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Archive for June, 2011


Take Charge of Interruptions

No matter how good you are at focusing, between emails, voicemails, text messages, websurfing, social media and co-workers, you will get interrupted.  If you allow all interruptions, they will control your day.  Do you ever leave work at the end of the day feeling like you touched a bunch of tasks but never completely finished anything?   If so, here are some tips to help you control the interruptions so you can be positively productive! 

  1. Plan for Interruptions. Allow time in your schedule to handle interruptions. If you schedule your day too tightly or rigidly, you will not be able to make up time lost to interruptions. 
  2. Identify Why You Are Being Interrupted. Who interrupts you and when? Do you see a pattern? The same person asking the same questions? A call from a friend at the same time each day? Eliminate the interruption before it occurs. Consider additional training for the employee who asks too many questions. Call your friend at night.  
  3. Go Somewhere Else. Close your door. Leave your cubicle and go to an empty office or conference room.   
  4. Ask people to postpone routine matters. Set aside time each day for dealing with them and encourage people to meet with you during that time. Make sure everyone knows when your door is open and you are receptive to interruptions.   
  5. Do not encourage socializing.   Remove the “bait” from your workspace (candy dishes, gadgets and other things that might easily attract visitors.) 

Five Work Habits to Help You Become Positively Productive

You don’t have to take big steps to improve productivity and effectiveness. Small steps that become good work habits are all it takes, and small gains in productivity can produce big results. 

  1. Plan tomorrow today. Take the last 5 minutes of each day and set your priorities for tomorrow so you can hit the ground running when the day begins. 
  2. Do the most important activities first. Doing the most important things first keeps you on track and helps you accomplish high priority tasks.  
  3. Be productive when handling documents. The goal is to discard, delegate, take immediate action, file it for reference or file it for follow up. 
  4. Use filters and rules to organize email. Rules and filters help you organize email so you can immediately respond to and manage emails from key people. 
  5. Be consistent. Being organized is an ongoing process.  Don’t get discouraged with minor set backs. 

Be A Productive Meeting Planner

In the previous post I wrote about attending meetings.  What if you need to host a meeting?

If having a meeting is truly the only way to accomplish what you are looking to accomplish, then make sure your meetings are effective and efficient. 

Meetings are often significant sources of time waste. Here are 10 tips for conducting more effective meetings.

1. Clarify the purpose of the meeting.

What do you want to accomplish by having the meeting and why do you want to accomplish it?

2. Seriously consider alternative methods for accomplishing your purpose.

Is this meeting really necessary? Can your objective be accomplished with a memo or an e-mail? Would one-on-one conversations be more effective? Since meetings have become such a serious waste of time in many organizations, look for ways to avoid having a meeting, if at all possible.

3. Invite the appropriate people.

Are the right people invited to this meeting? Is anyone coming to this meeting that does not need to be there?

4. Conduct adequate premeeting planning.

What needs to happen before the meeting begins? For example, can materials be sent to the attendees prior to the meeting to facilitate more effective and efficient interactions during the meeting?

5. Carefully control the time used during the meeting.

As a meeting leader, develop a reputation for being ruthless about avoiding time waste. Start on time! Give attendees a specific ending time and stick to it!

6. Use headlining techniques.

Communicate during the meetings by asking everyone to use headlining techniques to prevent or minimize rambling dialogue. Whenever possible, ask people to begin their comments or responses by headlining – stating clearly in 10 words or less – the essence of what they plan to talk about.

7. Use the pause and debrief method to generate purposeful discussion.

Headline the issue to be discussed and ask everyone to pause for a minute or two and jot down their thoughts related to the issue. Then debrief the group in a manner that will facilitate the full participation of all members of the meeting group. For example, call on the less vocal attendees first and protect them from premature criticism from the dominant, outspoken attendees. As meeting leader, if you plan to comment, save your comments for last.

8. Use the “Parking Lot” technique to prevent excessive rambling or off-topic discussions.

Use a flip chart or separate pad of paper to record off-topic items. In effect, park these issues elsewhere until after the meeting, along with follow-up items or any other items that would be better addressed outside the meeting.

9. Establish some form of “After-Action Follow-up”.

Have a recorder present to take notes and distribute to the attendees. Establish a clear plan for what happens next, if anything. Assign ownership and set deadlines for any follow-up items.

10. Evaluate the success of your meeting and make any appropriate adjustments before you conduct another meeting.

If you missed it in my previous post, check out the link below for a meeting planner worksheet.  If you can’t use it, pass it on to those whose meetings you attend so your time is well spent!


Don’t Let Meetings Run Your Day!

Meetings can quickly fill up your schedule and eat up time needed to work on critical tasks. Your priorities come first and meetings have value when they support those priorities. However, some meetings you must attend and hold, even if they have no direct bearing on your most important tasks and goals. How to make sure meetings don’t run your day? Pre-qualify before you agree to attend. 

  • Find out the desired outcome for the meeting
  • Ask the meeting planner what contribution you are expected to make
  • Request an agenda and attend only the part of the meeting where your presence is needed
  • Delegate attendance to a staff member
  • Give only a few people permission to schedule meetings for you

Take charge of meetings and free your schedule to be positively productive. Check out the link below for a meeting planner worksheet.