Apr 01 2012

Spring Cleaning Your Schedule

What percentage of your work time is spent on productive activities and what percentage of time is spent on interruptions, distractions, time at the water cooler and so on?

Most people drastically overestimate how productive they are. In fact, some studies show that as much as half of employee time is spent on non-productive activities.

How can you improve your productivity? By tracking your hours and examining your daily schedule.

==> Keep a Work Diary for One Week

For one week, keep a diary that tracks exactly when you’re doing what at work. Make sure to write down when you start actually doing work, as well as when you start doing something else, like checking Facebook or going to the restroom.

Your journal entries might look something like this:

12:15 – Started Work
12:31 – Bathroom
12:36 – Started Work
12:52 – Check Email

Anytime you do anything that isn’t strictly productive, write it down. Whenever someone interrupts you or asks you a question, write that down as well.

==> What’s Your Productive Time?

What percentage of your time is actually spent on productive activities? What percentage isn’t?

Once you have your one week journal finished, you’ll have an immense amount of data at your fingertips. You’ll be able to identify what your most common distractions are. That will go a long way towards helping you improve your efficiency.

==> Coming Up with Productivity Policies

Once you know what’s preventing you from being productive, the next step is to come up with policies that keep you on track.

Let’s say that one major reason you aren’t being productive is because of interruptions and distractions. Every 15 minutes or so, someone comes by your desk and breaks your concentration. That makes it hard for you to get anything done.

You might combat this by instituting a “no interruptions” policy. Put a note on your door that says “No Interruptions.” Ask people to text you if it’s an emergency.

Alternatively, if you find that you spend 10 minutes every hour checking email, you might decide to only check email twice a day: once at the beginning of the day and once at the end.

Identifying your biggest barriers to productivity is the first step to overcoming those barriers.

==> Schedule Blocks of Work Time

One of the most effective ways to increase productivity is to schedule in blocks of work time. This is time that’s spent purely on work and nothing else. No distractions, no Facebook – just work.

When you tracked your hours, you most likely realized how much time is spent on distracting activities. These work time blocks are just the opposite: solid work time with zero distractions.

If you follow these steps and improve your daily schedule, you can easily improve your productivity by 30%, 50% or in some cases even 100%!