Productive People Punch List

Kathy Rapp Corporate America, Driving Productivity, HR (& Life!) Advice, Kathy Rapp, Work Life Balance

We all know them.  The types who can exercise 2 hours a day, get their kids to school (dressed) and to every activity on time (with snacks) as well as shine during a pitch meeting.  Plus – always look like they’ve gotten 10 hours of sleep.

WTF?  Don’t you just want to punch them?

Especially in the unpredictable people business, the scenario above seems unrealistic.  Just when you think you’ll have time to get through your must-do list, the “drive-by” happens.

You know.  The guy who decides he has an urgent employee need to discuss with you. At 5pm.  Which just happens to coincide with the rush-hour traffic he wants to avoid.  An hour later, he’s taken up your time to the benefit of his 70mph drive home.

So instead of wanting to smack productive people or drop-kick the drive-by guy, perhaps we need a productivity punch list instead?  Especially for those who work in HR where most days don’t follow a plan.  Inc. and Laura Vanderkam, a productivity guru,  spoke to uber-efficient people and noted how they get stuff done.

Here are a few of my favs:

  • “Earth will not crash if you don’t check your email for 90 minutes.”  I am so guilty of this.  Whether it’s at my desk while I’m on a call, sitting in a car at a stoplight, or yes, while I’m supposed to be writing my next blog post….the little yellow envelope is terribly hard to ignore.  But if you chunk your email time into 2 or 3 segments during the day, you will be more productive.
  • “The snooze button is evil.”  Say it with me, “those extra 9 minutes are not restorative sleep.”  And most of the time you just lay there thinking about what you should be doing.  Set your head around when you realistically will get up each morning, and then get up!
  • “Pick three.”  Each day, we attempt to do multiple things thinking we can finish 6, 10 or even 30!  No way it happens, so best to decide on the 3 most important things for that day and then get ’em done.  That means you’ll do 15 important things in a workweek….which isn’t too shabby.
  • “Why am I here?”  I love this.  Ask yourself this question about any meeting or activity.  Do you have to be there?  Could it take less time?  Does it need as many people there?  Could someone else go for you?
  • “Set Rules.”  I try really hard to do this as it protects family time.  I get my work-out in most every morning, get my daughter off to school, get dressed, make my bed and plan my day.  Which means realistically, my “work” day doesn’t start until 8:15am.  So I never schedule a meeting before 8:30am.  I am also either getting my daughter from school, or making dinner – which means I don’t schedule meetings past 5pm.
  • “Work a Split.”  Similar to the above, some parents will leave work to be with their kids, then jump back into email/work after the kids are in bed.  This way you trade TV time for work time. While I used to do this, I don’t anymore as it sacrifices time with my husband.  So unless we both agree to work once our daughter is in bed, we have “us” time.

Which leads to the final fav:  “Make Time for Love.”  The first thing and last thing Alexis Ohanian, the multimillionaire Reddit co-founder does, is talk with his bi-coastal fiancee, Serena Williams.  Having dedicated check-in time keeps your relationship front and center.  And after all, you can’t be as productive if you don’t have the relationship support – be it spouse, partner, parent, sibling or friend.

In workplaces that tout flexibility and with employees seeking balance more than ever, following a productivity punch list makes it all happen.

And yet I still recommend drop-kicking the drive-by guy!