My New Year’s resolutions are generally personal — lose 5 pounds, wake up earlier, shop less, etc. Now that I’m working on my own business, work is personal and the two have become very intertwined.
This year’s career resolution for me is to work smarter, not harder. I absolutely know by committing to this I’ll have more free time to more fully commit to the rest of life.
The first step for me is really identifying the cause of the productivity problem (and I know you all can relate to these).
My Top Productivity Killers
Gchat. As much as I love the ability to be in one long, ongoing conversation with everyone I know (I really do love it) it can be the most distracting thing. No matter what I’m doing, when I hear that little “bloop!” and see someone’s name flashing in the next tab over, it’s hard to resist taking a pause from whatever I’m doing.
Social Media. Even though there are generally no things popping up telling me I must look at my social media, I am inextricably drawn to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during the day. Part of it is work-related updating for The Prepary, but then it slowly moves into personal-land and I’m being looped in on what someone ate for lunch.
Email. On one hand, email is a part of work and it is part of my job to answer emails in a timely manner. However, sometimes email can take hold of the entire day if I let it. I also have a bad habit of looking at an email but then letting it sit before I respond to it. This pretty much means I have to read it all over again when I’m ready to respond which is not efficient!
My phone. Not that people are calling or texting me all day, but the amount of push notifications I get about random things can get a bit unwieldy.
So here we have it… the cause of my productivity problems. Now here are the solutions I’m hoping will help me stick to this resolution.
How I’m Going to Tackle Them
Committing to blocks of time without any of the above! Sounds like a tall order, but I think the best way to start will be in small doses. I loved Levo’s recent post about the Pomodoro technique, where you set a timer for small amounts of time and fully commit to the task at hand during that time. I know I would have even written this article a lot faster had I used that technique!
Doing work in productive spaces. This used to be a non-issue, but now that I work from home it has definitely become one. Even though my laptop is very light and mobile, my desk has proven to be the absolute best place to get work done. Second to that comes a great coffee shop. However, the couch makes me want to fall asleep immediately and I need to not bring my laptop there.
Taking real breaks. Yes, I do think breaks will make me more productive. Instead of doing half-work/half-eat, I should just eat, or go for a walk or a run. On days when I do this, it really does help me be more productive.
Leveraging technology to be productive. There are a lot of great tools and apps out there and I want them to save me time! I already use a few great ones but it’s my goal to discover more and let technology do some heavy lifting for me.
Planning my day ahead of time. Normally I wake up, just go with it and tackle whatever shows up first (unless I have appointments). However, I know deep down this is not the best plan of attack. What it ends up doing is making me focus my best hours on the little things versus the big picture things, which would have way more of an impact.
So there we have it. A very clear understanding of the problem and a pretty reasonable solution. Can I keep this year’s resolution? We’ll see!
What is your work-related resolution for 2014? Tell us in the comments and share on Twitter using #CareerResolution!