Tailoring Your Daily Schedule To Your Job Description Could Make You More Productive
Contrary to what you might think after reading some autobiographies of successful entrepreneurs, waking up at 4 a.m. and going to bed at 9 p.m. every day is not guaranteed to make you millions. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine of morning yoga and coffee that will allow you to perform at your peak (unless you’re downing the pill from Limitless along with it.) The key to productivity lies is in creating a schedule that will allow you to be most effective in performing the specific tasks you are required to complete to be successful in your line of work.
If the bulk of your work is managerial or customer-centered, your schedule should be different than that of someone who deals with more creative tasks on a daily basis. Creatives typically require long stretches of uninterrupted time during which they can really tap into their left brains and allow room to generate out-of-the-box ideas. Whereas, those responsible for managing others or dealing with customers are better off breaking up their day into small slots of time that they can dedicate to specific meetings and to completing premeditated daily tasks.
Want to revamp your daily structure for optimal productivity? Use the four steps below as a guideline.
Step 1: Figure out if you’re a “maker” or a “manager.”
This might be a no-brainer for those who clearly fit into one of these categories. If you’re someone with the term “manager” or “managing” in your job description, you clearly fit into the latter category. Similarly, if you exclusively write for a living or create any form of art, you obviously fit into the former category. However, finding out if you’re more of a “maker” or a “manager” is not as straightforward for some. Here’s how to make the distinction a little clearer.
Maker: If the majority of your tasks at work involve creating a product, be it writing code for a website or developing a marketing strategy for a brand, you fall into this category. A maker is anyone who’s responsible for creating something of tangible value for their company or employer, or for a customer. A chef’s tangible value is the dish that he creates for his customers, just as much as a doctor’s tangible value is serving her patient by healing.
Manager: If the bulk of your daily tasks consist of managing or advising colleagues or customers, then you fit into this category. You provide value to your company not by creating a specific product, but by steering others in the right direction and by using your expert judgment to make decisions and help solve problems. An editor in chief at a magazine fits into this category, just as much as a salesperson does. A manager-type role is one that is entirely, or almost entirely, linked to other people. Without writers’ work to edit, editors could not do their jobs, just as much as salespeople would not be able to sell anything without access to potential customers.
Step 2: Mind your meetings.
Maker: Avoid meetings like the plague, as they disrupt the flow of creative ideas. But if they’re necessary, schedule your meetings in bulk. Try to schedule any mandatory meetings during a single block of the day; scheduling meetings back-to-back is ideal. Having a 30-minute meeting at 9 a.m. and another one at 10 a.m. would work against your productivity because you won’t have enough time in between meetings to dive back into the deep focus that is required for you to generate your most creative ideas. It takes an average of 15 to 20 minutes for creatives who have been interrupted to reach their prior state of focus.
Manager: Meetings are unavoidable and generally make up most of the workday for manager-style roles. However, meetings do not have to be lengthy to be effective. Even three-minute meetings can be productive if no time is wasted and people get right to the point. Those with managing roles can make the most out of small blocks of time between meetings by sending an important email or making a quick but necessary phone call.
Step 3: Put aside specific blocks of time for completing tasks.
Maker: Expect that crises will inevitably come up throughout the day and people will interrupt your workflow to discuss solutions. To combat this distraction, block out time for tasks that require the most creative thinking and concentration for earlier in the day when your mind is fresh and problems have not yet had time to develop. Make it clear to colleagues that during this time, you are only to be disturbed in case of emergencies, but you’ll be available for any other discussions during another designated block of time in the day.
Manager: The bulk of your time will be spent putting out fires and coming up with solutions to any problems that your employees might be facing. If you have specific, premeditated tasks that you need to get done by EOD, make sure to block out time for them so that you can get them done regardless of what shitstorm awaits you.
Step 4: Keep in mind that your job might require juggling maker and manager tasks.
Certain job description will require you to be both a maker and a manager. You’ll have to manage people while also creating a tangible product of your own. Many editors, for example, have to edit the work of writers while simultaneously creating their own content.
If you find yourself in this position, aim to dedicate one part of your day to managerial tasks, letting people know that your door is open during this time for meetings or to answer any questions. Another part of your day should then be dedicated to creative work; this should be a long stretch of time during which external interruptions are kept to a minimum. Producing original, creative work requires a level of concentration that you cannot attain without an extended period of distraction-free time. Always make sure that your colleagues and boss are aware of the block of time that you’re dedicating to manager tasks versus maker tasks so that they can plan accordingly and you can avoid miscommunication.
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