David Coveney

New Year’s Resolutions for Greater Productivity

An infinite blogger.

An infinite blogger.

I don’t talk much about business on this blog, but I’ve decided to share what I’m doing to increase my productivity at work.  So far these changes are making a great deal of difference.

  1. Dump timewasters like the StumbleUpon or Digg toolbars from Firefox for any work related PC.  I love it, but it’s there for entertainment.  This is my work PC and I can’t afford the easy distraction.
  2. Use Twitter more.  I know it sounds like a potential distraction, but by being selective about who I follow I find it adds to my community connection – and that can make me more productive, rather than less.  Don’t be offended if I don’t follow you back – it’s just that what you’re twittering about isn’t connected to what I do, even if it’s very interesting.
  3. Declutter my online life.  That means unsubscribing from mail-lists that I’m not really that interested in, and filtering the rest for reading when I’m not busy.
  4. Declutter business.  All companies have to deal with them – the small clients that constantly ask you lots of niggling questions which never actually lead to a sale or any real income.  Work out a way of politely dumping them.  You could consider referring them on to someone who’s just starting up and who needs the small clients.
  5. Implement proper time-tracking.  Use a simple grid sheet where you can quickly mark units of time against clients and jobs.  That way you can establish where you’re wasting time and money.
  6. Turn off IM except for a short period each day – especially if you have chatty friends.
  7. Use larger monitors.  I now use a 24″ screen at the office and a smaller 22″ at the home office.  Both are dramatically more productive than smaller screens.  And they’re not even especially expensive these days.
  8. Use your laptop like a desktop computer.  By that, I mean get to your desk and connect it a full size monitor (see point 7!), keyboard and mouse.  Use the laptop screen as a secondary screen if you like, but that’s all.  I don’t care what anybody says, but a laptop alone is always less productive unless you’re single-tasking most of the time – and in today’s connected world that’s rare.
  9. Learn to use Outlook.  There’s a lot of great productivity features in there.  Outlook 2007 is especially neat and brings the game on.  Office for the Home or for Small Businesses is pretty cheap these days and well worth it.
  10. Actually, learn to use MS Office properly.  It’s got some amazing tricks available to you.  Excel can gather data from websites and keep it refreshed, so you can use it in your spreadsheets.  Access can make up the basics of a decent CRM system in no time at all.  And if you get a decent MS Word template your documents can be clearly structured and indexed in no time at all.  In fact, if you join at Spectacu.la their WordPress User Guide has all the styles in it that you could ever need for a comprehensive document.

That’s enough for now, but needless to say that a little investment can reap incredible benefits to your work life.  Yes, you’ll need to devote a little time and/or money, but if you gain more of both within a short while then everyone’s happy, no?

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