This is not a Jeff Foxworthy bit – pinky promise – but if you’re familiar with “the doldrums” you might be a sailor passing through the area where the northeast and the southeast trade winds converge, right between Africa and South America.
Or maybe, just maybe, you’re a huge fan of the Norton Justor classic The Phantom Tollbooth.
No matter how you disambiguate it, the term always refers to a place that’s dull, slow, and listless. Adjectives you probably don’t want to be associated with you or your team, unless you’re professional sloths.
To the point, being unproductive, like those in the doldrums, is something that happens to many of us in the summer. Whether it’s the heat, the vacation dreams, or just a busy time that’s got you feeling sluggish, it’s time to overcome your challenges.
Here are five easy ways to stay productive this summer!
1. Pick three major things that need to get done today and assign a time/deadline to them.
It may sound cliche, but to-do lists are fun for us. Every business is different – and everybody at every business and… you get it – so the items are always going to change. But there’s something about crossing off items off a nicely lined piece of paper, sticky note, or whiteboard.
Whether it be increased dopamine or reduced stress, those check marks and cross-offs do wonders for our brains. When we face a mountain of things and stuff, we can’t just remember all of it and hope we cross every T. But when that box gets ticked, it’s proof we did the thing.
Speaking of crossing things off, there are some ways tech can help with crossing things off your to-do lists. Our CEO, Reed Wilson, has given presentations on the ways to best leverage Microsoft Planner and To Do in the past, focusing mostly on how to manage tasks in Outlook while integrating Planner and To Do with Teams using Microsoft Flows.
If you’re looking for specifics on the best fits for your team, we’ve got you covered.
2. Block off time where you are completely unavailable.
No matter what that guy yelling about EXPLODING YOUR GOALS says, there are times that you need to be 100% unavailable to accomplish whatever it is that may have come up that day. And while it may sound a little selfish, your teacher friends, and relatives will wax poetic about their sacred planning period.
You should also consider setting your phone to “Do not disturb” when you really need to get some things done during work. This report from Udemy shows that 69% of Gen Z and millennials admit that the second biggest distraction for them is their smartphone, and turning it off may be more difficult than just moving your phone to the corner of the room.
Blocking off time is much easier than you think. Not only can you use your calendar to block off what you need away from your team during the day, you can also utilize your mobile device to take scheduled breaks.
Sure setting an alarm is great, but did you know you can use your mobile device to schedule daily focus time? Whether you have an Apple or Android device, each provides useful ways for those aiming to become more productive to do so.
3. Take breaks, often.
We said we had a list, not that it wasn’t partially selfish. But when the world is on fire, like Wired said in a recent article, taking breaks and taking care of yourself to avoid overwork and fatigue is critical to success. There are charts and graphs that show what we mean – remember the law of diminishing returns from college? – but the TL;DR is that you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Consider your personal needs, whatever they may be, including the physical toll of your work and your ability to step away during any given part of the work day. At the very least, take a five-minute break from your workstation and stand outside or in a window. Get some water, and most of all, take care of yourself, even if it’s quick between calls.
4. Utilize tech to help stay productive.
Sitting and scrolling through photos of our friends and family on vacation during work hours might not always be the best plan, but utilizing your device to take a planned break can take an otherwise dangerous device and make it more useful.
To take the above-mentioned pre-set breaks can be alarms set on your phone that remind you to take small breaks, essentially the opposite of Focus Time. Sometimes all we need is a small reminder to get our eyes off of works screens and onto something more personal, or even a reminder to get up and walk around.
No matter what it is you pick to capitalize on the tech in your life, there are solutions out there. Don’t believe us? We’d be happy to show you!
5. Be mindful of how you spend your time.
When you find yourself using technology for evil – or to mindlessly scroll through your social feed when you should be working or relaxing harder – make a mental note. Think of something productive you can fill that time with instead, like walking around a local park or playing with your tank of ornate fish.
You could even use the time productively, like taking a skill-up opportunity on the many courses found within places like Online Learning Platform for Businesses on LinkedIn, HubSpot Academy, or anywhere you’d like on YouTube. If taking a break from work is better for you, this could be a perfect time to finish a book you’ve been reading or to earn your Boulder Badge.
Try replacing something mindless with something thought-provoking and you’ll feel more accomplished at the end of the day and ride a dopamine high into your next work task!
Productivity revolves around the idea of getting the things you need to get done finished so you can spend more time on the things you want to do. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of things we could do in a given day. Remember- your self-worth isn't measured by how productive you are or how much you’ve contributed to your company or manager. We're all trying to figure this thing out. Some days we're superstars, others we're lucky to get a few to-dos done. Hopefully, these tips will help you manage those days you aren't feeling productive.
For more information on how to stay productive this summer, give us a call at (864) 552-1291 and we'll help you evaluate your capabilities and options. Also, sign up for PTG Tech Talk for bi-monthly tech news and consider following us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter!