Friday, April 22, 2011

Improving Productivity, part 2

It's been almost 3 weeks since I turned off the pop-up email notifications in Outlook, and I haven't missed them at all! I highly recommend doing this. It makes me wonder how much work businesses lose due to these notifications alone. It's great to go through email in chunks instead of individually as each item arrives.

I did have to learn to remember to check my email more than once or twice a day, though. You get really used to those pop-ups, so when they don't arrive, you tend to forget you're still receiving email.

Another thing I started doing 3 weeks ago is scheduling out my entire workweek each Monday, in time blocks on my Outlook calendar. This takes some practice, and I usually fall off the schedule by sometime Tuesday. Thus far, I have learned:
  • to allot more time to a task than I expect it to take - that allows for emails and interruptions without throwing me way off my schedule. Also, I often expect things to take less time than they really do.
  • to take the schedule with a grain of salt. Things will come up, other duties will be assigned that have higher importance, and you just have to roll with it.
  • the schedule is great for prioritizing the more important tasks. In the past I've kept a to do list, but didn't have a prioritization mechanism. I still keep the to do list (I love crossing things off a list), but now I use it to plan my weekly schedule.
  • I don't always want to do what I've scheduled myself to do. I think over time I will get better at intermixing the things I like doing with those that I don't.
I don't really want to get into scheduling daily because it does take more time than just following the existing schedule, but it might be worthwhile to do it Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon (I work 1-9 on Wednesdays). I'm always somewhat off the schedule by Wednesday. Not to mention, our staff meeting is on Wednesday, and I usually leave with new projects to do, so a reevaluation would be good.

Despite the few bumps and learning experiences with the schedule, it really is working for me. Less time spent trying to figure out what I need to work on next is helpful. Plus, I have everything prioritized. If I get behind, I refer back to earlier in the week to see what I was supposed to do first. Also, I love organizing things, so planning out my workweek is a favorite Monday morning task.

No comments: