How To Be More Productive During Your Work Day
November 1, 2019
My name is Lolita Vasquez and I’m an Entrepreneur. ::waves once::
I don’t just focus on one business, but have my hand in a lot of things! I work remotely as a project manager for a web development company in The Bay Area and am an event manager for a marketing firm based out of Sacramento. I’m also a published Sacramento Wedding Photographer and manage my photo studio in Old Sacramento, CA. I love to travel and am an independent travel agent. I’m an Aquarius and have an affection for humanitarianism, and am the reigning Ms. California State United America. I also play a mean Trombone and my guilty pleasure TV Show is Jersey Shore; Family Vacation.
Because I have my hand in 345,390 different things every day, it’s super important that I’m disciplined and intentional in everything that I do in my schedule. I’m constantly hopping in and out of things all day long, and it’s taken a few years for me to figure out what worked for me while working remotely getting organized. Here are a few things that I’ve found helpful in my workflow. I hope that this information may help encourage you to find what works best to maximize your time.
Block It Out – Block out chunks of hours in your day where you don’t answer anyone’s calls, texts, or DMs. This is the time of day when I tackle everything that doesn’t have to do with actually talking to people. After that time is done, I usually schedule in 30 mins to catch up on messages that I might have missed. A great book called “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson has a short section that speaks very much to this way of thinking called “Interruption is the enemy of productivity.” I recommend checking it out when you can.
Make a List – Every night before I go to bed, I make a list of all the tasks I want to have done. Then, I number them, ranking what’s most important to do first to what can wait until later. Then, if something comes up during the day to where there is a task that I need to address, I write it down in the same notebook, either re-ranking it to be done during the day, or in a section of the page I call “Parking Lot” to maybe add to my new list of tasks for the next day.
Schedule Your Deadlines – Not everything has to be done at once! Sometimes, it may feel like it but it’s just not true. When someone asks me to do something for them and I can’t do it right at that second, I set clear expectations on when I CAN get it done. Do you mind if I can get that done for you later?” isn’t enough. “I’m in the middle of something else right now. Can I help you with this tomorrow… Maybe around 1p? Do you have time for a quick call to go over what you need then?” This way, not only are you making time for yourself to really scope out what you need to do, the requester is going to let you be until you have time to help them.
The Pomodoro Technique – After deciding what tasks I want to tackle and in which order I want to tackle them, I work for 25 mins and take a break for 5 mins. This helps me focus on the task at hand, knowing that I’ll have 5 mins later to check Facebook, get a quick mental break, and not have FOMO. (Fear of missing out.)
No-Meeting Rule – I avoid meetings that are longer than 30 mins like the plague! In tech, there is something we like to call check-ins, or Scrums where every stakeholder/team member gives a 2 mins update on what they’re working on for the day and mentions any sort of issues they may need help with. The quick update rule is stern. If there needs to be more conversation on any sort of task, the people involved have a conversation about it after scrum, as to not soak up too much of everyone else’s time. Usually, scrums last 10-20 mins. I get that sometimes, long meetings are unavoidable. But really, how much are you getting accomplished if you’re not physically working on tasks you’re talking about in the meeting itself? Basically what I’m saying is: If you’re in a meeting, that means you’re not doing the actual work. (“Rework” has a small, “Come To Jesus” section called “Meetings are toxic.” I highly recommend!) I usually suggest we have scrums/check-ins in the morning rather than in the evening, if at all possible.
Make Time For Me Time – You literally can’t work and have no play. Your brain will explode. Schedule in an hour or two to do something for yourself every single day. This may be tough if you have a family, but then maybe plan to do something with them. What I love to do is to cook dinner with my husband, hang out with my cats and soak in our hot tub for a little while. The key to this point is to PLAN and put it in your calendar and schedule. Don’t just hope you’ll be able to relax during the week. It’ll never happen to you! Take it from someone who has 89,0493 tasks every day: You don’t have to get it ALL done in one day. Stay organized and be kind to yourself with something you like to do every day.
Don’t Drink During The Week – I’ve stopped having adult beverages during the week. Even if it’s just one glass of wine with dinner, I’ve found myself to be more sluggish in the morning when I’m trying to start my day. I simply can’t get my mind right if my body doesn’t feel right. Cheers to the freakin’ weekend! ($1 to Rihanna.)
Okay, now go rock on with your bad selves.
~ Lolita Vasquez, Lolita Vasquez Photography
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson