Productive Much? What’s Your Secret?
Productivity and me are not close bedfellows. In fact, sometimes we’re downright enemies. For example, if I had an amazing day at work and totally nailed all my to-dos and goals, I can virtually guarantee I will NOT have a similar day tomorrow. Working out, getting great sleep, following a regimented schedule…none of these things seem to make a difference to me.
Add in 20 employees, 3 kids, three properties, a hectic speaking and travel schedule, what I hope is an adequate social life and my never-ending battle of the bulge, well you can see why productivity…sustained productivity would be a thing I’d very much wish to conquer.
I get a little frustrated every time someone posts a productivity hack who works at a massive company, or from someone who can “listen to podcasts on the subway.” I mean…I run a company in Omaha, NE, and the only Subway serves questionable sandwiches. Most of the tips just don’t seem applicable to my life. NPR recently posted an article I could get behind about Parenting Power Moves and the ideas were awesomely easy.
And while I am NO expert, here are the productivity tips that work for me (and my team at Red Branch Media):
Work from Anywhere
Whether it’s your desk (which changes monthly) the sunny kitchen, standing up, sitting down, a cafe near your apartment or with a mud mask on your face, or in my case, a hotel room…we encourage movement both inside and out of the office. Weird places people work:
- Our work bike. This is great for editing or spreadsheet making.
- The kitchen counter on a stair stepper. This is wonderful for those with hip or back issues.
- The “living room” with couches, chairs and even a place to put your feet up.
- Coming SOON: Hammock Swings!
- A bed.
- A Starbucks.
- By the pool (in summer).
- Our favorite restaurant PITCH!
Don’t Burn Out
You can burn out on like anything. Your seat in the office even. There is only ONE office with a door on it and as CEO, I naturally made it my home. But I hated it. It’s dark, has no windows, the carpet is gross and it left me feeling disconnected from the team. So while everyone else changed desks, I sat in my little CEO hovel and wondered why my team no longer asked for my help. Today, I moved my desk into a room with far less privacy but far more light and connectedness. Plus the team now gets to listen to me make client calls, which is definitely to their benefit and keeps them aligned with client wants, needs and issues.
You can also burn out with too much work, so sometimes we’ll just take a walk, play a game of pool or even break for a quick burrito and beer. Changing up your projects, location and workload is key to avoiding burnout.
Think. Plan. Do.
Everyone thinks and plans differently but putting structure around your day can help with productivity immensely. That could mean taking some quiet time before your meetings and tasks begin to write out your plans for the day.
At Red Branch Media, we’ve implemented something called #6ThingsStandups. We have little notebooks where we list the #6things we’re going to do that day and we share them with one another. Not only does this give us each insight into the others’ days but it allows us to assist when we have a light day or ask for help when we’re overwhelmed. It’s not all uncommon for someone heading on vacation to ask someone to pitch in or for me to reorder someone’s load so they have a better chance of getting off early to take their dog to the vet.
Manage Yourself AND others
Jeremiah Dillon, Head of Product Marketing for Google at Work, suggests the following schedule:
Monday: Energy ramps out of the weekend — schedule low-demand tasks like setting goals, organizing, and planning.
Tuesday, Wednesday: Peak of energy — tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.
Thursday: Energy begins to ebb — schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.
Friday: Lowest energy level — do open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building.
Our schedule looks a lot like this. On Monday, I take meetings with each department to help them plan and optimize their schedules. Whether their particular meeting is in the morning or the afternoon, they always have something they can do that’s a weekly task and not tied to a meeting. Then they get their marching orders and we all grind through the day.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are filled with client calls, writing of articles and email copy. Many people have Tuesday as their WFH day because the solitude lends itself to writing and solitary things.
Wednesday EVERYONE is in the office so we basically spend our time busting our humps.
On Thursdays people also take a work from home day and for me, it’s editing and performance review day.
And on Friday we essentially “slide into home plate” just before eatin’ meetin’ and enjoy the last hours of the work week to hang with each other. It’s amazing.
I also use the Eisenhower box and encourage my managers to do so as well. I actually encourage everyone that works for me to manage their time in this way.
About Maren Hogan:
Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer, writer and business builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. Founder and CEO of Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and outsourcing and thought leadership to HR and Recruiting Technology and Services organizations internationally, Hogan is a consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques. She has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies and been a thought leader in the global recruitment and talent space. You can read more of her work on Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and her blog Marenated.