Earlier this week I was reading an article on how to stay motivated and set routines that enable you to maximise your productivity. I read these types of articles all the time, some are very specific to assistants and other support office staff but generally, they all offer handy hints to simplify your life both in work and at home so that you can get the most from your day. Some of the suggestions are useful and can certainly help improve your productivity. Below are the behaviours I try to use to keep on top of my day and a routine check up you can use to make you more productive as an Assistant.
This could be creating a simple to do list on a piece of paper every day to a much more complex list with subdivisions detailing everything you want to accomplish in life. I am a massive fan of to-do lists… I have lists and then I have lists of lists.
From school age, we are taught how to meet deadlines by prioritising our workload. In a work environment where clients are paying for the end result an even greater respect is placed on finishing the job on time. Where a project deadline is looming obviously there should be an urgency to complete your tasks and these should be prioritised at the top of your list. I hand write a lot of my urgent tasks in an A4 one-day-per page diary which means I can look through the week and see what I need to have completed by the end of each day.
Sleep, swim, rest
Looking after yourself should be an important part of your daily routine. You should try to get enough sleep to feel energised for the following day, exercise regularly and build in 15 minute breaks a few times a day to get away from your screen and clear your mind. This is obviously easier said than done but for my general health and sometimes sake of my sanity I try to get away from my desk at the very minimum of once a day.
We all function better at different times of the day so it is worthwhile figuring out if you are an early bird or night owl and schedule your routine accordingly. I know my energy levels dip around the 3 pm mark which leaves me craving sweets and tea… not a good time for me to start new projects!
Your mind’s eye
A good routine should also include some time for you to plan ahead and also review what you have achieved. If you can spend 10 minutes at the end of the day visualising what the following day will look like, if there will be any obvious distractions and what you would like to achieve you will be better prepared for what lies ahead. I also like to spend a small amount of time going back through my to-do list for the day and putting a big fat red line through everything I’ve completed that day, I find that extremely satisfying!
So as I said at the beginning of this blog there are definitely some good practices you can put in place that will maximise your productivity and keep you motivated. Without question having a routine keeps you focused and in control of your day.
Except, I do have a question…
As an Executive Assistant working for a large insurance company, I am constantly and consistently interrupted. A large part of our role is to be the fountain of knowledge within the company and if you aren’t being asked where the stationary is then you are probably on the phone answering a query about a meeting taking place that day. I would love to work with a routine that enables me to get to the end of the day and feel that I have achieved everything I set out to do, but it is difficult when a large part of your job is to put other people’s urgent needs above your own.
So my question is this, if I were to put together my perfect routine, how difficult will it be to stick to? What obstacles will I met? Will I ever be able to maximise my productivity with constant distractions?
In my next blog, I will publish my perfect, super-duper routine for a working day in the office and then record over the course of a week how I get on implementing it. Will I be able to stick to my routine despite the day’s interruptions and setbacks? We will see…