Maximum effort: three time-tested productivity tips at work.

Author:Norris, Keith

    Meetings get a bad rap. Often it's warranted. With all the recent advice about not wasting time in meetings or events and cancelling them altogether in the name of productivity, however, many people and companies have gone too far: they scratch a meeting that's truly critical to stay on task. As a result, deadlines slip, problems surface and productivity suffers.

    Meetings aren't all bad. Often they're a great excuse to introduce a much-needed "cadence of accountability" into teams to get things done faster and more efficiently. And for remote workers, meetings can be heaven-sent because otherwise telecommuters feel distanced from companies and teams.

    Do you need a fresh agenda to hold a meeting? Not necessarily. What form do these meetings take? Check out the best-seller 4 Disciplines of Execution (Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, Sean Covey) for specific tips.


    Time blocking is one of the best secrets of productivity. It's a simple but powerful tool to avoid too-frequent distractions and interruptions--if you use it wisely. Here's one example: When we went through a company merger we noticed one of the two companies had a very "urgent" culture. That was a nice attribute when things were small, but as the company began to grow the "urgent" culture made it difficult to facilitate uninterrupted blocks of time, which (as we know) is where the real productivity happens.

    So how do you use time blocking for greater productivity? For one day, keep track of all the interruptions that come into your office. Rate each one. Is it really urgent? Could it wait for another time without hurting productivity? Second, experiment by blocking one hour per day to (for example) have the support and development teams meet and discuss any escalation issues. Support then knows they'll have a less-than-24-hour response for most issues, and development knows they now have seven hours of the day virtually interrupt-free. It's a win-win.

    Time blocking should apply to your personal life as well...

To continue reading