Lost productivity costs companies millions each year.
While it is hard to quantify exactly how much is lost, certainly distraction alone prevents daily peak performance. Besides hunger, sleepiness, bodily functions, and simple brain fatigue, productivity research shows that 48% of employees waste time surfing the web (including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), 33% lose work time socializing with co-workers, and 49% are managing personal calls, texts, and e-mails.
It’s true: time is money. But time is more easily lost than dollars, so how can you push yourself or your team to be more focused? Maybe you want to spend your time wisely, but find yourself running in circles or falling short each day. How can you shift from being “busy” to being more effective?
By re-focusing on one thing: purpose.
Your purpose is more than what you do while you’re checking e-mail. It’s more than what you do while compiling reports or sitting in meetings. These activities may be part of your job, but they don’t define your role or your unique identity. Every person is driven by something. Often, we are driven by deadline pressure, interruptions from co-workers, or by an unexpected project delay. But what would it look like to focus on a more purposeful vision?
Purposeful leadership requires we take a step back, focusing on our unique identity and skill set so these aren’t drowned out by the frantic activity of the day.
Do you long to overcome chaos? Here are three steps to organizing your outlook in a way that maximizes your time, priorities, and productivity:
If you were to define your top work priority, what would it be? To give vision? To provide team leadership? To design or create?
Before you can effectively use your time, you need to clarify the most important role you play. Start with your unique purpose and draft at least three goals that would help you fulfill your primary purpose. If your job is to work with people but you spend most of your time answering e-mails, maybe a change is needed. Set goals that are specific, measurable, and that put feet to your purpose.
How well do these goals match your weekly tasks? Many people have goals, but do these goals translate into functional realities?
To strategize your time, make a master list of tasks that need accomplishing, then group together tasks in specific categories and rank these categories by importance. Low-level categories could be delegated, dropped, or restructured. As you brainstorm, involve your spouse, mentor, or co-workers. Sometimes it’s hard to see life through an honest, critical lens without encouragement from others.
Intentional scheduling is like budgeting: it means telling your time where you want it to go (instead of asking your time where it went!).
Now that you’ve ranked your categories, assign the top activities to your most productive, interrupted blocks of time. Use your less productive times (late day, “filler” slots between meetings) to address lower priority categories.
Scheduling is where the rubber meets the road – where you close doors and ask for zero interruptions, where you stop doing one task and go on to another (even when it hurts), and where you refuse to let other people determine what is important every day. Your schedule is ground zero for living up to your purpose, so take it seriously and you’ll experience greater satisfaction in the way you spend time each week.