9 Guidelines for Productivity at Work
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What are some simple steps we can take to maximize our productivity at work? Focusing specifically on our productivity at work I’ve received a few emails in the last couple of months asking really good questions about being productive at work. I’ve been pondering this for a few weeks. Obviously our work--whether we’re employees, bosses, professionals, or volunteers--is a really important part of our life. You might have noticed that I don’t often talk specifically about productivity at work--although I have devoted a small handful of episodes to it. (Check out TPW288 - Adjusting to Working from Home; TPW258 - Workplace Productivity; TPW389 - Workplace Productivity)  Part of the reason I don’t often focus specifically on productivity at work is it’s hard to address in a way that will be broadly applicable. There are so many variables, in terms of the kinds of workplaces and the workplace roles. Work can encompass everything from part-time work in service industries like food service, hospitality, retail, and childcare to full-time work in traditional professional roles like nurses, doctors, lawyers, executive assistants, educators, and so much more. Many of us run our own businesses; others work from home in jobs across the spectrum. It can be difficult to talk about workplace productivity in a way that captures the huge variety of scenarios  Yet in most cases, the same principles of productivity apply regardless of where you work or what kind of work you do. Today I’m sharing some of the principles and tips that have helped me in my work life, whether in my current career as a lawyer or in my past jobs as a pastry baker and deli cook, office assistant, or fast food restaurant manager. 1. Get to work early This gives you the chance to start the day on an un-rushed footing, perhaps to get some priority work done before interruptions begin. 2. Do your best to establish a reputation as someone who can be relied on for consistent, quality work, even to go above and beyond Good for the future of your career, of course. Also, though, makes it more likely that you’ll be given some grace if/when those times come up when you need an accommodation 3. Be strategic about managing communications Email is an essential tool, yet in some ways the bane of our professional existence (interruptions; floods of emails to wade through, other people’s to-do list for us). Conventional wisdom is to only check email twice a day--e.g., mid-morning after you’ve spent some of that first morning time on priority work, and mid-afternoon. Some of us can’t do that, though, because the nature of our work is such that we often need to be responding quickly (e.g., me when a closing is in progress). In that case, you can at least assign certain hours of the day when you don’t check email; time allocated to priority tasks; might not be the same time every day, but everybody can find some time slots each week. Also, use the tools your email program provides for archiving, searching, auto-replying, etc. When it comes to phone calls and meetings, to the extent you have control, batch them. Try to keep one day a week (or at least a half day each week) with no meetings. Consider whether you can turn off your phone ringer and schedule certain times each day to return phone calls. Consider establishing office hours. College educators do this, and it can be valuable for others as well. One of my partners who works with a distributed team has established office hours-...
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