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Thought Leadership 30 November 2014

My Productivity Manifesto

We live, and work, in a world that’s completely connected. My iPhone syncs to my laptop, my calendar syncs with my wife’s calendar, school newsletters come via email and Facebook keeps me in touch with everyone else that’s important (and not quite so important) in my life.

And that’s a great thing! As Insights’ Chief Technology Officer, it’s my responsibility to make sure that our business is always on and fully functioning, 24 hours a day. As a global business, we don’t have the luxury of switching off our laptops at 5pm and skipping off home. Our customers live across different time zones, and therefore we do too. Being ever present is critical to our business.

But I think there’s a major difference between ‘always on’ and ‘always on top of your game’. And one doesn’t necessarily equate to the other. Just because I can check my emails before I drop off to sleep, does it mean I should? And just because Facebook tells me that my friend has posted another picture of his kitten, should I feel compelled to like it? In truth, I think ‘always on’ leads to lower productivity, simply because we never get the chance to reboot and recharge.  So I've written a Productivity Manifesto and I'm going to stick to it.

My Productivity Manifesto

  1. When it comes to your inbox, only enter if you’re ready for action. If you’re eating, socialising, or just chilling – Leave. Your. Inbox. Alone.
  2. Go into Airplane Mode. Sometimes my mind only feels clear when I’ve switched off my wifi; there’s no internet to surf or emails to reply to. Just the task at hand and a clear mind. 
  3. Map your productivity periods: if you’re most productive in the evenings, don’t start checking emails at 8am and work right through the day. Sleep later, take a walk or get some chores done. Sync your workload to your productive periods to maximise your effectiveness. 
  4. Eliminate the extras. Set up email rules to keep your inbox under control, unsubscribe from mail shots you signed up for last year, and never, ever sign up to a webinar thinking ‘if I don’t make it, I can always listen to the recording later’. You won’t.
  5. Make your space productive. Get happy with your space, keep key things close at hand, dump anything that distracts you, put tunes on if it helps, and make sure you’ve got a good view. Whatever it is, it’s your workspace and it has to work for you, not against you. 

It’s hard to tune out from the technology that simultaneously makes our lives simpler and much, much more complex. But I think we have to try; always on is for organisations, not the people who work in them.

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