Updated: Jan 16
As a project management professional, I’ve discovered numerous productivity robbers over the years.
If I want to move my project forward and avoid getting stuck while achieving the project milestones, I’ve needed to adopt healthy productivity habits.
We all want to be productive and while being productive is important, it should not be at the expense of creativity, self-care or workflow.
Yes, as project managers, our days are filled with meetings, emails, conference calls and actually getting the work done.
Many of those tasks can be time robbers that entails sitting all day and not being active.
I’ve made some incremental changes in my routine that you may want to consider integrating as part of your daily habits today.
I’ve found the following four habits have helped me to increase my output with positive side effects around improving my physical and mental health.
Walking meeting. Now I’m not talking about the meetings with senior leadership—but if they are receptive to a walking meeting, please let me know! I’m referring to that impromptu meeting requested by your team member or a peer who stops by and asks, “hey do you have a minute?” Which usually never takes a minute…By taking that impromptu meeting as a walking meeting, communicates to the other parties that you are working on a limited schedule, forcing the communication to be succinct and to the point. There is no dawdling or time wasting because your attendees have less time to get settled. It is a great way to accomplish your meeting objective in minimal time and get some steps in your day.
Let’s grab frozen yogurt or coffee. Gone are the days of lengthy lunch meetings. Half the people I know barely take a true lunch break. When you do get down to business, your scheduled one-hour lunch meeting has now stretched to two-hours. Going for a walk and grabbing a yogurt or coffee shortens the commitment, compelling the parties to get to the point. You can still achieve small talk—which is important to building relationships. I enjoy a walk to grab yogurt because it allows both parties a break from the office to grab a treat, and a sweet treat makes everyone happy!
Take conference calls – standing. I know what you’re thinking. What difference does it make whether I sit or stand during a conference call? It can make a tremendous difference. Sitting during a conference call, especially in my office at my desk, opens the door for distractions. While I think I’m being more productive by answering emails and trying to multitask during the call, I’m actually stifling the productivity of the call because I’m splitting my focus. By standing while on the call, I accomplish a couple of different things. First, by standing, I am able to focus solely on the call, staying in tune to what’s happening so that I can be an active participant. Secondly, by standing I am able to stick to the agenda and move the meeting along, avoiding time wasters.
Take breaks. I know, it’s easier said than done. But I cannot be my best without refueling. A break allows my mind and body the time to relax and re-calibrate. Here are a few types of breaks to consider:
Short 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day. Are you working on a big project that is stressing you out? Don’t forget to take several small breaks to chop up your day. Take a short walk. Get that frozen yogurt or coffee. Give your mind a break and allow it to recharge.
Reclaim your weekends. We live in a culture where being a workaholic is the norm. We are not strangers to working on the weekends because we don’t stop until the job is done. But, after a full week of long hours, I truly believe the weekend should be reserved for rest. I believe it is important to do the things and be with the people you value. Do something to remove yourself from work so that you can be better on Monday.
Take a vacation. This is the ultimate break. Completely unplug. Give yourself the time you need to enjoy life and get away. Fill up your happy tank and in the process refuel your creativity and productivity. Return refreshed and ready to give it your all. I always have to remind myself, “no one is going to be harmed if that email is answered when I return.”
I hope you’ve found these productivity tips to be helpful, especially the frozen yogurt! I’m excited to learn which one you will add to your routine. Please share your success in the comments.
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important." – Steven Covey
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