Getting the Most Out of Your Day: Productivity in the Workplace


I’m always looking for ways to accomplish more throughout the day. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to get done, and I just start frantically doing things, without prioritizing the tasks with the highest value, or selecting the most efficient way to do things. Because of this, my husband has lovingly reminded me more than once “not to confuse activity with productivity in the workplace." 

I recently read an article in Forbes called “15 Surprising Things Productive People Do Differently.” Below are a few takeaways:

1. Write everything down

It’s impossible for us to remember everything we need to do without writing it down. Writing things down frees our minds for more strategic and creative thinking, rather than it being bogged down by mental to-do lists. Plus, when you write it down, you can visually see what needs to get done, and you can easily prioritize the highest value to lowest value tasks.

2. The 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rules suggests that about 80% of outcomes come from 20% of activities, meaning that we need to focus more on higher value activities and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Before we begin a project we should ask ourselves, “is this the highest value activity I could be doing right now?” “What activity, if done right now, would have the greatest impact on my business?”

3. If it takes less than 5 minutes to do, do it now

Don’t flag it in your email or write it down on your to-do list, just do it. In the time you spend writing it down, switching focuses to something else, and then coming back to it, you could’ve already had it done.

4. Resist the urge to multi-task

This one is the toughest for me. For some reason I feel really productive when I’m multi-tasking – I guess it’s because of the constant flurry of activity and changing demands. But study after study has shown that focusing on only one task is far more efficient than switching between multiple tasks all at once. We lose so much efficiency when we switch back and forth between tasks.

I plan to try these strategies out and see what happens. Who knows – one day I may be able to combine activity with productivity in the workplace!

The Culture Counts blog is a discussion of law firm culture and legal innovation, including topics such as effective leadership, employee engagement, workplace culture, ideal work environment, company core values, and workplace productivity.  

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