Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Get More Sh*t Done

I have a friend who is a super successful marketing executive. She also happens to be a fantastic chef. I'm always in awe of her work + recreational feats. Where does she find the time? It's been said that we all have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce... But does everyone get as much sh*t done as Queen Bae?

My friend says one of the reasons she loves her marketing job is because she knows how to do her work efficiently. Consequently, she's not totally wiped by the time she gets home from her 9-5, and she has the energy and motivation to whip up gourmet meals.

Hearing this was an aha moment. Not to get all Carrie Bradshaw, but in a culture where people value face time at work vs. face time with family, can working women really have it all? I'll save that debate for another post. But I will say here that there's something to be said for working efficiently. Get your sh*t done and then focus on cultivating other skills and participating in hobbies that make you happy.

But perhaps the best time saver of all is finding a career that already encompasses everything you're looking for. For many people, finding true fulfillment from work sounds like a pipe dream simply because ideal jobs don't seem to exist. Some leave it at that, while others carve out their own paths. There's no right answer. But one thing is for sure: no matter what you do, you have to do you. One of my gurus, Martha Beck, says we're living in a wild new world and being uniquely you is what's going to make for success.

Regardless of your type of job and/or ambitions, now is the time to capitalize on your personal strengths, and to start working smart. We have technologies that have the potential to be incredibly helpful and time-saving. But at the same time, these technologies have the potential to wreak havoc on our concentration.

The November issue of Women's Health features an article entitled "Get More Sh*t Done." Author Kate Ashford provides "productivity hacks" for being more successful at work and in social spheres. She advises that readers should do the following:

  1. Free up mornings by checking e-mail first thing in the AM. Then take 90 minutes to focus on work unrelated to just catching up on e-mail.
  2. Adjust e-mail settings to eliminate constant flashes that can be distracting. 
  3. When it comes to internet browsing and social media, save it for later. Ashford recommends downloading the app Pocket which allows people to save articles from different sources in one spot. 
  4. Don't use social media as a reward for hitting a deadline or even during a work break. "You don't get the benefit of a break since leisure computer time uses the same part of your brain as work computer time." Instead, take a walk outside or reward yourself with a java.
  5. If you're really hooked on social media, "install an anti-distraction program like Cold Turkey, LeechBlock, or Anti-Social, which should bar you from the sites that attract you the most."
  6. Create some distance between yourself and your phone. "Leave your phone in your bag or in a drawer. If it takes effort to check it, you're less likely to pick it up for every little ping."
  7. "Keep your favorite apps off [your] home screen... Axe temptation so it can't lure you." 
  8. Set the scene. "There's a reason-beyond the caffeine-that Starbucks is a great place to get work done. The whir of expresso machines and customer chatter can create just enough white noise to spark creativity, research suggests. Download Coffitivity, an app that plays an ambient coffeehouse soundtrack, to score those perks from home."
  9. Dealing with distracting coworkers? "Disappear. Book a conference room or empty office for yourself, or hunker down in a nearby diner and bang that project out." And if necessary, put up a wall. Hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign or strategically place a stack of books or other objects to be a visible barrier between yourself and your colleagues. 
  10. To make meetings more productive, stand up. Standing meetings are, not surprisingly, shorter than seated pow-wows. Plus, workers report they feel more engaged when standing. 
For those folks who work at home:
  1. Get dressed. Wearing pi's signals the brain that it's time to relax, not be in work mode. Put on whatever makes you feel "pulled together and proficient."
  2. Create a schedule for yourself, clearly delineating time for work vs. time for chores like dishes or laundry. 
  3. Set up shop in front of a window if it's energizing and inspirational for you, or if you easily get distracted by what's going on outside, hunker down out of site. 
  4. Let your friends and family know that even if you're home, you're not necessarily available. You may need to create boundaries and not answer personal calls during your designated work time.
  5. If you need noise, download Coffitivity (see above) or put on the radio. "Background" TV may seem harmless but you can easily get sucked into watching the boob tube and slacking on the task at hand. 
In all work scenarios, do what you have to do to be your most productive self. Soon enough you'll be getting more sh*t done than Queen Bae.


P.S. Check out this related Refinery29 web read.

P.P.S. Check out this Cupcakes & Cashmere guide to working from home.

["Get More Sh*t Done" Women's Health, November 2014]

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