Productivity Post – Solution #2: Having a Plan

First a disclaimer: My first post and the theme of this series is about productivity in the work place.  I’m tailoring the series with the assumption that you are trying to get more out of work or you are trying to get more out of those who work with you.

Last week we talked about how being and staying focused is a main contributor to being productive.  In this post I wanted to tackle the base assumption I used for why being focused is important. That assumption for staying focused is that "you know what you need to work on"!

Having a plan or sense of direction is crucial in getting the most out of your time.  In the book, the 4 hour work weekTim Ferris makes a similar assumption that the reader knows what he/she wants to do and/or the line of work to be in.  Many people I’ve spoken with about the book have said “great book, but what line of work should I be in and where do I start?”  This is an inherent challenge of many of us in the business world.  What are we supposed to tackle and what’s best to do first, second, last, etc?

Many of us are not self-directed (i.e not the boss) and that shouldn’t stop us on having a plan.  If you are not the team lead it shouldn’t prohibit you to seek out clarity in the tasks you want to get done or the vision of the end goal or project you are working on (if that is prohibited in your workplace, might be bigger problems there).  From my experience there is nothing worse for a manager than not knowing if someone on the team is a little lost and is going sideways instead of forward.  Managers I’ve worked with always appreciate a team member asking for more clarity, more understanding, or more direction.   It’s a sign of interest and commitment!

If you are self-directed (or if you are the boss) then it becomes even more important to  have a plan of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it since there are more people working off that same plan.  What I’ve seen is if a manager doesn’t have a plan that they’ll still be “doing alot but accomplishing very little”.  Worst result of this is that terribly unsatisfactory feeling at the end of the week of not knowing what was really accomplished, even though the week seemed to be very busy.

In whatever role you’re in, its important to carve out some time and think through a plan, a vision, and the tasks associated with them.  Whatever your best thinking time is (I’m a morning person) use that time wisely and plan.  Then during the work day you’ll get more done and feel better about it.