More fun and more productivity in three easy steps!

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November 14, 2011 by pmilleredu

Have more fun and be more productive in three easy steps:

Regardless of what we do ability and productivity will always be on the scarce side of the demand curve. We will never be able to get as much done as we want to and once we become more productive we just come up with more things to do.

I have done three things that have helped break me out of that cycle by helped me become more productive and have more fun at work. They are easy in theory and practice and do require dedication and a few small changes.

  1. Carve out some time and guard it like a hawk from meetings. Make this time your own. This is the hardest to actually keep in check. It is so easy to say that this meeting is important and that this week will be the exception where I schedule meetings. However, soon every week becomes the exception and soon that time is no longer yours. For me I keep one day a week that I control. I do this because we all have work outside of meetings that we need to do, but we never really leave ourselves actual time to do that work. At the beginning of the semester I block one whole day off and keep that free from meetings. It is easily my most productive day. I know that many of you are probably thinking “there is no way MY schedule will allow for a protected day”. Well I guarantee you it can as long as you start it out that way. After two years of these protected days, there are very few things that will ever creep into them and I consider those an important part of how I accomplish my job. I am able to work how I work best, and do what I need to do. It is liberating, fulfilling and VERY productive. Even if you are not yet comfortable carving out a full day, pick the morning on one day to protect. If you make it the afternoon your morning To-dos will easily creep on in. I have three things that I do on my protected days in addition to getting my other work done: I pick one thing I can improve on, reflect on it and form an action plan; I do a weekly review where I cover what I need to get done and make sure I am staying ahead of my organization; and I also read for an hour before work. These three things have helped me immensely to grow as professional.
  2. Spend the extra money on the nicer pen and notebook. This may seem strange and potentially fiscally irresponsible but stay with me. In an age where it is so easy to slip into our digital lives and multi-task on our iThings, this will keep you engaged and does make work more fun. Productivity expert David Allen spoke about how much productivity can improve simply by buying a new non-digital toy. I spring for the nicer pens because they are fun to write with. I am known by many of my colleagues as someone who owns nice pens. I have even gotten a late night phone call from one of them who wanted to know the name of that pen they borrowed from me. So spend the extra money on a nice pen and nicer paper. You will want to write with them and the extra fun factor will help you be more creative. If you need suggestions for some good pens let me know, or if you have a favorite let me know too, I am always looking for my next non-digital toy.
  3.  Make your workplace and schedule about your strengths. This came from one of my morning reflections when I asked myself how I can be more productive in utilizing my top 5 strengths. This led me to change my schedule around. My top 5 are Achiever, Strategic, Adaptability, Input & Learner. This is why I now read for an hour to start my Mondays. I go to the coffee shop around 7:30am until the start of my work day. This greatly satisfies the learner and input and supercharges the strategic in me for that day. I have something to think about and include into my professional practices. This is easily the least structured of the three to do, and an easy way to start this is by asking yourself what it was like the last time you were “in the zone. We all know what those days feel like; they feel great and we feel fulfilled. Why not dig a bit deeper about what caused that and start applying a few small changes so you can have more days “in the zone”.

These three things helped me have a lot more fun, be more productive, and be more fulfilled at work. I jump-start my weeks with a more proactive problem-solving mentality. These are all good things and all improved by small changes I have made over time.

Have an easy productivity tip of your own? Make sure and share it so we can all have more fun AND be more productive. Put these three practices into work and you will see results and then think back on how you ever got by without them.

Thanks for reading,

Paul Miller…


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