5 Productivity Secrets Everyone Should Know
This article was written with Certified Public Accountants in mind. There is such great information, these are tips everyone can use at their desk and in their office to become more productive. We are all pushing papers around a cluttered desk. If information doesn't litter our desks then chances are they litter our desktop computer. You needn't struggle with time management, paper management, your emails and your workday. Here are five productivity secrets everyone should know.
When most people hear that you’re a CPA, they probably think you do taxes and push papers. The truth is that CPAs are busy throughout the year with much more than taxes. There’s never an off season.
What if you could get the same amount of work done and still get home for dinner at a reasonable time? It’s possible for you because I was able to squeeze an 8-hour workday into 5 hours in order to indulge my love of surfing and be at the beach by 2pm each day.
The goal here is to introduce techniques that you can implement right away that will make a difference in the way you work.
People often think that being organized and productive is about picking the right technology. In fact, habits are your most powerful productivity tool. Sleep, exercise, diet, and mindfulness are also very important. If you’re tired at work, no productivity app is going to make up for that.
Here are five simple, yet powerful, ways to get the most out of your workday:
1. Time Blocking
Your brain can only handle about 90 minutes of focused and concentrated work. Imagine doing lunges for 90 minutes – your legs would be screaming. Giving your brain a rest allows you to focus better during the time you work.
Work in 90 minute intervals, with a short 3-5 minute break every half hour or so, then a longer 10-30 minute break between every 90-minute session.
A break does not mean you switch over to email or social media. A true break involves getting up from your desk and stretching at the very least. Make sure you have enough water, take a short walk, get a snack.
Remember your body is a biological machine and needs proper maintenance to operate at full capacity. Think about it like NASCAR – even though the race is long, the driver makes pit stops every so often, then kicks it back into high gear to win the race.
As for your email, social media, and other minutiae that you need to tackle at some point – set aside a work session for that purpose rather than being distracted by it throughout your day.
2. Desk Inbox
We all have email inboxes but very few of us have an inbox on our desks. Even though we are going paperless, paperless doesn’t mean paper gone or paper none. There will still be paperwork that comes onto your desk, and you need to be able to manage that paperwork.
Have a receptacle at your desk that collects incoming paper. Then have a way to organize it so that you can find and work through those papers quickly and easily.
Think of your desk as prime real estate. I hear my clients say all the time “I’m going to put it on my desk for now.” This may keep the item top of mind, but before long the papers pile up and now you have a new job on your to-do list – going through your piles.
Get clear and intentional with how you organize your desk and your space. Remove everything from the surface, start fresh, only put back the things you love and are functional. When your desk is intentional, it looks good and feels great and you’re drawn to work there. Use the same principles for your computer desktop.
3. Simplified To-Do List
Most of us have a to-do list that is intimidatingly long. The psychological pressure of all the work hanging over our heads can be distracting and hurt productivity. Here’s an easy way to keep it under control:
Each morning, or at the end of the previous day, prioritize your inbox and to-do list, then pick the top three items to work on. To help yourself decide, say, “I could consider today a success if I completed ___, ___, and ___.”
Put the large to-do list away and keep only those top three items in front of you. Work on them until they’re done.
If they’re big projects, those may be the only task you get done that day, and that’s fine if they’re truly the highest priority.
If you have more time in your day, pick the next three priority tasks. Repeat until the end of your workday, then sit back and congratulate yourself on what a productive day you had.
4. Two Minutes or Less
This is my favorite technique because it’s a real game changer.
The idea is simple: If you can get it done in two minutes or less, get it done. Send it, sign it, fax it, click it, buy it, burn it, write it. Whatever you have to do. Move it off your desk and off your to-do list.
It’s great to alternate this technique with bigger projects that take a lot of time, because you get the satisfaction of feeling super productive when you knock a bunch of things off your to-do list.
5. Be Held Captive
This technique will help you finally get that big project done, the one that you keep getting distracted from or are procrastinating on because it’s just so daunting.
The secret is simple: Take your big project, pack it up and head out of the office. You can go to a coffee shop, a hotel room, the library, an office conference room – a place where you are out of your usual element and can’t be distracted or interrupted.
If you can’t find a way to physically leave the office, the next best thing is to shut your door with a Do No Disturb sign and turn off Wi-Fi.
Regardless of how naturally organized you are, simple techniques like these can make a big difference in your productivity when you turn them into regular habits. You can find more tips on my website at WaveProductivity.com/blog.
Pick your favorite and start enjoying the benefits today!
If you'd like to learn more about how you can be powerfully productive in your office. Join me for the workshop: The Secrets of Being Powerfully Productive. Maximize your focus, energy and productivity and increase your clarity to get things done. Wednesday, February 15, 2017 from 5-7pm. There is limited seating, please contact me for the event details.
Margo Brown is a Productivity Coach and Professional Organizer with Wave Productivity. She works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and business professionals to help them get more focused, organized and productive in their workplace. IShe serves the Tempe and Phoenix area in Arizona. If you want to get the chronic disorganization gone in your office call 602-677-8275 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.