Increasing productivity is one of the most frequent goals for companies, workers, and managers across industries. Especially for those of us who work in software development, it’s common to feel that we are competing in a fierce business world and are trying as hard as possible to focus on work tasks amid constant diversions. In order to achieve the great results everyone wants, people are constantly looking for ways to do more with the time they have. For managers, it’s particularly crucial to look at behavior patterns and work habbits in order to find ways to be more productive. Becoming an efficient manager will not only help you deal better with everything on your plate but leave more time to be there for your team members. And as you surely already know, positive work habits trickle from the top down, so productive managers inspire productive teams.
Here is my list of suggestions to help you increase your personal productivity and help your team by setting a positive example:
Set Clear Goals and Objectives
Accomplishing your objectives is all about breaking down complex missions to achievable tasks. Even if your overall vision is very clear, no one will be able to make it come to life without understanding how it translates to everyday work. This principle applies to planning anything that needs to be done. Just remember to have realistic expectations based on the proven ability of yourself as well as others.
Plan your day
Once it’s clear what’s on your agenda for the day, spend a few minutes considering your strategy. Make the habit of planning at the beginning of each morning what tasks should be done that day. Don’t forget to take into account the level of complexity of each item and schedule to perform activities that demand the most effort in the morning when you are less tired and more attentive. Leave the most repetitive and routine tasks to the end of your routine. Try to set realistic time frames. Don’t trust yourself to deal with urgent assignments at the last minute or rush through activities at double speed.
Do fewer things & single-task
Multitasking is the quickest way to occupy your time doing more than you can handle and end up having done nothing at all. Avoid multitasking by breaking big, complex tasks into smaller pieces and focusing on getting one thing done at a time.
Maximize your work time
Managers need uninterrupted blocks of time to deal with important projects that require undivided concentration. But as any office worker will tell you there’s a big difference between the amount of time we spend at work and the time actually spent working. To overcome this, there’s no choice but becoming very strict about time management. If simply paying more attention to your schedule isn’t enough, consider these techniques:
- Minimize the time spent at meetings by having short stand-up briefs instead.
- Plan days in your schedule when everyone knows you are not available for consultations.
- Limit the pressure from the endless stream of Emails, by only checking your inbox at pre-scheduled times.
- Schedule work sessions with yourself like you would with an important client. When managing a busy team, it’s easy to put your own tasks last on the list. Avoid that by setting special times when you only work on what’s most important, not most urgent.
Use time management tools
Technology is often the first thing we blame for our inability to concentrate for prolonged stretches of time. However, technology is also your best friend when trying to improve personal productivity. There are really too many productivity apps out there to cover them in this article, but it’s pretty safe to say that if you have a problem, the app store has a solution. Whether you want to stop refreshing the Facebook feed when you are working on an important presentation, or need to find a way to quickly arrange a meeting with a large group of people, embrace your gadget-loving side and find the tool that works for you.
Acknowledge your achievements
In order to get up every day and do your best, you need motivation. And motivation comes from positive reinforcement. But when you are the manager, there’s often no one around to congratulate you on the great work you’ve been doing. This is another task you’ll have to take upon yourself. Try giving yourself micro-goals and reinforcing the heck out of yourself for hitting those goals, over and over again throughout the day. The motivation you get from reaching your micro-goals will give you the fuel you need to keep going. And lastly, never take your hard work for granted, or beat up on yourself for not accomplishing more than you do.