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Good Work Habits Mean Alot

At Work

******* I spend my days working with people and organizations who are over-scheduled, overcommitted, and plain old overwhelmed. None of the individuals I work with set out to be this way, but our busy-every-minute world has had a less than stellar effect on our everyday routines. And, often in our race to complete tasks and to do’s, we forget that our demeanor is on display for our staff members, colleagues, volunteers, and board members. It’s not just about getting it all done, but getting it all done with intelligence, patience, poise, and enthusiasm…leading and leading by example. Clearly a tall order, as we can only handle so much. Yet, adapting, displaying, and implementing productive work habits is a benefit to the work we seek to accomplish and an essential component of being a strong leader. So how do we stem the tide and add productivity to our list of every day accomplishments?   What do exemplary work habits really look like?

  1. Stop Multitasking How many of us try to send a quick email while on the telephone or edit a document while simultaneously writing another? Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can over stimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. And the rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. Bottom line: focus on one task at a time if you want to get it done right and done well.

  2. Share the positive Energize your staff by clearly defining expectations and routinely offering positive feedback. According to a 2015 study by Gallup, organizations and companies that engage their workforce saw a 21% bump in productivity.

  3. Make the Most of Peak Energy Times When do you work best? If you are like most people, the morning is your most productive time. A survey tells us that 64% of workers feel most productive between 8am and 12noon. Schedule your most important tasks for the time you typically feel the most energetic.

  4. Be Wary of Working Too Much More hours don’t necessarily equal better productivity. According to Fast Company, output is proportionate to the time worked up to 49 hours per week. Beyond that, productivity decreases and those who put in 70-hour weeks have the same productivity as those who work 56 hours.

  5. Get Organized Did you know that piles of paper in your office are deferred decisions?   Are you working or meeting in spaces full of clutter with little to no clear surface space to focus on the task at hand? An Office Max study found that nine in ten (90%) Americans admit that unorganized clutter at home or at work has a negative impact on their life. Their productivity (77%), state of mind (65%), motivation (53%) and happiness (40%) are also affected. Our cluttered spaces are actually making us less creative and able to focus on our work. Often the way your office is set up is just as important as the items you choose to keep in your space.   Clearing the unnecessary items from your workspace and taking some time to implement systems that work for you and the way you work removes the visual distractions and reflects our ability to make strong decisions.

  6. Give me a break. According to a 2013 survey, 60% of workers think spending time on a few non- work-related tasks during work hours actually improves productivity. The idea is that it has become increasingly difficult to separate work and life, to the point that more of a work/life blend is needed and shouldn’t be punished or discouraged. So, short breaks throughout the workday keep people fresh and ultimately more focused in the long term.   Better yet, use the short break time to take a quick walk, have some quiet time, or eat a healthy snack to energize and refresh yourself. There are no perfect shortcuts to being more productive, but instead of ignoring the issue completely, why not try some varied strategies in your work place? Take some time to really look at calendars and to do lists and think about why you do what you do each day.   New routines eventually become new habits and new ways of doing things can add the bounce in our step that many of us are craving.

******** Marilyn Weiss Cruickshank is a Boston-based organizing and productivity consultant who helps clients get better organized and make more efficient use of physical and digital space, time, and resources. Marilyn works one-on-one with museum and historic site staff, and facilitates professional development workshops for staff, volunteers, and board members. She is a former Director of Education at the USS Constitution Museum, a former Board member of the New England Museum Association, and a past recipient of AAM’s Nancy Hanks Award for Professional Excellence in the museum field.


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