Mid-year performance reviews have wrapped up and now August vacation season is ramping up. The urge to coast through the weeks in the office until Labor Day is ever-present. Below are a few useful reminders I’ve gathered from my clients to help you remain focused on your job. And if you haven’t scheduled your own vacation, what are you waiting for? If you have days to take off, by all means take them. And if you can’t go anywhere exotic, that’s what the Jitney’s for!
Write a to-do list every morning and stick to it
Taking five minutes out of the start of your day to type out a set of goals will prevent procrastination (but keep it manageable, ideally three or four concrete items). Literally post a constant reminder of what you need to do on a given day right in front of your computer screen and the odds of actually completing your tasks on time will increase. Making a list is a simple solution to add structure to your otherwise chaotic workday.
Revisit and revise your objectives
If you are a good and diligent employee, you prepared a list of measurable objectives at the start of the year. If you are like the rest of the 99% who didn’t compile such a plan, this is the time to catch up and put a list of objectives together once and for all. Are your objectives reasonable and realistic? Do you have sign off from your manager? Having a list of objectives is like a charter between you and your company that keeps both sides honest and reminded of what needs to get done.
Schedule downtime on your calendar
Counter-intuitively, formally planning for downtime in your calendar actually increases your productivity. Knowing that you will have coffee with your work-husband or your work-wife at specific times during the week gives you something to look forward to and set moments to decompress. Psychologically, this will help you keep your existing to-do’s under control and help you manage stress.
Eliminate “tracking” spreadsheets
If you are on a team that loves to maintain over-elaborate Excel spreadsheets that track everyone’s progress in excruciating detail, do everything you can to lobby for their minimization or outright elimination. Tracking spreadsheets are just the worst. They always morph into a formal, suddenly necessary deliverable so you end up spending all your time providing updates on what you plan to do rather than doing actual work — the irony is murder! If you are a manager responsible for introducing tracking sheets, know that your employees hate them. But, if you insist on using them, place strict limits on how much detail is required per update so that no one is spending more than five minutes on what should just be a tool to use to get after quick status checks.
Get off your chair and walk the floor
In lieu of surfing the web when your mind needs time away from that pricing model or pitch presentation, get out of your seat and walk the floor. Socialize and talk to your colleagues. Make nice and humanize the office. Generating a strong sense of team will do wonders for improving your productivity, guaranteed.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.