By Kwan Cheung
Do you feel like you could have done more yesterday but not sure why you didn’t? It could be because you’re jeopardising yourself without even realising it. Read on to make sure you’re not making any of these everyday productivity blunders.
“Is it home time yet?”
Like the old adage goes, ‘a watched pot never boils’. With an increasing number of electronic devices camped within our field of view during our working day, it’s becoming more difficult not to keep a keen eye on the clock. It’s in the corner of your desktop, it’s on your smart watch, it’s on the home screen of your phone. It’s everywhere you look.
While time-keeping is useful, make sure you’re not just looking at the clock to count down the seconds until lunchtime or until the end of the day. Not only does it destroy your productivity, it also creates a negative perception of your time at work; you can’t allow yourself to enjoy work if you’re always counting when you can leave.
“I’m good at multi-tasking.”
Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is not always a positive trait (although it seems women ARE better at it than men after all). Recently, scientists and anthropologists believe multi-tasking is actually merely task-switching and a condition of people who struggle to concentrate. This leads to lower levels of achievement.
Instead of trying to complete 10 tasks simultaneously, try to focus on one task at a time and give that your full attention and effort. You’ll most probably find that your work is a much higher standard than dividing your concentration amongst numerous goals.
“I’m good at my job because I’m working late every night.”
Working long hours does not produce better results. Burning the candle at both ends has even been linked to absenteeism. The health implications of overworking have also been well documented; working over 55 hours a week increases your risk of a stroke by a third and develop a greater risk of heart problems.
Often coupled with long working hours is sleep depravity. Poor sleep (defined as less than 7-8 hours per night) can lead to poor memory recall, increased levels of stress and anxiety and exhaustion both physical and mental.
Want to really be more productive? Get a good night’s sleep regularly and work reasonable hours. If you feel good, the standard of work you produce will be good.
“People think I’m slacking off if I’m not in the office.”
Attitudes towards remote working and working from home have changed. People and organisations have recognised the benefits of this type of working. Indeed, many organisations including law firms, are encouraging agile working for their workforces. However, although working practices are changing, some attitudes haven’t yet fully transitioned. Despite the evidenced work life balance benefits and evidenced productivity improvements, some remote workers still feel guilty working from home. They feel they are being judged by their office-bound counterparts as shirkers. However, if working remotely from the office works for you, ignore what others think and focus on getting the job done.
“I must attend that meeting…again.”
OK, we’re all probably guilty of this one. You know the meetings I mean, the ones where you can count the words you said with your fingers. Meetings CAN be a great way to communicate to colleagues and clients in a very collaborative and efficient way, hashing out any disagreements or sharing ideas in a direct manner. However, too often meetings are poorly organised without clear objectives from the outset. This results in long drawn-out affairs with bored invitees wondering why they’re there. Before planning or accepting a meeting, take a moment to ask yourself if it’s really worth your time being there. If you really need to canvas opinion, reach a collective decision or plan a project, then a meeting could be a great way to do that. If you feel your time would be best spent on independent working or something else, then do that instead. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ either. Sometimes it may feel daunting to refuse a meeting from a senior colleague invites, but unless your input in a meeting is essential, carefully explain why you won’t be attending and if necessary ask why your attendance is required. If it’s merely to receive information, that can be sent as an email as a meeting summary or minutes from the meeting.
“I’ll do it later.”
This one is the ultimate productivity killer; procrastination. Stop putting off tasks (particularly the ones you don’t like doing) until the afternoon or tomorrow. Instead, get them out the way. Ideally first thing in the morning when you’re most awake and alert. You’ll also look forward to the more enjoyable tasks for the rest of the day. Now that’s much easier said than done, but as all routines, it will get easier as you repeat it. However, to caveat this, there’s no hard nor fast rule, find your own method to deal difficult tasks. Make sure that you don’t keep putting them off though or else they won’t get done and that lingering feeling of dread will only worsen the longer you leave them.
Work life balance means 50/50.
Lastly, there’s a lot of chatter around work life balance nowadays (including this blog) but the term itself really isn’t actually that helpful as a descriptor. ‘Balance’ portrays a binary balancing act with work and life on either end with the goal is to have them perfectly equally weighted. However, life isn’t that simple is it? Sometimes you will have periods where one is more important than the other, such as having a baby or a particularly busy period of work, which doesn’t necessarily mean you have a ‘poor work life balance’. Instead, it’s better to envision it as finding harmony between work and life, where neither is constant and the aim is to strike equilibrium in both work and home life, be that in terms or time or methodology.
Hopefully some of these tips will make you a little more productive or change how you work for the better. If you want to vastly improve your work life harmony though, it might be time for a new career direction.
If you’d like to find work life harmony, speak to us at Vario and see whether you have what it takes to join our hub or talented freelance legal professionals.