We live in an era of swooshes, calendar reminder beeps, vibrating incoming emails, and rings every waking moment of the working day. It’s tough to stay 100 percent productive as an owner at times. We have ADD (attention deficit disorder) as a culture.
Sometimes, I long for the peace and quiet I had during the first year of business, back when my office was the guest bedroom of our apartment. Ah, those were the days. For all of us, it may sometimes seem like our office is a revolving door of questions and issues.
Aside from the impromptu Q&A sessions, managerial follow-up, the check-in meetings, and the pep talks, you also have to finish your list of things to do.
Here’s what I’ve learned about being productive:
1. Make a list–and keep adding to it.
To keep myself on my game, I never cross out the last task on my list without adding a new one. I find that always having pending tasks keeps me away from distractions. Prioritize your list in order of importance, and be ready to have some flexibility if you need to reorganize as new tasks pop up. As long as no pending tasks “expire,” give yourself a reasonable deadline extension on low-priority tasks if need be.
2. Shut your door.
Sometimes, you have to put the DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door and be ready to surrender to whatever will happen when you disconnect. Focus on finishing the first task on your list as swiftly and effectively as you can.
The reality is, if you turn off your phone, close your email server, and shut your door, you may temporarily miss a thing or two, and someone might drop the ball while you’re MIA. But truth be told, if you have a hundred balls juggling in the air, getting comfortable with chaos is a must. At any point in time, balls will drop. Completing your No. 1 task is probably worth more to the company than any minor detail that fell through the cracks while your door was shut.
3. Get comfortable.
People concentrate differently. Some enjoy listening to music in the background, others need complete silence. A few need to feel they are around motivated people. My business partner for example, loves to sit at his favorite coffee shop when he has the most challenging tasks to complete.
Do what makes you feel most comfortable, whether that means being in your pajamas, blasting music on your iPod, or using your treadmill while you type. Think outside the box. You will be far more productive.
As a closing reminder, consider that there’s only so much time you can invest in work–overdoing it does not make you more productive. It’s a quality-over-quantity issue when it comes to achieving optimal productivity. Inspiring your staff to follow your lead often yields amazing results as well. So go for it. Encourage people to loosen their ties, kick off their shoes, break into a happy dance, or hum to their favorite song. It’ll be worth it.