Between social media, snack breaks, and texting your pals on the sly, there are plenty of distractions to tempt you throughout your workday. But luckily there are just as many tools to help you stay on-task and accomplish everything on your to-do list and more. That said, what works for your co-worker may not work for you -- and vice versa. So we reached out to some industry experts to gather all the best tips and tricks for optimal productivity.
Get outside and learn something
Jay Friedman, COO, Goodway Group
I walk each morning, outside, for just under an hour. During that time I listen to an Audible audio book -- always non-fiction. I do about 1/3 business books, 1/3 sciences (biological, social, psychological), and 1/3 history/memoirs. Despite only 1/3 of these books officially covering business topics, they're all translatable to business and end up teaching and reminding me of important business lessons. Winning a war, discovering a cure for a disease, or an escape from a cult all teach us something about the behaviors needed to succeed in various environments. I also keep a book list on our internal wiki of books that had particularly good lessons and share them with our internal team.
Have an agenda and stick to it
Reid Carr, president and CEO, Red Door Interactive
At Red Door Interactive, we have pre-installed an agenda template for our meeting requests via Outlook. In it, people who call a meeting are expected to provide the outcome, the pre-work, the necessary background and determine roles for meeting participants.
To some, it may seem like a lot of work to call a meeting, but it should be. If you're calling together a group of people, you owe it to them to make it useful. For those who attend, they need to respect others by being prepared, being on-time, and accomplishing the goal of the meeting. When you have a well-prepared agenda, amazingly, you accomplish what you intended and know when you're done (so that often, you even end early). A side benefit is that, sometimes, as people prepare an agenda, they invite fewer people, or they realize that they could get what they needed via an email instead of a multi-person, hour-long meeting.
Manage your online presence efficiently
Kent Lewis, president, Anvil Media
I believe creating a consistent and compelling presence in social media is essential to building my business and personal brand. Unfortunately, managing a meaningful social media presence requires time. I've designed marketing my agency, networking group, and other social profiles around 30 minutes a day. Every morning, I check my Twitter feeds via HootSuite to look for content to inspire, bookmark (to read or post later), and share (retweet immediately or schedule for the future). I also check LinkedIn Pulse and my daily email newsletters and feeds for additional content to share or reference in original content (articles or blog posts). In about 30 minutes a day, I'm able to schedule posts across my personal and professional profiles for the day (and usually the rest of the week). The following Monday, I receive reports from HootSuite to evaluate which content performed best (likes, shares, etc.) which informs future content. My efficient social media management hacks ensure I'm top-of-mind with past, present, or prospective clients, partners, and employees. I regularly receive positive feedback from followers that validate my efforts.
Keep your inbox empty
Jim Nichols, VP marketing, Apsalar
I never read an email twice. During the first and only read I either take action or note the need for action and any specific requirements. Sounds like the same thing but it isn't. By keeping my inbox entirely empty, I can stay up to date with project developments and respond to major requests based on my notes. The taking of notes makes you process the request so you know exactly what you need to do and can answer 99.9 percent of requests in the first go.
Make a list
J. Barbush, creative director, social media, RPA
I surround myself with technology and devices, but the way I stay productive is paper and pencil. Every morning, I write my to-do list on a small piece of paper, carry it with me throughout the day, and add to it as necessary. I'm highly compartmentalized, and in order to think more conceptually, I need to free my mind of tasks and details, until I am ready to go to that well. And when I do, I just pull out the crumpled piece of paper, and check the next thing off my list.
Hire great people
Adam Kleinberg, CEO, Traction
I have the ultimate productivity hack. I've been using it since the day I started Traction 15 years ago and it never lets me down. Be relentless about hiring amazing people. If you hire great people, stuff just gets done -- better and faster. It may take a little bit longer to find them, but that upfront investment in finding the right people pays productivity dividends for years to come.
Also, checklists are good.
Remember networks matter
Tom Edwards, chief digital officer, agency, Epsilon
Taking the time to maintain partnerships has been a key productivity hack for me over the past 15 years. Investing the time to build your network, pursuing partner briefings, and building relationships has led to opportunities to co-create innovative solutions as well as access to key areas of large organizations. This has saved me time, has led to timely integrations, and provides platform insights that are of value to my clients. The key is to invest the time in cultivating relationships so the productivity hacks are fully realized when the ideal situation arises.
Know when you need an anti-hack
Jeff Rosenblum, co-founder/partner, Questus
Hacks are great. They give us more of our most precious resource: time. We all need more time and hacks provide a competitive advantage. However, our non-stop commitment to saving time also robs us of our creativity. Creativity is at the core of virtually every great idea, so my favorite hack is actually an "anti-hack." It doesn't save time or energy, but it does help feed my creativity. My anti-hack is to get out of the office whenever I'm faced with a strategic challenge and go for a run. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not a runner. I'm slow and I'm awkward. But, when I get out of the office and go for a run, it enables me to really focus on a problem for an extended period of time. I get away from the stimuli and distractions in the office. I dive deep into the challenge and build a narrative around a solution. Sometimes, I get so caught up in my thoughts that I bail on the run and simply walk for miles. I don't carry a pen or paper -- there's ideation Darwinism when you can't write the ideas down. Later, I can build a deck, write a report, or communicate with the team back at the office. But, when a really big idea is needed, I hack into my creativity. And that requires an anti-hack.
Chloe Della Costa is a contributing writer for iMedia Connection.
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"multipurpose businessman" image via iStock.