I have been in so many meetings lately where the conversation is good and the thoughts are well intended, but when it comes to getting things done so many of us struggle. This naturally let me to the question of why?
A few years back I worked with a process engineer, whom the company I worked for hired. He had a great personality and energy. We relocated him into the area and expectations where high for him to contribute immediately. Two months into his tenure, his supervisor comes into my office and says, "Things aren't working out with Joe." I was surprised. "What is wrong?" I replied. She said, he just can't seem to get anything done. He has all of these projects and things he is working one, but has yet to complete anything. Naturally I took a walk down to his office to visit and see his view of his performance to this point. The first thing I noticed was a very large white board with a list of probably 50 different "To-Do" items written. We ended up letting him go a week later because of his inability to perform.
I tell this story, because we all seem to have so may distractions and things we are working on that we sometimes become unproductive. It is easy to take on multiple big projects at a single time. Unfortunately many times this leads to burnout and unproductive behaviors. By their nature people need to complete things and not feel guilty for devoting their entire energy and time to one thing. Some of the most productive times in my workday are when I can enter into a sort of REM type focus on work without worry of neglecting other projects. Of course REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and is commonly associated with deep sleeping patterns that give superior rest.
Here are some of my personal suggestions to maintain your productivity and making sure your strategy is "Doing Things".
- Never take on more than 1 large project at a time.
- Identify the most productive time for you during the day and devote that time to focus on your project. Don't allow ANY distractions. Enter your REM work focus.
- Check email 3 times a day, first thing in the morning, noon and before you leave. Don't allow your co-workers to use email like IM.
- When you leave and go home, then don't work (unless this is your most productive time).