I am always looking to find one more way of tuning up my productivity . Off late a lot of people have started asking me of my work habits , and I thought maybe if I jot down mine – maybe it will prompt a few more of you to chime in and we all gain a new trick or two
1. Sleep more
Counter intuitive as it may sound , I am more productive when I sleep well . So if I have to make a trade off between spending an hour prettying up a presentation or sleeping , I choose sleep every single time . I picked up this habit during business school and it works well for me till today
2. Don’t sign up for news letters etc on work email
If I need one issue of some magazine type thing , I use a hotmail id that I don’t monitor . If I am part of an email group that someone else is monitoring , I use an automatic rule to move to a folder in case I need to search later .
3. Delegate aggressively – both responsibility and authority
This needs trust and I have a simple policy on trust . I trust everyone in my team by default . Everyone has exactly one chance to break that trust . The second time it happens – I just stop trusting and won’t delegate to that person . Thankfully I very rarely have had a colleague break my trust . If you can’t trust your team , why should you lead that team any way ?
4. Move people to bcc the soonest you can when an email needs threading
If my colleague introduces me to someone on email and I need to set up time with that person – I move my colleague to bcc on my first reply, with a thanks . He just needs to know I am on it – he doesn’t need to know when I am doing the meeting and whether I need to go back and forth 10 times to set a time . It saves a lot of trouble for all the people who are drowning in email
5. Aggressively stay on top of email and twitter
Once you have the discipline of minimizing email , then be aggressive on making sure you read everything . I do it in stages – flagging as I go anything that needs more attention . Then I get to them throughout the day . No mail stays unread when I go to bed . The one exception is vacation – where I usually schedule a day or two at the end to catchup on mail before I return to work . I can type fast on my phone – so I don’t need a larger device for email .
Same deal with twitter – I respond in real time if I can when I get a notification that needs my attention . It takes a lot less effort than doing so in batches .
6. Keep all conversations as short as they can be
On internal emails , I rarely write more than couple of sentences and sacrifice the salutations etc . And if an email thread starts to bulge – I pick up the phone and call and get it sorted out quickly . Email warfare is the biggest productivity killer – and it is full of misunderstandings . Phone solves that easily .
7. Unless it is a customer related activity , don’t get into a string of back to back meetings
My internal calls are all on Fridays . And on other days , I take time off calendar to let serendipity do its wonder . I will talk to anyone who will talk to me at that time – and more often than not, good things come of it . There is no excuse for not having time – we always make time for things that are important for us .
8. Value agility over elegance
This is an easy trade off for me – if I can do something to solve a problem then and there , like making an email intro for a friend , I just type as I talk . It won’t be polished – but it gets the job done and helps me do more . The exception is with customer facing stuff where I am more careful , especially with prospects who need to be converted to customers . Slip ups can be costly in those cases .
9. Planning is everything , the plan is not everything
The process of planning is useful – we get to think through stuff carefully. But the plan we come up with shouldn’t be set in stone – because circumstances change . So when people say there is no budget for this change or that change – I don’t take it at face value . There is always something else that can be sacrificed . Budgets and plans are for business convenience – they shouldn’t be the tail wagging the dog . There is a limitation that this only works for things under your influence – it’s hard to convince others to view plans the way you do 🙂
10. Spend time with family
I have a crazy work schedule on week days . So on weekends , I try hard to not get pulled into work related stuff . I am not completely successful in turning off from work a 100% , but I am much better than say two years ago . There is no one else to blame – if I don’t set a boundary , work will set a boundary .
I am sure there are more things – but this is a good summary . So what are your tips ?