Management is all about handling your assignments in a productive manner alongside your team and everyone else involved.
You have to deal with practical problems to solve on a day-to-day basis. Failing to build productive habits is inevitably going to let you down. Productivity techniques are often viewed as the holy grail for managers, executives, freelancers and consultants across the globe.
If your productivity has been suffering lately, check out those five productivity tips and boost your daily efficiency.
Pomodoro is a popular productivity technique that relies on allocating short chunks of time dedicated on work.
A single Pomodoro takes 25 minutes and requires you to fully focus on one specific task. Once it is done, you take a five-minute break and repeat the cycle multiple times.
Every three to four Pomodoros you take a longer break (25 to 30 minutes) where you can refresh and spend a moment preparing for the next batch of tasks.
Pomodoro is really efficient if you can break your assignments down to under or up to 25 minutes.
By default, we create complex tasks that take hours or more at a time. I often advise breaking every single task into small, independent pieces that are easy to focus on and complete within an hour or two at best.
Even if you don't organize your entire business day around Pomodoro, it's still a great framework to plan a couple of hours in the morning and complete your planning task in a Pomodoro manner.
For instance, if you're in management, spending the first couple of hours cleaning up emails, reassigning tasks, and reviewing work progress across multiple projects can easily be scheduled with this productivity technique.
2. 1-3-5 list
Due to the simplicity of this framework, I use it to shape my high-end strategy for the day.
The one-three-five (1-3-5) list dictates that you allocate the daily work into three different buckets:
- 1 priority task
- 3 midlevel tasks
- 5 low hanging fruits
There are multiple ways to approach your agenda: starting with the priority one first or leaving it for the end.
You always accomplish at least one big win every single day. And you take care of the nitty-gritty but quick and necessary details while pushing some other long-term tasks in-between.
If you're familiar with Getting Things Done, which is another power productivity technique, you may see some similarities between both strategies.
However, the 1-3-5 list is really easy to follow without thinking too much about the processes that you need to focus on.
3. The bucket technique
My assistant, Tai, has adopted this in some of our internal processes, and I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
The team in my advisory firm works on numerous tasks on a weekly basis. Some related to content curation, research, video editing, compiling blog posts, repurposing content and so forth.
Most of this work requires me to spend time on those activities (review, approve or edit suggestions or simply produce content as required). Since my time is limited, the team has to fully understand the recurring priorities we are focusing on and how much information I need to get the job done.
Enter the bucket technique, which is designed around buckets of data for every initiative you work on.
Time is best spent when you fully focus on a single activity instead of spreading yourself too thin, bouncing between different tasks that require different skills.
For example, whenever I have a couple of spare hours to go through the queue, I may pick up video clips to review, video content topics to produce or jump on some drafts for blog posts. Or maybe review the social media calendar and the posts pending approval.
My team and I agree on the size of the particular queue and how many draft pieces or suggestions I need for this.
This ensures that in every sprint (which is whenever I have the time) I can go through a sufficient number of suggestions and unblock their work without running out of ideas.
Additionally, since the buffer size is clear, the team doesn't spend unnecessary time coming up with too many suggestions before I find the time to review them.
The bucket list technique works individually (whenever you need to prepare drafts/ideas) and within a team (whenever you need to assign tasks to other team members and want to agree on reasonable quotas per activity).
4. The Done-Done technique
A lesson I learned from Chris Lima, my friend at Liquid Web and senior consultant, the Done-Done technique is designed to clearly figure out whether a job is complete.
As simple as it may sound, we all know that whenever we talk to teammates and ask if a job is done, we get different variations of affirmation.
Have you completed your daily assignment?
Yeah, it's done.
But is it really Done-Done?
Well, just a couple of bits to polish, but it's almost there.
A legitimate conversation that you will often encounter when you employ the Done-Done technique, especially as a management principle.
Coach your team and let them know how Done-Done works. It teaches your team the required discipline and importance of quality of detail. You stop spending time reviewing subpar work that hasn't been done yet.
5. The Definitive Task Breakdown system
When we discussed Pomodoro, we also mentioned how important it is to have tasks that are clearly defined -- simple enough and quick enough to fit within a Pomodoro.
In software engineering, an important object-oriented programming practice is building software that adheres to strong cohesion and loose coupling.
This means that every single task should be simple and clear in terms of doing one thing, and doing it the right way. This limits the number of dependencies and requirements from other pieces of software.
Following this principle, we can break down even seemingly simple tasks into numerous small and easy-to-digest tasks that you can clear out without focusing too much on dependencies, follow-up questions and interrupting your own cycle.
How about writing a blog post? The task at hand could be “Write a blog post about productivity techniques.” It seems simple and straightforward. Right?
But when you think of it, there are so many other variables and subroutines that you need to take care of aside from writing from start to end. For instance, you need to figure out the exact headline that answers the right questions, is SEO optimized and targets the appropriate keywords.
Moreover, you need to figure out the exact productivity techniques you're going to cover, probably do some research, compile a much longer list and then extract the ideas that would make the most sense for the specific piece. You'll probablly research some statistics, charts, graphs and videos that you would embed into the post.
Then, you come up with the preface and conclusion that wrap everything together. You'll also prepare social media content ideas for sharing and repurposing. Sometimes you may need help with editing, interviewing people for the piece or just asking folks to chime in with ideas.
So, whenever you break all these down into small separable tasks, it's a lot easier to move forward, achieve progress and even break down a complex assignment that takes hours into smaller steps to getting the job done in a streamlined manner.
There are endless ways to boost your productivity as long as you’re diligent and observant enough to recognize activities that eat up too much of your time. Through automation and applying best practices, you can leverage shortcuts and proven methodologies for success.
What is your favorite productivity strategy?
Mario Peshev is the CEO of DevriX, a global WordPress agency as well as serving as a career and SME advisor, and author of the recently published book recently wrote "126 Steps to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur: The Entrepreneurship Fad and the Dark Side of Going Solo." Follow him on Twitter @no_fear_inc and connect on LinkedIn.