The workplace, in Congress or otherwise, is a constant overload of information and overstimulation of technological tools and communicative means. We receive emails, voicemails, snail mail, and texts, all of which can be incredible tools for efficiency, but only if you use them right.
The Personal Efficiency Program, a workout regimen for you and your brain to be as organized as possible, addresses the need for systematic organization to stay on top of your game. This program, recently delivered by CMF to House Legislative Directors provided participants the tools to take control of stacks of papers and hoards of emails to make systems that can work for us rather than against us. Here are three things I learned.
1. The Four Ds - Do it, Designate it, Delegate it, Dump it
The four Ds force us to deal with tasks immediately. When a task comes your way you choose to do it, designate it, delegate it, or dump it. Simply put it prevents the extensive to-do list (made up of actions to deal with actions) that never diminishes. It also improves your response rate to colleagues and constituents/stakeholders.
Batching is a huge time saver. As an office or business, implementing batching practices will increase productivity and keep an office atmosphere positive. Batching tasks allows us to really get a chunk of work done and truly feel like we have completed some tasks. For example, you can group similar tasks (calls, letters, etc.), hold regular one-on-one meetings, and batch items to discuss with staff/key contacts.
3. Reduce Distractions
In my darkest moments I have found myself reading one email, responding to another, glancing at a news article on my desk while I was originally editing an important memo due by close of business, and the phone is ringing. These are our current challenges that colleagues of every staff level face. If this sounds remotely like you – STOP, and do the following.
- Turn off email notifications. Pinging noises and email pop-ups negatively impact your productivity. If you MUST have a notification for a specific person or keyword you can set up a special rule to allow that.
- Don’t interrupt work to respond to every new message.
- Schedule specific times to check your email, or really “work through” your emails.
- Keep a decluttered workspace.
These pointers are just the tip of the iceberg to stellar personal efficiency. But, implementing one or all three of these actions will dramatically improve your effectiveness at work and truly improve your outlook on “getting through it all.” Personal efficiency provides you the time to do what you really want.