Back to the Basics – 5 Tips for Productivity
Being new to the marketing firm world, one of the biggest changes for me has been tracking my time. Before joining Mangold Creative, I never realized how much time could be lost in one work day. Poof. Gone. Just like that it’s 5 p.m. and I’ve accomplished what?
Getting into a daily routine and figuring out how to stay focused on one task at a time has been a learning experience for me, and I don’t think I’m alone on this one. I’ll warn you now, I haven’t come up with any life-changing ideas…but if you’re struggling with productivity, here are a few things to help keep you on track throughout the day.
- Create To-Do Lists. We use an awesome project management program, which generates a detailed task list with descriptions, deadlines, etc. But there’s nothing wrong with creating a good ole’ fashioned To-Do list. Jotting down the main tasks you want to complete throughout the day will be a constant reminder for you when you glance down at your desk. I’ve learned that Post-Its will never go out of style and there’s something very rewarding about crossing off “to-dos” once they’re complete.
- Take a Break. Take advantage of breaks and lunch hours. While it may seem unproductive to get away from what you’re doing, you just might find that you’re much more successful after walking away and taking a breather. Our brains are like computers, they need to be cooled down, restarted, and even shut down every once and awhile in order to stay efficient.
- Don’t Force It. Whether you’re writing an article, designing a brochure, or even drafting an email, if the creative juices aren’t flowing – don’t force it. You can stare at the blank computer screen all day, but that won’t make the words appear any faster. I’ve found that moving on to something else, taking a break, and coming back to the challenging task later on is most effective. Plus, there’s nothing more unproductive then forcing yourself to throw together sloppy work. You’ll be back recreating it in no time.
- Ask Questions. Coming into a new workplace, I’ve been reminded of how important asking questions can be. I’ll be the first to admit that interrupting coworkers isn’t enjoyable, but it’s almost always worth it. Wasting 20 minutes trying to find that file that was in front of you the whole time, or cranking out a design piece that doesn’t follow the job standards is unbelievably unproductive. The few minutes it takes to ask a question, get an answer, and get back to work, will make up for a whole lot of wasted time trying to do something on your own. As smart as we all might be, we can’t know it all. Give yourself credit for the stuff you do know, and ask questions about what you don’t.
- Close Social Media & Email. We all know that we’re living in the digital age. Technology is on fire, and we have access to email, the internet, and social media with the simple click of a mouse. While it’s amazing, it can also be a huge distraction and can cause us to get side-tracked in seconds. Closing your email or internet browser while you’re trying to bust out a project is a great way to stay focused. The Facebook notifications aren’t going anywhere and the emails can be replied to later. Plus, if someone really needs to get ahold of you, we still have these wonderful things called phones.
I’ve always considered myself pretty focused and efficient while at work, but tracking exactly what I’m doing throughout the day has been an eye-opener for me. I haven’t found the magic trick yet (I’ll be sure to share it with you when I do!), but these five things have brought me back to the basics and helped me stay on track. And if I’ve learned anything thing so far, it’s that productivity can always be improved upon.