracted from desktop notifications or constant dings on my smart phone.

These tips are not “one size fits all.” I wouldn’t recommend trying everything at once, but would certainly start with a few of the easier ideas from above, commit to it for a few weeks, and then build from there.