Do you hate delegating work and prefer to multitask instead? You wouldn’t be alone if you do. Despite the creative and productive benefits of having good delegation skills, many managers still secretly believe they have to be some sort of superhuman, multitasking octopus.
If you really can’t stand the thought of sharing the workload, or just don’t have the resources around you to do it effectively, it’s a good idea to keep some low-cost, quick-win productivity hacks up your sleeve for when things get tough.
- Shared email – Shared inboxes and collaborative email could be the new way to regain your email productivity. If you find yourself passing on emails or endlessly cc’ing others in to do the work anyway, generic email inboxes could be for you. By allowing others to collaborate on conversations and automatically assigns generic email addresses to the company such as: admin@, contactus@ or sales@. A decent archive will also mean you don’t need to wade through all the junk to delete everything. The result will be a team that’s easier to contact but one that won’t get swamped.
- Focus boosters – There are hundreds of blogs out there giving you wild and whacky ways of boosting your concentration levels. They can include everything from daily yoga workouts to caffeine pills. Whatever you choose, it’s worth having something up your sleeve ahead of very busy schedules or important meetings. Chewing gum, a daily run, chocolate, walnuts, rubbing crystals, morning meditation, a diary… whatever works for you. Also, if you find it hard to focus and if you’re often procrastinating, you’re probably overloaded with too many small tasks that look the same. Try and prioritize each day and get a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and by when.
- Put your evenings in a protective bubble – Whether it’s in the evenings or during weekends, out-of-hours emailing recently came under fire in the press and has been blamed for killing off the UK’s collective business productivity. Former Government advisor Sir Cary Cooper recently told the BBC there was an ‘email epidemic’ and that employees were becoming less and less productive as they became more hooked on inbox zeroing. He is now urging companies to ‘ban internal emails’ in favour of face-to-face meetings and to monitor out of hours emailing. He added that employees needed automatic alerts to tell them how many emails they were sending out or responding out of regular office hours.
- Reclaim your ‘lost’ hours – Commuting to work can murder up to four hours a day for many managers. Whether it’s sitting on a train or sitting in traffic, lost hours can be a killer. Imagine sitting in the office for just 30mins with your arms folded doing nothing – you might get some very funny looks from your team. Try and fill wasted time. If driving, use a voice memo app to plan your day (limit its use to when the car is stopped in traffic please). If on the train, use the time – even if it’s just to plan out the day ahead.
- Track your time to find more – Consider using time management or work planning software such as: Wrike, Toggle or Yast. There’s a lot out there and they can really help boost your day and stop you from procrastinating or getting lost in smaller tasks that can clog up your day. Experiment with what works best for you, whether you want a platform that you can involve your team with or just an app for yourself.
- Find some ‘me time’ – If you’re really up against it to meet a project deadline, it can help to control the flow of new work or communications coming in. If you don’t have a log cabin in the woods to go and hide yourself in or a secretary who can ‘hold your calls’, you need to be your own effective gatekeeper. Put your out of office on for a few hours, let calls go to voicemail and watch your productivity rocket.
- Weapons of Mass Distraction – A weekly quiz or an office dartboard can be hugely effective secret weapons. You can instantly inject productivity and morale into your team by embracing something incredibly simple. Google is perhaps the best-known company for embracing the benefits of positive distractions. Its offices work hard to merge work and fun at every opportunity to invigorate employees thinking. Of course, you don’t need the budget of one of the world’s biggest companies to turn your office into a creative haven however. If you haven’t room for a dart board, a pool table or a table tennis table, organize a team quiz every Wednesday afternoon. It’s not a waste of time and it’s not about ditching your day’s work in favour of playing pool – it’s about offering a quick distraction. Anything that gets people up and out of their chairs briefly to refresh their brains. Try it. Have a five minute game of darts in a corner of the office and see the instant morale and productivity benefits.
- Keep meetings to 30mins – Just because your Outlook calendar automatically sets a meeting at an hour doesn’t mean it has to be. The truth is that most meetings can be shortened to 30mins, without rushing. Most people can’t concentrate much longer and meetings often end up spiraling off into tangents and new subjects anyway. Cut down your agenda, make 30-minute meetings the default setting for your team and watch their effectiveness rocket.
Delegating is a key skill for every manager but it is worth not overusing it and boosting your own productivity as well. If you want to know more about great productivity hacks, check out these ten infographics to boost productivity.