It takes a lot of work to be productive. If you are not on top of your time, then the day will get away from you and very little gets done. We all make lists of the tasks that we want to accomplish, yet for many in the workforce the distractions get the upper hand daily.
The most unproductive days of the year have to be the day you return from vacation. That day is spent weeding through the paper piled up on your desk, listening to stories and updates from staff members and an inbox of emails that number into the hundreds. What appalls me though is that even though your company is paying you to play catch-up all day, for some employees they can milk this period of catch-up for a week or more.
I once had a potential client tell me that she was unable to talk with me that week because she was preparing to be gone on vacation the following week. Fair enough I thought, as she wants to ensure that things run smoothly when she is gone. So I asked to get on her calendar the week she returns, and she said she would not be available since that week she has to go through all her emails. So I asked for time the following week and she clarified by saying that the first week back was to read her emails, and the second was to respond to them. Were you counting with me? One week to prepare to be gone, one week to be gone, one week to read emails and one week to respond to emails. We landed up finding time to talk the following week.
Being productive is hard work. It requires each of us to focus on doing the most we can each and every day we are getting paid, in order to move our agenda forward. Our companies are paying us to be productive, so we should work towards giving them their money’s worth each day.
Daily tasks lists do a lot to provide focus, but they should also be paired with master task list for each month, and they should be tied to annual productivity plans and goals. It is not rocket science, but it does require both work and a sense of accountability.