How to be Productive at Work

productivity working Mar 15, 2019

Being productive at work can be challenging (because you're working with other humans) but it is possible to overcome these challenges and be productive at work.

In this post, I will share how to deal with the "got 5 minutes" question plus give you four barriers you can use to create a productive work environment.

Before we get started

What you're about to learn will involve you setting boundaries and perhaps retraining your co-workers. While this may seem strange, it needs to happen.

You can't hope that as you change your co-workers will too.

Chances are good that there is a small percentage of people in your life who violate your time-space on a regular basis. These are people who stop by your office for "gotta a minute?"

In all that I teach you, please be professional.

How to deal with “got 5 minutes”

Has this ever happened to you?

Someone comes into your office or stops you in the hall and asks you, “hey, got 5 minutes?”

You already know: 5 minutes is never, ever 5 minutes.

Okay. Maybe never…but rarely.

My advice: let your no be no.

If you truly don’t have time, tell them so firmly and professionally. But don’t give in no matter how much they beg. Stay strong.

Offer them time later when you can give them time.

If they persist, and you do have 5 minutes, then:

In front of them (this is important!), open the timer on your smartphone, set it for 4 minutes, hit start, and say GO! (Why 4 minutes instead of 5? Because no one stops on time.)

They will probably ask you, “are you serious?”

To which you will reply,  “yes, and now you have 4 minutes and 45 seconds.”

Be sure to tell them when there are is only 1 minute left. This shows them you are serious.

If they tell you that that won’t work, say “I have 15 minutes at 2 pm available. Will that work for you?”

If they agree, say “great…see you then.” At this point, break eye contact or, if you're someplace other than your office, walk away. Do not stay and chat or else you'll lose control.

However, if they say it can’t wait and it’s really important, you’ll have to judge for yourself whether to break your rule or not.

When they show up later, be sure to give the courtesy of all of your attention. Again, training them.

Barriers in the office

There are several things you can do to set yourself up for productive success when you're at work. Here are four ways to do this:

1. Get rid of the chairs in your office if you are able to.

People who sit are more likely to overstay their welcome. They get comfortable. People won’t stand for too long and they won’t sit on the floor.

If you can’t get rid of the chairs, put books, files, folders, and papers in them - taking away the option of sitting.

2. Share your calendar! You can share your calendar on Outlook without sharing what is on your calendar. Show people you are busy this way.

3. Get a ginormous wall calendar and put major projects and events on it for all to see.

You want others to KNOW how busy you are.

Remember, you are retraining the people who have been violating your time for a while.

4. The power of no. Do you HAVE to go to that 2-hour meeting? Do you HAVE to go to the company 3-hour lunch? Do you HAVE to be included in the REPLY ALL email chain?

Think about this: when you are saying YES to anything, you have no idea how many people or things you are saying no to because you can’t see into the future. (Or can you?)

Your turn

How do you stay productive at work?

Share your insights below.

Click here to take the productivity quiz and see how productive you really are.

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