Vol: 43 Issue: 3 | Oct 2020
1. ESTABLISH YOUR PRIORITIESIf your to-do list is so long that you don’t know where to begin, Carol Gill, an associate professor of organisational behaviour at Melbourne Business School, recommends allocating each task to one of four categories on an ‘Ease and Impact Matrix’.
‘Rank each activity according to the effort it will require and the impact it will have on your overall goals,’ she says.
Tasks that require little effort for high reward are ‘quick wins’, while activities that are high effort / high reward are your ‘major projects’.
Gill advises prioritising activities in these categories over low impact / low reward tasks, which should be completed when you have a spare few minutes. And if a task falls into the high effort / low reward category? ‘Bin it,’ she says.
2. SET SMART GOALS FOR YOUR WORKDAYSMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound, and are a great way to bring structure and clarity to your objectives and set yourself up for success.
IAG New Zealand’s chief operating officer Melissa Cantell says effective goal setting has been pivotal to the success of the insurer’s ‘MyFlex’ initiative, which gives employees a range of flexible working options.
‘For flexible working to be successful, people need to have clear expectations on what they are accountable for and what good looks like, and then trust and support to get it done,’ she says.
IAG reports improved employee productivity, wellbeing and engagement since MyFlex was introduced in 2017.
3. STOP THINKING AND START DOING‘I am always asking procrastinators “what is stopping you from moving forward?”,’ says Kylie Denton, founder and director of Performance Advisory Group, which delivers high-performance coaching to clients in the financial services industry.
‘“What are you afraid of, that is getting in your way? What would move you forward? Who can support you and hold you to account?” Ask these questions to yourself and be totally honest.’
Gill is more emphatic: ‘Count down from three and just begin,’ she says.
‘Jumping in and working on even the simplest tasks helps to activate the brain’s drive system and gather momentum. And when you’re able to tick that small task off your list, the brain releases a burst of dopamine that feels pleasurable.’
4. MINIMISE DISTRACTIONS IN YOUR WORKSPACE‘We haven’t got a lot of willpower and it depletes with use, like a muscle,’ says Gill.
‘You want to create conditions where you don’t have to use a lot of willpower, which means removing distractions from your workspace, ensuring you have the right set-up, getting a comfortable chair — anything that makes the job easier to engage in.
’ Of course, some tools that are required for the job can also serve as a distraction, which is why Denton advises turning off email and phone notifications for a period of time each day.
5. USE SELF-COMPASSIONDenton says that emotions play a significant role in our motivational and productivity levels and isn’t surprised that some of us haven’t been operating at full capacity in the wake of COVID-19.
‘It’s important for staff to be really up-front, vulnerable and honest with their leaders and friends about how it is affecting them.’
Gill agrees: ‘This has been an incredibly difficult period for everybody. Give yourself some credit and know that it’s OK to make mistakes. Recalibrate and move forward rather than beating yourself up.’