Do high achievers approach their days and their work differently than most people? How do they become so efficient and productive?
1) Batch your meetings.
Batch checking emails has become a common productivity tip. The idea is that you only look at your inbox two to three times a day or pause notifications for a period of time so that you can focus on work without distractions.
Batching meetings, calls, or virtual events can be equally effective. Research from Ohio State University has shown that when we have a meeting coming up in the next hour or two, we get 22% less work done compared to when we have no upcoming meetings at all.
Think about it. What do you find yourself doing before a Teams call with your colleague, a virtual team update, or a one-on-one meeting with your boss? You’re most likely thinking about what you’re going to say, deliberating questions, or rehearsing some kind of a presentation. It’s hard to get into flow when you know you have a major interruption around the corner.
Consider creating rules around your own schedule. If you are most alert in the mornings, try to schedule your most demanding tasks and meetings early on, and leave the afternoons open for some quiet work hours.
Microsoft MyAnalytics is great for making AI-powered suggestions in Outlook to help you set aside focus time before your week fills up with meetings, stay on top of tasks and emails, and follow up with important people.
2) Nudge your way to better behavior.
If you’re trying to set better work habits, small behavioral hacks can lead to the biggest payoffs. MyAnalytics on outlook can send you insights on how you spend your time, which can help you identify opportunities for new habits that you’d like to start.
Booking focus time in advance will help you eliminate any distractions when you are working on that upcoming presentation deck or detailed document that you need to turn in.
Multitasking impairs our performance because when we process tasks in parallel, our brains are actually switching our attention from one activity to another. When switching, our brains struggle to cleanly discard the first task and move on to the next one. Constant switching creates “attention residue” and prevents us from following a train of thought long enough to generate innovative ideas.
3) Batch process emails 2 to 3 times per day.
Processing emails constantly throughout the day subjects us to lower productivity and increased stress. It takes us longer than we think to fully return to a task after an interruption. Research shows that it takes 23 minutes to get back on task after an interruption and 16 minutes when the interruption is specifically email.
Schedule “email time” in your outlook calendar everyday, and practice that new habit through monitoring how well you are doing through MyAnalytics dashboard. Share success with your team and celebrate your new productive habit.