Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You Want to Get Work Done? Try a Productivity Day.

One of my top productivity tips is taking one day a week to work off-site (ideally disconnected). I have been doing this for several months now on most Tuesdays (doesn't quite work when I'm traveling). There are several reasons to do this:
  • Getting into the groove of writing something like a requirements document or a proposal or a presentations takes time. In general, it takes more undisturbed time than most people have. So we never get started.
  • If you are lucky enough to get in the groove, you need at least 1-2 hours of good, focused time to accomplish your goal. This is not going to happen at an office with an open door policy, phones ringing, and Outlook notifications popping up on the screen.
  • If you really take advantage of your off-site day, you can make a big dent in your personal "todo" list and be readily available to serve everybody else for the rest of the week.
  • It's good for you to know that the world will not end if you are not in the office for one day.

This practice was reinforced at the Pragmatic Marketing seminar I attended last month. Our instructor, Steve Johnson, emphasized the importance of this habit, especially as it relates to product management professionals. He has declared Thursday as National Product Management Productivity Day. Obviously, it is a good idea for any job where you have to spend significant time focusing and your reality does not allow for this.

So how do you do it?

  • First you should ask your supervisor. If he or she is hesitant, suggest a trial period followed by an evaluation. With all the awesome work you'll be getting done, it will be a no-brainer.
  • Second, book the entire day in your calendar for the rest of your life so as to discourage scheduling of important meetings on this day.
  • Third, say no to any invites (unless you deem the meeting a life or death matter - not likely) that still come through threatening to ruin your productivity day.
  • And last but not least, find a good, quiet place where you can get some serious work done. I like to work part of the day at home and part of the day at a coffee shop. The library and book stores are other excellent options.

Happy Productivity Day!

2 comments:

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

They say it takes 25 minutes to become productive and the typical workplace has an interruption every 3 minutes. No wonder you can't work at work. It's a sad supervisor who measures you on attendance rather than results. So block a day to work away from your office so you can be productive.

Thanks for the shout-out and I'm glad that you enjoyed my seminar.