“How to get more done with less!”
“The five most insane productivity tips ever!”
“How to cross off your entire to-do list in one day!”
These classic click-bait articles might give you a few tactics on how to be more productive, which appears to be the flavor du jour these days. While everyone’s system of work may differ, I hope that everyone is using a pretty key ingredient of successful work habits that some of us forget: pre-work.
When I say pre-work I’m referring to the organization of ideas, orderliness of one’s work environment, and clarifying expected outcomes and processes before getting started. This is a huge reason why we have regular All Hands meetings and one-on-ones, why everyone has multiple areas/zones from which they can work, and why we align on Key Results Areas twice per year.
If you want to get more done with less, be clear with yourself when you’re in ‘planning’ mode and when you’re in ‘doing’ mode. For me, they’re actually quite different and I’ve found separating them ruthlessly so as to not let one bleed over into the next is remarkably helpful. I know when I’m writing emails and scheduling and I know when I need to be in a more creative and thoughtful mood for other work.
Pre-work means that when you sit down to knock off your to-do list you already have meaningful ingredients (any research notes required to write, for instance) and even the less meaningful (a glass of water or a stick of gum) ready and at arm’s length. Even remembering the simple things can make a huge difference: using the bathroom beforehand, putting your phone on silent, and having a snack or drink ready in case you need energy.
With so few days left between us and the end of the semester, let’s be mindful about our efficiency in our key projects. In just a month we’ll be having our Spring 2018 Performance Reviews and for many of us, now is a critical time period to accelerate through the finish line on many of our Key Results Areas.
Before you sit, know what it is you need to accomplish.
Before you walk into the LearningCenter, know what it is you need to coach.
Before you do your work, do your pre-work.