A couple weeks ago I discussed the system I am using for keeping myself accountable to take baby steps toward my larger goals for 2014. This week, I want to tell you about a system I implemented at work just a few weeks ago, and I have already learned to maximize productivity for my own life in a short amount of time through this system.
I don’t know about you, but between the allure of social media, ESPN, Yahoo News, lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, etc it can be very easy to lose track of time. I am guilty of flying down rabbit holes at work from time to time. It can be keeping up with the news, scrolling twitter to keep up with current events, or going to get coffee only to end up running into someone I know and getting held up by a 20 minute conversation.
I think it happens to most, if not all, of us.
A few weeks ago as I was implementing the personal KPIs I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I decided I wanted a way to honestly track my time and productivity at work. So, why not use a system I was familiar with?
I started creating categories of things that I knew were daily tasks and over the course of a few days compiled all of my job tasks. Both daily and weekly responsibilities were added to the list.
I had never written down all of my responsibilities for work and there are far more than I ever realized. Thankfully, many of these tasks fall into similar categories and can be grouped together.
Next, I estimated how much time per day should be allotted per category.
As you will see, about half of my tasks fall under the category of “Projects” while the remaining responsibilities are just general items that need to be completed each day.
My job has a bit of flexibility so I included a “Miscellaneous” category for those days where I have to pay bills, balance our budget, or perform other administrative tasks. These kinds of activities have to be done, but on more of a monthly basis and therefore don’t require their own category.
As you can see below, I then organized this information into a chart that perfectly fits the whiteboard next to my desk.
I have allotted each task a space where I can write in how much time was spent on that particular item every single day I work.
I have also estimated about how much time I need to spend in each category per day. For example, I should be spending 30-60 minutes a day on social media efforts for our nonprofit, 15-30 minutes on data management or keeping our databases in tip top shape with the most recent information, etc.
On the big projects I left room for flexibility because I can work on one of them for a few hours a day, if time allows. It’s structured flexibility. And one of the unexpected benefits of this system is that it actually provides a flow to my work. If I don’t know what to do next or am too scatterbrained to think that far ahead, I can turn my head ninety degrees and immediately find something that needs to be done before the end of the day.
I even included a category for waste. That includes things like skimming Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, or whatever else that takes away from my productivity at work. If I am getting paid a salary to work 40 hours a week, then I feel compelled to honor that commitment from my end which means minimizing waste and maximizing my productivity during those 40 hours, or more.
By creating this chart, I can see where I am wasting time, how much time is being wasted, and then hold myself accountable for said waste. And not only that, but I keep all of this information up on a whiteboard in my office next to my desk for anyone to see. If my waste category is high one day, or even for a week, people can feel free to come in and harass me or hold me accountable for that time, Including my boss.
I know he comes in a few times a week, and generally I know when those visits are coming, but I have nothing to hide and I am not going to change the numbers to make myself look good or bad. I will let them speak honestly for themselves and let others judge my productivity. I believe in honesty and transparency on every level.
If you have never done something like this, then I highly encourage you to try it out. Get a small whiteboard for your office, cubicle, or even just a sheet of paper and a pencil to keep on your desk prominently to remind yourself to track your activities. It will be unnatural and uncomfortable at first to record where your time is going, but in the end it will benefit you and your employer. Do it for a couple of weeks and really try to pinpoint the areas where you are wasting time and begin to reduce or even eliminate those distractions.
Is this something you are willing to try out next week? I have been using the system for a couple of weeks and have already noticed a tremendous difference in my level of productivity during work hours. Give it a shot and let me know how it works out! If you prefer not to comment, I’d love to hear from you on Twitter!