Busy. A word that can quite easily be overused in the working world. There are always people who, no matter when you ask them how their day has been or how they are, their response will be something like the following, 'Very busy', 'Non-stop', 'Manic', and then they will run off in a mad dash looking frantic and rushed.
These are the busy people.
And yes, these people probably are very busy but in the true sense of 2016, how productive are they?
Last Friday afternoon, somebody asked me how my day was and I did exactly what I have just described above. I was telling the truth, my day had felt very busy but when I got to 5.30pm I realised that although I felt like I hadn't stopped, I hadn't managed to get half of my 'To Do' list finished. Not something that sits well with me.
After my brief moment of reflection, I realised that being busy and productive (everyone's new favourite word) are actually quite different things. Sometimes the busiest days are the least productive. We have all had days where we have had to jump from meeting to meeting and you get to the end of the day to realise that your 'to do' list has doubled instead of halved. Sound familiar?
Now, being busy is a good thing and I imagine most of us would rather be very busy than sat at our desks twiddling our thumbs. But the point is, how can we make sure that when we are 'busy' we are also being productive.
Here are 5 tips that can help make this happen...
Yes, that's right, exercise. I could almost hear some of you saying that you don't have time as I typed the sub-heading. The truth is, we all have 20 spare minutes during our day that we could use for exercise and it is a well-known fact that exercise keeps both the body and mind relaxed and focussed. I sound like a hippy don't I?!
Even if you go for a short walk during your lunch break, you will feel so much more focussed when you return for the afternoon.
Don't try to be productive all day
Being productive 24/7 is impossible, no matter how hard you try. Everyone has a different part of the day that they find most productive. Find yours and if you can, tailor your schedule around this.
Learn to focus - introducing the Pomodoro technique!
For those of you that struggle to focus on one task at a time, try this. It can feel a little brutal but it is effective. Start by identifying a task that you need to complete, give yourself 20 minutes to work on it. If something distracts you (email, the smell of the coffee machine, social media) reset the timer and start your 20 minutes again. How many Pomodoro's can you complete in a day?
Don't talk changes, make them
Busy people are notorious for saying that they need to change some of their habits but they aren't always the best at actually making those changes. Think about what you can do now that requires the approval of nobody else? What can you do with the existing resources, knowledge and support that you have? Do these things, they are the quick wins and will provide you with the motivation that you need to get some of the tougher tasks/changes started.
The flow is not always the way to go
Spontaneity is something that should be present in people's lives but when it comes to work management it is important to organise our time as well as possible. Going with the flow, so to speak, can often result in work piling up, decreased productivity and increased levels of stress. Make a good working plan to improve your productive time and the chance you have of success. Creating short and long-term goals can often help with the start of this process. What are your priorities?
So, if like me, you ever feel that busy days impact your productivity, just take a step back, think about your priority tasks and try introducing some of the above into your day to day routine.
Let me know if they help!