Margo Crawford of Wave Productivity works with law professionals on productivity

Six Steps to Boost your Productivity

Strategies for Being Powerfully Productive This Year

“Six Steps to Boost Your Productivity” is an article that appeared in the Association of Legal Administrators Magazine back in February of this year. While the article is geared to the law profession, there are some great tips you can glean to become more focused, organized, and productive.

You walk into the office and the phone is ringing before you even have a chance to sit down. As you take the call, you realize the alarming number of emails you’ve received overnight. Looking at your schedule, it’s completely crammed with meetings and you’ll be working late…again. Your workday is filled with stress and you are not alone, in a 2023 Gallup poll 52% of regional workers reported feeling stressed, the highest levels in the world. The challenges to stay focused and productive throughout the workday may lead to burnout. Burnout comes from the grind of generating billable hours while balancing the needs of clients which creates added pressure. The catch-22 is that an administrator’s work and non-billable hours are difficult to take action on, yet necessary to stay in control of your work and be productive. Robb Leandro, Partner at Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein states “There is a continuous cycle of satisfying partners and current clients while still maintaining business development and a presence at networking events where a lost billable hour can have huge gains by acquiring new business. If you are in a constant grind and struggle to get things done then business development doesn’t happen and you lose.”

While it’s difficult to carve time to focus with so many competing tasks and interruptions, here are strategies you can implement now to help streamline your workload and boost your productivity even in the busiest of times.

Two minute Rule

If you can get it done in two minutes or less, get it done. This quick and easy technique is a game-changer. Sign it, send it, click it, buy it, delegate it, whatever the action, if you can get it done in two minutes or less get it off your plate. Whatever you have to do. Move it off your desk and off your to-do list – physical and mental lists. It’s great to alternate this technique with bigger projects that take a lot of time because you get the satisfaction of feeling productive when you knock a bunch of things off your to-do list.

Schedule in Advance

Start your day on the right foot by spending 10-15 minutes each morning prioritizing and planning your day. Target three top priorities to accomplish each day. It’s tempting to think you are going to get ten items knocked off your to-do list, but that rarely happens, and they may not be the most important items on your list.

Next, dig into your calendar and begin to block time for completing those specific tasks. Having a solid game plan in place will help you be less reactive and still be able to shift priorities quickly if an emergency comes up. Patrick Thacker, an Associate at Acito Klein & Candiloros, P.C. says “Preplanning is how I stay the most productive. I find that adding in buffer time between meetings as well as being prepared for all my meetings in advance helps me to have productive days.” By adding in buffer time and completing two-minute tasks you can better prepare for the upcoming court appearance, or you can take time to thoughtfully transition to your next task. As Thacker continues, without a plan for your day, you’ll find that you start the day scrambling and end the day wondering where all the time went. Planning his day allows him to be proactive and have a sense of accomplishment.

Limit Distractions

First, get clear on what is distracting you. Are you being interrupted by text messages? The constant ring alert from your emails? Or is it hunger and you need to take a break? Having an awareness about what is distracting you can be the first step to fixing it. The top distractions that people identify include social media and emails. Both can easily throw off your momentum. Using sites that block social media and websites you waste time on allows you to remain focused. Closing out extra browser tabs on your computer reduces the temptation to toggle between windows. These steps along with eliminating notifications will help decrease interruptions and create a better flow in your workday.

Match Your Energy to Your Tasks

Your energy levels dip and peak all through your workday. Work with your natural energy and rhythms throughout the day rather than pushing through projects and tasks. Spend a week or two tracking when you have high-energy times during your day. Once you have these high-energy times documented, use the information to schedule your peak times to maximize your biggest projects.

Stop Overwhelm

When you feel overwhelmed at work, the greater number of unhealthy choices you’re likely to make. In addition, being overwhelmed and overextended by your workload increases rates of absenteeism, presenteeism, and burnout. If you are feeling overwhelmed chances are you have not drilled down the next actionable step to work on. Break down larger tasks into smaller actionable steps. You’ll know when you have defined a clear actionable step because you will have confidence in moving forward with no hesitation.

Take Breaks

The brain can take about 90 minutes of concentration before it begins to move into lower levels of focus. After periods of focused concentration, take a break. Take regular breaks to re-energize your mind and body throughout the day. Think about what your optimal times in the day are to take a break and then schedule it into your calendar. Breaks are vital to the brain to recharge and allow you to reduce stress and burnout. Be sure to keep them short, less than 10 minutes in order to reap the full benefit. Use your breaks as a way to reward yourself for completing important tasks or as a transition from one task to another. Whether it’s meditating for 5 minutes or a quick walk around the office breaks help you clear your head so you can refocus and create a boost of energy.

Keeping on top of your workday can be a struggle. When you implement these techniques, you gain the upper hand on the impending tasks you have to complete. These small wins will allow you to have control over your workday so that you can have better days at work.

Margo Crawford is a Productivity Coach with Wave Productivity and works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and business professionals to help them get more focused and productive in their workplace. Margo is the author of Exploring Productivity. Margo and Wave Productivity has been presenting productivity techniques to businesses for 20+ years.