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Tips for Summer Productivity

It’s so easy to fall into the summer doldrums with the excessive heat and humidity, a sometimes quieter and less stressful work week, and less of a rigid schedule driving you at work and at home.  That’s why we’re dedicating this newsletter to you, our faithful clients and readers, and offering some ideas and inspiration to help you wrap up your summer.  Don’t let another summer pass you by!  Chose something from these ideas, incorporate it into your August, and put your best food forward into fall knowing you accomplished something special.

  • Empty your Inbox

Seems like an easy thing to do.  Well, maybe it is easy for some of us.  But for others, developing a new approach to processing your Inbox can help gain control, improve response time, and keep up with critical actions and due dates – and that’s worth a little effort!  But how?

  1. Set up a simple and effective email reference system.  Have a Reference Information folder(s) in which to store information that you keep in case you need it later.  As much as one-third of your e-mail is reference information, so be sure to consider how to break up and store your reference information so that you can easily find what you need when you need it.
  2. Schedule uninterrupted time to process and organize email daily.  Disciplining yourself toward having the habit of working through your daily e-mails during a set time frame will help you not only empty your Inbox, but you will also become more organized and efficient in no time at all.  Process one item at a time, and stick with that message until you’ve done everything you are able to do to file it away.  Resist the temption to jump around your Inbox in no particular order; it’s inefficient and won’t help you achieve your goals.
  3. Use the 4 D’s model of message options:

Delete it.  Does the message relate to a meaningful objective you’re currently working on? Will you refer to it within the next six months? Does the message contain information you are required to keep?  If not, delete that message.

Do it.  Ask yourself, what specific action do I need to take?  If you can do it in a relatively short amount of time, just do it.

Delegate it.  Can you forward the e-mail to a team member who can care for the task?  If so, delegate it and move on.

Defer it.  If you can’t Delete, Do, or Defer, you must turn the message into an actionable task, or turn it into an appointment.  Create a Task List that you can prioritize and schedule to complete on your calendar.  Defer such messages to your task list.

Use the 4 D’s every day.  Studies show that on average, people can process about 100 email messages an hour if they do so in an organized and efficient manner such as the 4 D’s.  If you receive 40 to 100 messages per day, all you need is one hour of uninterrupted email processing time to get through your Inbox!  Statistics show that of the email you receive:

– 50% can be deleted or filed;

– 30% can be delegated or completed in less than 2 minutes;

– 20% can be deferred to your Task List or Calendar to complete later.

  • Rock your downtime

Many people report their most creative moments come to them when they least expect it.  New ideas squeeze into our consciousness when our mind takes a break.  Our memories work better when we’re not in overdrive, and the process of consolidating new memories takes time, peace, and quiet.  So rock your downtime by embracing the fact that downtime rocks!  Take time off when you can.  Rest when you can – and don’t feel guilty.

  • Enhance your skills

Harvard Business Review tells us that when times are tough, professional development is NOT a luxury.  In fact, often that is precisely when there is enough breathing room in the daily work flow to utilize the chance to better yourself.  Get some new training that you need, take a class, volunteer at court (or elsewhere that will improve your skill set), and see the pay off when things pick up and “normalcy” returns.  Training can increase productivity, increase collaboration, and fine-tune skills.  Motivate yourself by turning your downtime into opportunity.

  • Network

We all know that networking is one of the finer communications forms of this day and age, and expanding your own personal network can only be a positive endeavor.  Don’t have a Facebook page?  Never Tweeted in your life?  Think Linked-In has something to do with rusty chain-link fences?  It’s time, friend.  You don’t have to learn everything all at once.  Get yourself a basic understanding of which social networking tool you might be most interested in, open an account, and  give it a shot. Spend just a few short minutes on it every day for three weeks, and consider the ways in which this type of networking could help you and your business.  Say it, seize it, read it, sync it, tweet it, link it, post it, make the most of it!

  • Think and create

Think?  Really?  Yes, really.  Think about things you don’t have time to think about when you are busy.  What challenges face your clients and keep them up at night?  Take the next step and translate your knowledge into business activities that will help make you invaluable to your clients.  Start a blog if you don’t have one – keeping in mind that blogs are the most effective, lowest-cost form of online marketing for many businesses.  Subscribe to newsletters and see how others are doing it.  Post often.  Nobody’s reading it at first?  We all need to start somewhere.  Be sure to include a call to action, in order to generate a response and new business.  After you’ve discussed your point, invite readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter.  Find ways to draw people in, and reap the benefits of being viewed as the uber-intelligent expert!

  • Update your iPhone Apps

Technology can be daunting, but making it really work for you brings the benefit of time and organization.  Did you know there are actually seminars about iPhone Apps?  No matter what your career choice, specialty, or interest, there are iPhone Apps that can help you make every day easier and more productive.  Use Madame Internet and search for ideas, and go to tech websites to see what people have to say about the App(s) you’re interested in.  Read reviews.  Switch from manual typing to voice recognition for typing e-mails, sending text messages, and making notes…you’ll save myriads of time and will be safer on the road as well.

And as you enjoy this last hot month, recall what Steinbeck once said:

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

Remember, that chill will be here before you know it.


Our best to you all,

Brian Jerome and the MDRS team