Imagine everything you could achieve if you successfully optimised your productivity. We’re not talking about longer working days, skipping lunch, or coming into the office at the weekends, but rather about carefully redesigning your working practices so that you work smarter. As part of Nokia’s Smarter Everyday programme, which aims to inspire you with fresh approaches to productivity, collaboration and technology adoption, we looked how to do just that.
Now, because nobody’s the same, and because our working lives are all different, the key to that optimisation is an individually tailored approach to work: a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t likely to be very useful. If you can understand what your specific working style is, then you can figure out the more effective way to streamline and improve it. But how can we do that? A little observation and analysis goes a long way…
1. Write a work diary
You’ve heard of a food diary: well, how about keeping a work diary for a week or so? Mark down everything you do each hour, every day—from meetings, emails and conference calls, to screen-breaks, snacks and scanning the social media headlines. Be objective and exhaustive! And don’t forget to note how you feel—energy, stress and motivation levels are all important corollary data. Mark these elements out of ten to make each day’s notes easier to compare. Need a hand? There’s plenty of Windows Phone apps that can help.
2. Create a timeline
You’ve started to map out your work-day; now, start thinking of the bigger picture. We know it’s often a relief to close the spreadsheets and switch off the laptop at the end of your shift, but we also know that the way we live outside of traditional working hours both affects and reflects the way we behave at work. So try sketching out a 24-hour timeline. Your smartphone can be great for this too. Use it to record notes about when you sleep, when you travel, how you travel (bike, walk, train), when you read and what you read (trade journals, literary novels, comic books), the types of work you do, the types of other leisure activities you do, and anything else that happens in between. Again, try annotating your timeline with your energy levels and mood.
3. Break down the data
Which days were good and which days were bad? Look at the notes you’ve taken. When have you felt low, demotivated, unproductive or tired? Based on these observations, create a visualisation (or another timeline) of what a typical bad day might look like. What are the common factors? What seems to be getting in the way of productivity or enjoyment? Then do the reverse: sketch out an ideal day using a composite of the ‘good’ data from your notes. What’s happening in the times when you’re getting great work done and are achieving a happy work/life balance? Breaking down the data like this will give you a clear idea of what works for you—when and why you’re performing at your peak—so that you can begin to figure out your own unique working style.
4. Analyse what you’ve got
Now that you’ve got a list of situations that work and don’t work for you, start to extrapolate. Dispassionately and curiously analyse your data to see what insights you can reach about your habits and attitudes. What do you do particularly well, and when do you do it? Do you work best at dawn or at dusk, on a full belly or right before a meal, after exercising or after a sleep? According to the data, what conditions make you more productive? Which habits are conducive to efficiency and which ought be to curbed?
5. Get some feedback
We know it’s hard to objectively analyse your own behaviour—after all, we all have certain self-images that are difficult to alter. The solution? Talk to a trustworthy colleague or friend and ask them for advice. Show them your visualisations. Do they agree with your analysis? What do they think you could improve upon? Remember, they don’t know you as well as you know yourself—which is why we advocate that you collect and collate your own data—but they are objective, and a second opinion can be helpful, insightful and reassuring as you’re getting to grips with your working style.
We hope this helps! If so, why not download our latest ebook on designing your day. We’ve also got a useful website, Nokia for Business, specifically created to show how our technology can help you and your business work smarter. After all, successful people don’t work harder than the rest of us: they simply work cleverer. And remember, if you’ve got any effective tips to share, we’d love to hear about them too.
Image credit: Elizabeth M