In business, productivity is on everyone’s mind, yet, many find it difficult to achieve on an on-going basis. Whether it’s the phone, an incoming email, or a long to-do list – there are distractions aplenty! Training professionals may think this sounds too familiar – they often juggle tasks such as conducting training needs analysis, training delivery and performance management, while simultaneously thinking about business strategy and performance.
Here at Administrate, we focus on helping training professionals be on top of their game; with that in mind, we asked our team to delve into their knowledge and come up with their top tips for staying productive as a training professional. Read on for the results!
Befriend your Flow
Achieving and maintaining focus could be the No. 1 factor in being more productive. Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “flow” to describe this state of being so utterly immersed in an activity, that time and space seem to disappear. Working at this heightened level can be miraculous for your productivity, but you have to create conditions that enable flow:
- Deactivate all alerts from your phone/computer
- Switch off your email
- Tell your team when you can be reached
- Close tabs on your browser
Setting aside clear time just for yourself and your work can really help to spike your productivity.
Organise, Organise, Organise
This might be the most common advice on how to increase productivity, and there’s no lack of guidance on how to stay organised out there! From using apps, notebooks, calendars, it’s easy to be intimidated by too much choice. At Administrate, we have one book that must be read by everyone who joins the company – it’s called Getting Things Done by David Allen.
In the book, David explains that regardless of the medium, you always need to be specific with your tasks. Create a list of everything that needs to be done, at or outside of work. This will help de-clutter your mind and make you feel more at ease. Once this is done, write down the specific steps you need to take to move each project forward. For instance, you might need to provide a senior staff member with a quarterly training outcomes report. What’s the first step you need to take here? Do you need to review KPIs for each staff member? Or maybe email someone from HR? Be as specific as possible and review your list on a daily basis. Knowing where to start can save you loads of time.
Establish Daily Rituals
We’re all creatures of habit! Even though habits come naturally to us, not all of them are good. In 2010 UCL conducted a study which showed that adopting a new habit can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days. That could be potentially disastrous to productivity if we’re accumulating too many bad habits!
Wherever you are, stop for a second and think about the habits that are killing your productivity, and which ones support it? Devise a plan on how to replace the bad habits with the good ones. If part of your job as a training manager is to monitor trainers’ performance, make a habit of keeping the log up to date, rather than updating it at the end of the month. Or, if you always have a backlog of 50 emails, make sure you reply to emails that won’t require more than 2-3 minutes of your time.
Be Protective of your Time
Time management is often the hardest practice to implement. Life can be too complicated for us to be able to account for each minute of our day, and it only takes one unpredicted event to throw us off-track.
Sound time-management could be the single biggest contributor to increased productivity in the long-term. Look at your calendar and see what’s your biggest time-consumer. Do you spend most of your time in training? Do you have too many meetings to attend? Think carefully about what your key goals are and what activities will bring you closer to achieving them. Here are a few pointers to help you extract a few extra hours from your day:
- Set strict time limits on meetings - recognise digressions and ineffective discussions and cut them short. For more tips on running successful meetings, see our recent article here.
- Delegate – delegating tasks will free up a lot of time and energy, and can be a great way of giving more responsibility to other team members.
- Group interruptions – do you always have people stopping by to ask you something? Too many interruptions can prevent you from ever achieving flow. To avoid this, let your team members know when and how you can be reached.
Today, perfectionism is romanticised as the holy grail of professionalism. While perfection is crucial during heart surgery or a space mission launch, in most of our everyday lives it can do more harm than good.
Striving for perfection can drastically reduce your productivity as you expend more time and more energy trying to improve something that is often already good enough. Look at the task at hand and be practical about it. If you need to prepare a workshop for a training session next week, trust your expertise and stop working on it once you’ve finalised the content and structure. Over-analysing and changing it will not only make you feel exhausted, but it will undermine your confidence in delivering it to your students. Instead, do your best with the time you have and then learn from that experience, applying incremental changes as you go.
Hopefully our advice proves to be helpful in your quest for maximum productivity! Do you have your own productivity tips we can learn from? Share it with us in the comments section below.
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