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A Simple Kind of Work Life

The success and productivity of any organization rests heavily on the personal productivity of its employees, and so, we happily dedicate this post to “getting things done.” While there is and will never be a productivity silver bullet – we are, after all, a vast collection of individuals whose frames of reference span decades, geography, technology and cultures – there are ways to assess how effective your organizational and time management strategies are and in effect how well they provide clarity.

When refining your time management strategies, consider what factors motivate most: Are you deadline-driven? Are you visual? Do you like checking items off your To Do list? What behaviors best jog your memory?

Whether go-to methods involve pen and paper, E-mail, calendars, tasks, software, or some combination of the above; and whether you separate personal from professional or live a one life, one calendar philosophy, it’s important to assess and refine your processes, to secure both your sanity and the confidence others have in your work. But, how do you know if your personal productivity system needs refining?

  • Projects are consistently late, incomplete or ineffective. When work doesn’t meet standards and requirements as determined by you and your supervisors, explore alternate organizational methods. Ask others whose work you admire what systems they have in place. While those systems may not work well for you, exploring options and understanding varying models may help you find the right solution.
  • You don’t trust your system. While worst case scenario is that others notice errors in your work, another cause for concern is that you do. If you regularly create backup systems or often beat yourself up about low priority tasks you’re not getting to, you don’t trust the mechanisms you have in place to keep you on track.
  • You feel overwhelmed. Your system should relax you and provide the experience of control. While some degree of stress in a challenging position is expected and can be healthy, if you feel overwhelmed daily, examine ways to organize tasks in an actionable form. Realistically outline what projects can be completed in your preferred timeline, allowing for some flexibility. And focus: while some laud the ability to multi-task, many studies have emerged on how it can negatively impact productivity.
  • You spend too much time on the wrong tasks. If you’re spending hours a day documenting and tracking your activities rather than completing them, or are heavily entrenched in administrative tasks, there might be a better way. Consider which systems and processes you can consolidate and automate, and what tasks add value to the projects that are of highest priority to your organization.
  • It feels forced. Don’t feel guilty abandoning time management systems that no longer suit your needs. You don’t have to keep a digital day-to-day calendar because you formerly used a paper-based journal. While some project management tools may be required of you in the workplace, you can supplement with solutions that are custom-built by you and that suit your skills and needs.