Progress is a huge motivating factor in doing one’s best work and keeping a project on the go. Even though progress often comes in dead last when managers are asked about employee motivators, use progress in your workday to make incremental or huge leaps, forward.
Here are five ways to ensure steady progress in your workday, every day:
1) Measure Your Progress – You’re not going to know if you’re making steady progress if you don’t have a way to measure your progress. Sure, it’s easy to measure progress when you’re reading a book or writing a whitepaper, but for things that don’t have obvious steps or increments, find them or create them. If you’re trying to make a sale or close a deal, steady progress could mean making contact, or making two attempts at contact, or following up with five qualified leads. If you’re in recruiting, steady progress could mean getting three job descriptions written and posted online or interviewing at least two candidates this week. Find ways to show that you’ve progressed toward your goal or completing your task.
2) Schedule the Smallest of Tasks – Take the task list one step further and schedule every single item on that list throughout the day. Better yet, make sure to even schedule tasks that are part of bigger tasks. For example, you need to create a slideshow by the end of the month. Instead of just marking the deadline for the slideshow, schedule time to figure out the topic and to outline the presentation. Add “research statistics for slideshow” and “find pictures for slideshow” to your task list. This ensures steady, incremental progress and avoids you procrastinating until the last minute to work on the project.
3) Tackle What’s Difficult – Busy work can seem like progress, and even trick our brains into thinking that we are making progress, but the mundane tasks really hinder us from making the measurable progress that needs to be made. It may feel like you’re getting that blog post done when you’re reading articles “for research”, but getting that blog post done means writing it, or at least writing 300 words of it. If you find yourself doing unnecessary, un-urgent stuff just to feel productive or to put off what really needs to be done, then you need to stop yourself and tackle the difficult.
4) See a Task Through to the End – With cell phones, meetings, coworkers, managers, and everything else in life, it’s easy to get distracted and to forget what you were doing in the first place. This makes it hard to have steady progress, or to get anything done for that matter. Therefore, focus on the task at hand, and commit to getting it done before replying to that email or calling someone back. This can be hard to do if you have to go to a meeting in 20 minutes, or if your boss wants to meet with you right then and there. To compensate, commit to finishing your though and to getting as much done as you can. You use your time a little more wisely while making it easier to refocus once your interruption is done.
5) Know When You’re Not Making Progress – If it’s taking you 30 minutes to complete something that normally takes five or 10, then you need to take a step back. If a meeting to discuss quarterly goals for the company has gone off track, then take that break so everyone can come back together. Breaks and reevaluations are okay, as whoever said that you need to work 12 hours straight through lunch didn’t have productivity in mind. You’re not productive, and you’re not making progress, if time isn’t used efficiently. If it means taking a break, grabbing something to eat, or watching a quick YouTube video to get back on track, then do what it takes to regain time instead of wasting it.
by Allison Midori Reilly