Do you ever feel like your daily routines are cumbersome and slow? Even as a marketing executive in a successful company, it’s quite common for there to be hindrances between you and optimal productivity.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time identify the root causes and make some changes.
What’s holding you back?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a marketing intern at a small online business or the CMO of a billion-dollar corporation, everyone struggles with productivity from time to time. For some of us, we go through ebbs and flows where we’re more productive certain weeks and more distracted others. For some, though, productivity seems elusive virtually 100 percent of the time.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, you need to determine what’s holding you back before you’re actually able to improve daily workflow. In the vast majority of cases, people don’t accomplish goals because of laziness or a lack of motivation.
Laziness — in one form or another — is the most common hindrance. While everyone likes to claim they’re ambitious, the truth is that most of us would prefer to just slide by. Sure, we kick it into high gear when someone is watching, but behind the scenes we put it in “coast” mode.
And then there are times where we suffer from a lack of motivation. This can be the result of any number of issues, but Jeremy Dean, psychological researcher at UCL London, has discovered that depleted motivation is often rooted in fantasizing about performance.
“The problem with positive fantasies is that they allow us to anticipate success in the here and now,” Dean explains. The trouble is that they don’t alert us to the issues we’re likely to encounter along the way. As such, we often feel like we’ve already reached our goals without having actually done anything.
“It’s one way in which our minds own brilliance lets us down,” Dean continues. “Because it’s so amazing at simulating our achievement of future events, it can actually undermine our attempts to achieve those goals in reality.”
4 tips for improving daily workflow
While laziness and motivation are two of the most important root causes to tackle, it takes time to really overcome these intrinsic tendencies. In the meantime, you can begin to improve your daily workflow in tangible ways by utilizing the following tips and tricks.
Tackle the most important tasks in the morning
When you look at some of the most successful people in history — such as Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon — you’ll notice that they woke up early in order to maximize productivity. But they didn’t just wake up early to start crossing things off their respective to-do lists. They understood that by waking up early, they’d be able to get the most important tasks out of the way while they were sharp.
“We often assume that productivity means getting more things done each day,” says James Clear, an expert in behavioral psychology. “Wrong. Productivity is getting important things done consistently. And no matter what you are working on, there are only a few things that are truly important.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday morning or Monday morning, you should always tackle the most important tasks first thing in the morning. This allows you to maximize your energy and leaves you with the rest of the day to enjoy. Once you’ve completed the most important task, the rest of the day seems like a breeze.
Know when to disconnect
Think about an average day in your life and consider what percentage of your waking hours is spent with some sort of electronic device (smartphone, tablet, computer, etc.). The thing about these devices is that they don’t even have to be actively “in use” to be distracting. At any given moment, these devices can ring, ding or spit out a notification that forces you to respond.
While we like to write off our constant connection to electronic devices as a “necessity” in an ultra-connected business world, the reality is that it’s more of an addiction.
According to this blog post by Stephanie Chretien of La Capitale, “The more we are used to staying connected and always being in the loop, the more we find ourselves checking for messages. If we don’t, we feel a certain anxiety.”
There are times when you can’t disconnect, but there are also plenty of times when it’s okay to pull the plug. For example, try disconnecting during lunch, breaks and at least one hour prior to falling asleep. These little windows of solitude will prove to be extremely beneficial.
Do away with pointless meetings
Glance over your weekly agenda and count the number of meetings you have scheduled. Whether they’re Skype calls, conference calls, or physical meetings, these eat away a ton of time. And, quite frankly, the majority of meetings (or at least the majority of time spent in meetings) are pointless.
The proof is in the numbers. According to research, 63 percent of meetings have no planned agenda. Roughly half — 45 percent to be exact — are internal staff meetings. (This shows that we’d much rather sit around in a circle and focus on ourselves than meeting with clients.) Only 21 percent of meetings are comprised of “information sharing.” Finally, 73 percent of attendees openly admit to doing other work during meetings.
In other words, most meetings are a waste of time. If you want to improve your daily workflow, it’s time to eliminate superfluous meetings and utilizing your time in a smarter way. Keep meetings to just 10 or 15 minutes and always start on time. Once people realize that meetings will be short and to the point, the entire culture will change.
Recognize when to delegate
You didn’t get to where you are by avoiding responsibility. However, as CMO, you have too much on your plate to handle every little detail that you once did. It’s important that you recognize when to delegate time consuming tasks to others so you can focus on what really matters.
Specifically, you should be delegating tasks that (1) Are outside of your area of expertise, (2) Are constantly changing due to regulations and technology, and (3) Don’t directly impact business growth.
Once you start to loosen the grip you have on time-consuming tasks, you’ll find that it’s actually relatively simple to delegate. As a result, you’ll find it easier to improve your daily workflow and get more done.
Take action ASAP
Improving daily workflow requires a short-term and long-term approach. The short-term approach involves utilizing the tips highlighted in this article. By doing things like disconnecting from electronics and eliminating frivolous meetings, you can enhance your daily productivity.
The long-term approach involves tackling the root issues of laziness and a lack of motivation. Nobody is accusing you of getting where you are through laziness, but just remember that we all have these tendencies buried deep within us. By acknowledging this and establishing an environment that’s conducive to better daily workflows, you can overcome your bad habits.
Regardless of how you tackle your daily projects, it’s imperative that you act quickly. Your company and career may very well depend on how you handle issues like these.
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