'Be More Productive' (part 1) project management blog by Jason Womack

Very few projects we work on, we work on in isolation. We manage our habits and routines, change our context, and we tap into our network to get things done.

For your next project, you’re about to take on (or, if you’re far along one right now with room to go and room to grow), consider maximizing the three influencers to your productivity and workplace performance.

Maximize your own workflow.
We do what we normally do. Why is that? And, what does it mean for project thinking and project management? Think about when you first walk into your office and sit down at your desk. There, you begin a series of workplace “moves” that you've designed and practiced over time. If you’re going to work differently (manage time more efficiently, use your systems more effectively, communicate with your co-workers, co-planners differently, etc), you’re probably going to have to do something differently.

So, before you try to incorporate some new workflow methodology, spend a week or so observing what you’re already doing. Keep track of some of your “moves” of work.

- How do you interrupt (and how often) your coworkers?
- What tools or technologies do you rely on to get your work done?
- When you need time to think and plan, how do you create those blocks during the day?

After a week of this semi-focused observation, you may come up with some ideas of how you can specifically and significantly change some of those behaviors to become more efficient through the work day and through project management processes.

Maximize the workflow on the floor
Where you work can have as much an influence over your productivity as your best-laid plans. Meaning, if you know what you have to do but work in an environment that rewards interruption, facilitates distraction, and promotes incompletion, it could be difficult to follow that plan.

For the next week, run an “interruption experiment” with your team. Incorporate some kind of an agenda-tracking system to maximize your interruptions with one another. (Yes, that’s right, maximize interruptions.) If I write down over the course of 2-3 hours the 3-or-more things I need to tell you and then come talk to you at 11:30 in the morning, I saved you 2 extra interruptions that day!

Maximize your network
Building the relationships you THROUGH time will make it easier to ask for help when you need it IN time. Who’s around you who helps you (And, of course, who is around who doesn’t???)? Too often, we wait until we’re behind, the next step in the project is due or we’re completely stressed out before we ask for assistance.

Invite someone to a #CoffeeChat or even a lunch. In the email you send or voice mail you leave, to ask them for some time, and let them know you’d like to “run something by them.” Give them a paragraph or two that describes what you’re working on, and why you think they might be someone who could give you some ideas. Oh, and be sure you’re the one to cover lunch!

How you work, where you work and who you work with all impact your productivity. Take some time today and chart a new course. Use these ideas to enhance your productivity, reduce your stress and get more of the right things done.

Human performance psychologist Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA provides an overview of highly effective workplace performance practices. As an author and executive coach, Jason works throughout the Americas and EMEA to improve workflow and efficiency, coaching senior management and providing sustainable workplace methodologies to front, mid, and back-office support staff.

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