We asked colleagues and facilitators to share their best productivity ‘hack’. Try some of the methods that we use to help keep us on track.
- Don’t be a slave to your inbox! We’ve been brainwashed to monitor our inbox constantly and jump to answer email as soon as it lands – even if the sender doesn’t expect an immediate response. When you need to stay focused, turn on your out of office message and close your email. It can feel very liberating not to see that little envelope appear or hear the ping of a new email – you stay focused on what’s important, and your email application manages the expectations of the sender. The key to a good out of office message is to tell people when they can expect a reply and give them a method to contact you if it’s an emergency. This hack isn’t for every day, but when you need to focus – it’s fantastic. Here is our favourite out of office message:
I’m working offline today on a few deliverables. I will respond to your email within 24 hours. If this is urgent, please drop by my office or call me XXX-XXX-XXXX.
- Reward yourself. A little incentive goes a long way to keep yourself focused and on track. A popular technique with our facilitators, they suggest you decide how far you want to advance on your project or task, and then how you will reward yourself for getting there. It could be as simple as taking a break to go for a walk or treating yourself to coffee.
- Schedule a meeting with yourself. Take the stress out of finding time to get things done. Invite yourself to a meeting with the project or task in the subject line, then treat it with the same priority you would a meeting someone else organized. The uninterrupted block of time will allow you to focus on the project or task at hand.
Take a break. Really. Studies have shown that taking breaks helps reduce mental fatigue and improve your focus. Take a few minutes outside or get yourself some water. Even if you sit and let your mind wander for a few minutes, the break allows your brain to refresh and replenish your mental resources.