Every quarter, the executive directors at Citrix ShareFile create a quarterly theme that employees across each department are asked to think about, focus on and apply to their personal job roles. Our Q1 theme for 2013 was “Work Smarter.” Even though Q1 has passed and we’ve moved on to other themes, work smarter has really stuck with me. The marketing team met at the start of Q1 to share and discuss ideas on how we can all work smarter in our daily jobs. Here are a few tips I learned that have resonated with me and improved my workflow immensely.
Work proactively vs. reactively
Admittedly, one of the biggest challenges I faced during the work smarter theme was changing my work style to be more proactive rather than reactive. It can be very difficult to ignore a phone call or not immediately respond to an email or IM that flashes on your screen. But when you’re working on another project, these distractions can usually wait. I’ve learned that if you drop what you’re currently working on to respond to them, you can lose focus and end up costing yourself more time in the long run.
If I have a specific project I need to work on, I now block off time in my Outlook calendar to get it done, and I shut down my Outlook and iPhone notifications until I am finished. Another helpful tip is to schedule certain times of the day to check emails and messages, such as first thing in the morning, mid-day and in the evenings.
This tip may seem obvious; however, many people struggle with prioritizing their workload. Thankfully, there are many different options available to help you manage all of your projects. The easiest way to begin is to list out your top goals for the month, and then think about the things you need to do each week to make them happen.
I keep a small whiteboard on my desk beside my computer, and each week I list out all of the things I must complete before the week is over. It really helps me to have the list within plain eyesight so that nothing falls through the cracks. If you’re working with a group, there are also some amazing project management software options available, such as Citrix Podio. Podio allows you to build apps for each project you are working on, assign tasks to yourself and others, and collaborate with team members.
Whatever tools you choose, make sure you dedicate time to identify your top priorities each month, and keep it organized somewhere.
Be mindful of time
We all wish we had more hours in the day. Don’t waste others’ precious time by scheduling unnecessary meetings. Think about whether a meeting is necessary to complete your goal, or if the same result could be accomplished with a quick email or phone call. When I schedule a meeting now, I set up a specific agenda before the meeting, stick to it, and follow up with action items for each attendee.
But in the same way, email can also make projects more complicated. I try to avoid long email threads with lots of people copied for big projects. Sometimes it can be more efficient to schedule a 30-minute meeting than to wait for each respondent to reply to an email with feedback. If you’re mindful of time and resources, you’ll find yourself and your coworkers to be much more productive at the end of the day.
Working proactively vs. reactively, prioritizing my workload and being mindful of time are the three main tips that have really helped me to work smarter. I hope these tips can help you with your daily workflow, too! If you have any suggestions on how to work smarter, please share them with us in the comments section below.