Productivity and I are not easy bedfellows. In fact, we're downright enemies sometimes. For example, if I have an amazing day at work and totally nail all my to-dos, I can virtually guarantee I will not have a similar day tomorrow. Working out, getting great sleep, following a regimented schedule – none of these things seem to make a difference to me.
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Add in 20 employees, three kids, three properties, a hectic speaking and travel schedule, what I hope is an adequate social life, and my never-ending battle of the bulge, and you can see why sustained productivity often eludes me.
I get a little frustrated every time someone who works at a massive company or listens to podcasts on the subway posts a productivity hack. I run a company in Omaha, NE. The only Subway here serves questionable sandwiches. Most productivity tips just don't seem applicable to my life.
While I am no expert, here are the productivity tips that do work for me and my team at Red Branch Media:
1. Work From Anywhere
Whether it's your desk, the sunny kitchen, standing up, sitting down, a café near your apartment, or with a mud mask on your face, work from where you need to work. I encourage a lot of movement both inside and outside the office.
Weird places some of our people work :
On our work bike. It's great for editing or making spreadsheets.
At the kitchen counter while on a stair stepper. This is wonderful for those with hip or back issues.
In the office "living room," which is full of couches, chairs, and places to put your feet up.
Coming soon: hammock swings!
In a bed.
In a Starbucks.
By the pool.
At our favorite restaurant, Pitch.
2. Don't Burn Out
You can get burnt out on just about anything – even your seat in the office.
There is only one office with a door on it at Red Branch. As CEO, I naturally made it my home. But I hated it. It's dark, it has no windows, and the carpet is gross. It left me feeling disconnected from the team. While everyone else changed desks, I sat in my little hovel and wondered why my team no longer asked for my help. So, I moved my desk into a room with far less privacy but far more light and connectedness. Plus, the team now gets to listen to me make client calls, which is definitely to their benefit and keeps them aligned with client wants, needs and issues.
You can also burn out on too much work, so sometimes, we'll take a walk, play a game of pool, or break for a quick burrito and a beer. Changing up your projects, location, and workload is key to avoiding burnout.
3. Think. Plan. Do.
Everyone thinks and plans differently, but putting structure around your day can help with productivity immensely.
At Red Branch Media, we've implemented something called #6Things Standups. We have little notebooks where we list the #6things we're going to do that day, and we share them with one another. Not only does this give us each insight into one another's day, but it also allows us to assist others when we have a light day or ask for help when we're overwhelmed. It's not uncommon for someone heading off on vacation to ask someone else to pitch in while they're gone or for me to reorder someone's load so they have a better chance of getting off early to take their dog to the vet.
4. Manage Your Schedule
Jeremiah Dillon, head of product marketing for Google at Work, suggests the following schedule:
"Monday: Energy ramps out of the weekend – schedule low-demand tasks like setting goals, organizing, and planning.
"Tuesday, Wednesday: Peak of energy – tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.
"Thursday: Energy begins to ebb – schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.
"Friday: Lowest energy level – do open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building."
Our schedule looks a lot like this. On Monday, I take meetings with each department to help them optimize their schedules.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are filled with client calls and the writing of articles and email copy. Many people have Tuesday as their work-from-home day because the solitude lends itself to writing. On Wednesday, everyone is in the office. We basically spend our time busting our humps.
On Thursdays, people also take a work from home day. For me, it's editing and performance review day.
On Friday, we essentially slide into home plate just before "eatin' meetin'"and enjoy the last hours of the work week to hang with each other. It's amazing.
A version of this article originally appeared on Red Branch Media.