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Productivity: The difference between working and getting things done

April 27, 2017

There is a yawning chasm of difference between merely working on a project and actually getting it done, especially if your work is managing projects. You know you’ve made real strides forward when you come home, turn on your latest Netflix binge and really, truly feel that you deserve this oblivion. This is what productivity feels like.

We all know what the other days are like.

When you’re winding down in the evening there’s this nagging dissatisfaction, perhaps even some guilt. Face it, you didn’t get that much done today. Yes, you answered client emails and had an internal project status meeting, but you can’t put a finger on what you actually accomplished beyond that.

The first thing to realize is that everyone has days like this. With the exception of a few highly prolific historical figures, nobody lives in a perpetual state of productivity. But there are ways to maximize the number of days that you’re producing your best work and getting the best out of your team. Here’s how to make sure you’re getting things done in a meaningful way:

Find your space.

Make sure you have everything you need to put yourself in a productive headspace. Ready your coffee, tea, gallon jug of water, fidget spinner, whatever it takes. Maybe you need to clear all extraneous things off your desk. Maybe you need to spread everything everywhere. As for the office, the internet is awash in studies and articles claiming that open concept offices reduce productivity, or that they do just the opposite.

The bottom line is that every team is different. Take the time to experiment and find your team’s ideal space and workflow.

Establish a game plan.

It’s hard to make concrete progress on a project when your team isn’t on the same page. Before starting anything, take the time to scope the project properly, itemize all the tasks that you need to get done before you can say “this project is 100% complete.” Write down every little thing and input your plan into your project management tool. This plan will be your team’s ultimate reference and a clear picture of what needs to get done. Look at it every day. Make sure you are on track and focusing on what matters. And let’s be honest, is there anything more satisfying than checking things off a list?

Start with the scary stuff.

It’s easy to putter around with simple tasks surrounding your project without really getting into the hard stuff. Instead, once you’ve made a plan, dive right in. No turning back now! If you start with the challenging aspects of your project, they soon become less intimidating. Type that first sentence, draw the first lines of that wireframe, start throwing ideas around, whatever is most needed. Open the floodgates.

Get energized by client feedback.

If people are always lauding the magical powers of feedback, it’s because they are real. In addition to quality control, feedback is a huge motivator. Motivation means more productivity, and productivity means more guiltless Netflix.

There will always be times where you put in a whole day’s work and don’t get much done, and that’s ok too. Being productive isn’t only about maximizing the amount of work you’re getting done or finishing your projects in record time. It’s also about keeping your team’s mental health in a good place. Working without getting anything done is taxing. By following some of these tips you can focus in on making real progress.

Communications Assistant @min_team. Dog-lover, Netflix-binger.
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