The following 12 tips have significantly increased my personal effectiveness and productivity. Share what works for you too!
12 game changers at work:
- Use the 2-minute rule. This is the biggest game changer I have ever employed in my work life for productivity. If something can be done in 2 minutes or less, do it now and do not waste the time of adding it to a task list. I stretch this to 4-minute items and sometimes 10-minute items. It makes me so much more productive overall. My lists are shorter and I get more done.
- Get into the office or log-on at home before everyone else and leave later. It isn’t usually that hard since many more people come in later these days (when they aren’t working remotely) and they leave early to beat traffic. You’ll get more done and with consistency, people will see that you are reliable.
- Use little courtesies in email and text. I can’t express this enough. Without common courtesies, communications can become cold and leave too much room for speculation on tone/mood. It is important to be consistent with the courtesies. Like greeting people with their names in emails and text messages. Also, a personal note like “How are you today?” With the heavy use of texting and email, these little things get overlooked and change the entire tone of communications, moving them into more positive vibes. We all need more of that!
- Pick up the phone instead of typing as often as possible. Or walk over to the person if you can. Leave negative emotions out of texts and email. If any sense of conflict surfaces, use caution and pick up the phone or walk over to speak to the person privately. We live in email and text messages. This makes us vulnerable to the habit of reacting and responding to things that appear on our screens. This is the time to screen and take back the impact of human interaction.
- Never use ALL CAPS unless it is for a POSITIVE or JOYFUL communication. Otherwise, it comes across as shouting. It is also harder to read visually.
- Reducing the number of exclamation points used at the end of sentences helps people take you more seriously. This reduces the chance that the message comes across as exaggerated or over expressive. One is enough. Really!
- Shorten up sentences, using brevity thoughtfully and skillfully. Avoiding the overuse of commas will help improve sentence structure. This can reduce run-on sentences. That is the number one editing issue found in most written communications. We tend to keep connecting thoughts, overlooking how it impacts the reader. Use caution on the overuse of brevity. Texting and email can make it tempting to be lazy. Being too brief leaves room for interpreting negative feeling about the message. People often make the mistake of being so brief that sentences are incomplete.
- Use texting that you’ll be late for real emergencies only. Are you one of “those people” texting that you are on your way but a little late? Stop it. It is annoying and not productive. Occasionally, Yes, it happens. You will be viewed as more reliable if people aren’t always finding themselves waiting for you to arrive to get started. There may be a reason this is happening too often. Your scheduling habits may need some changes. One strategy is to pad time in between meetings. We are often too optimistic that something will only take 30 minutes. Practice assessing how much time is really needed for meetings and actions. This will also reduce personal stress.
- Lift-up the teams with which you work by avoiding three overused and misused little words. When possible, leave the language of “I” and ‘you” and “my” out of communications. This is a real game changer in how you come across to any team. Using “I” can be too “me” centered vs. being team focused. Using “you” can come across as finger-pointing or blame. When in doubt, simply leave it out. New managers and leaders often use “my” when referring to team members as resources. We don’t own people. We work with people. If you ever find yourself saying something like “I’ll have my HR person reach out to you.”, stop, out of respect. Additionally, avoid casual references like “My gal/guy” or “Our gal/guy. Use names and titles for lifting status rather than minimizing or diminishing them. This strategy lifts everyone on the team.
- Engage (Show up and be present). This is so that you can listen (listen first) and speak up. Turn off the ringer on your phone, turn it face down on the table or keep it out of site. Close your laptop if not being used in conjunction with others during a meeting. Showing up and focusing on the purpose of the meeting is a basic principle of leadership. We need to show up and be present to be effective. Absence is noticed by everyone (whether you are physically or mentally missing). If you work remotely, compensate with more presence and voice in calls. Check your schedule ahead of time to prepare questions and information relevant to meetings. It can be helpful to add a meeting reminder that is a few days ahead rather than 15 minutes. That way, you can do your homework, showing up prepared, ready for the next action. Oh, and one more thing, it is important to pay attention to how you respond to others in body language and verbally so that your body and voice doesn’t show any sign that you are not present and focused.
- Click on tasks to open them rather than closing the entire reminder window that pops up on your device. It’s like opening mail. Unopened mail piles up and has consequences. This sounds obvious but tasks and reminders (usually put into Outlook) get ignored by clicking to close the window. These tools have cool bells and whistles but they don’t work if they are ignored. Stop clicking them closed without reviewing them and taking actual actions. Remember the 2-minute rule to get through them and to reduce how many get placed on a list of “to-dos.”
- Motivate yourself and others by focusing on the very next action needed to move forward. Moving forward is a huge game changer. Never end a meeting without knowing what is needed to move forward. It can be as simple as looking up a contact and reaching out to someone.
Let us know what works for you. The more tips we share, the more effective we can all be.