How to be busy AND productive

On my busiest days, I am not productive. After an action packed day of meet-ups, training, lunchtime meditation, email etc., I’d realise, I hadn’t made a difference – at least to the things that matter.

I’ll confess, I am also a chronic procrastinator, which is part of the problem, but after enough days with no productivity, things needed to change.

I started by making small changes to the way I did things and implemented productivity techniques that have made a huge difference to my output, motivation and work satisfaction. These techniques have also helped me achieve results that matter, here’s a few that helped me shake that unproductive cycle.
No meeting days

At Kiandra, we have No Meeting Wednesdays. Not only is this a full day of productivity for the team, it is also a way to challenge each other to achieve outcomes without defaulting to a meeting. I definitely use my Wednesdays to get through my work and the satisfaction from this propels me for the remainder of the week.

Meeting walk-outs

We have a policy in our team that if you are late by 3 minutes to a meeting, I can walk out. And it goes both ways. If I am late, the team can walk out and use their valuable time on more important things. The burden is on the late attendee to reschedule. While there’s more room to improve our meeting hygiene, this technique has helped us hold each other accountable for punctuality.

Check email twice per day

I have recently declared to the team that I only check emails twice per day at 10 and 4 – otherwise they can contact me any time via phone, walk-by, or our collaboration platform, Teams. My email has reduced significantly, replaced with more efficient DMs, and my day is much more efficient because I can lump activities into one concentrated block of time. 

What is urgent vs where I can make the biggest impact

When confronted with a list of tasks to perform, people to meet, issues to resolve and a team to motivate (all with a perceived urgency), it’s easy to lose sight of what is most important. I review my list regularly and prioritise the activities that will make the biggest positive impact to Kiandra. This may mean letting somebody down by deprioritising their request, however, by making smart choices about priorities, I can demonstrate the benefit to the wider team.

Eat the Frog

This is a well-known strategy where you aim to do the task you dread most first thing in the morning. It’s tough to wake-up and get ready for the day knowing that you have a daunting task to complete but when you get into the habit, two things happen:

1. You actually get it done and the rest of the day is free from the stress of needing to do the activity

2. You get to realise the worst thing is often not that bad – I’ve found that this technique has reframed my attitude.

Treat it like a draft

This single technique helps me achieve much higher output. When I need to write a proposal or business case, a blog or a presentation – I jump into it and treat it as a draft. This takes away the stress of making it perfect. Most of the time, the draft is 80% good enough. And when you are needing to get a lot done, 80% is better than nothing.