A delegate on a recent coaching skills course I ran expressed some surprise that productivity might come up as a coaching topic. We had started talking about ‘time management’, but quickly broadened the discussion to a more inclusive productivity theme.
The inference was that if someone couldn’t manage their time, they wouldn’t last long in a job. That evening, the conversation got me thinking. The need to better manage your time, attention and energy isn’t a development focus only for those at the very start of their careers or at junior levels.
And thinking about my own professional experience, I realised that people at all stages in their career have come to me for coaching around productivity topics.
How can you succeed without these skills?
There are any number of reasons that someone later in their career might need support in this area. Perhaps they had missed out on training in how to prioritise their work earlier in their career. Maybe their work environment valued long hours over efficiency and there was always time to get things done.
Perhaps they’ve been using their weekends to ‘mop up’ unfinished business but finally realised they want to make a change. Or perhaps they’ve encountered a perfect storm of demanding workload and absent colleagues.
One theme I see coming up again and again is the professional who has finally secured that promotion, but quickly realised that their working style needs to change if they’re going to survive and make a success of things.
There are any number of reasons why someone might feel the need to revisit how they organise themselves and manage their workload. I’d hate to think that anyone reading this feels that improving your productivity-related skills isn’t relevant to them – or their more senior colleagues.
Productivity is all about doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.
This high level definition of productivity needs interpretation and implementation in context. So, in coaching professionals on the theme of productivity, this has included helping graduates prioritise their workload. It’s included coaching managers to have a better and more productive relationship with their email inboxes. And coaching organisational leaders to delegate more effectively.
You’re never too old and/or senior to reflect on your working style and consider how it could be improved. Indeed, sometimes some very small changes can make a big difference.
Taking a step back and thinking about what really matters can assist with prioritising your workload. Going for a quick walk around the block can help you to take some deep breaths and put your ‘crisis’ into context. Reaching out to a colleague for input to help you understand the limitation of your own perspective on work. Putting your work phone in a drawer during the weekend could help you more clearly delineate your personal time from your professional. Considering how and what you delegate could allow you to focus on your absolute priorities.
Some questions to reflect on
- Are you adjusting to a new role or responsibilities and find your working style isn’t working anymore?
- Have you been unofficially using your evenings and weekends to ‘mop up’ unfinished work?
- Do you procrastinate about tasks that you find uncomfortable?
- Do you end your working day wishing you’d not been sidetracked by distractions?
- Have you finally realised that you can’t ‘do it all’?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you might benefit from considering how you got to this position and what is in your control to change.
A Productive 2019
At WorkLifePsych, we’re spending 2019 focusing on how to help people be more productive at work. We’re covering productivity-related topics on our podcast and will regularly return to the topic on this blog. We hope you can join us on this journey and let us know how you’re getting on.