Learning different productivity habits is like learning to ride a bike. For some, it comes naturally. Others might fall off a few times before they get the hang of it. But once learned, it’s a skill that sticks.
Many marketers fall into that first group: the productivity naturals. They’re content to grind out campaigns all day without a glance at the clock. The rest of us, however, need a little help learning to kick distractions to the curb.
If that’s you, then consider the following tips your training wheels:
Pick a lane.
When you first get on a bike, it’s easy to drift all over the road. But if you can’t pick a task and stick to it, you won’t get very far. My advice? Hop into the fast lane first thing in the morning. Get your toughest tasks out of the way first, and then cruise to the finish with easier work in the afternoon.
Shed extra weight.
Just as there’s no sense in learning to ride with a trailer attached, there’s no reason to clutter your workspace with unnecessary paperwork. Recycle the documents you don’t need, and avoid printing anything you can just as easily access through digital means. You’ll save money, save the planet, and save yourself some brain space.
Do it in daylight.
Any experienced cyclist will tell you that riding at night is dangerous not just because cars can’t see you, but because you can’t see where you’re going. Working in a dark, dreary space can derail you for similar reasons. Beyond practical matters, such as seeing your work more clearly, working in the light of a window or a soothing lamp gives you more presence in the office. Move your desk to such a space, and notice how your pace increases, your interactions improve, and your mood lifts.
Help others when they fall.
There’s a reason cyclists tend to ride in teams: We all fall, and we all appreciate a hand to help us up. Business can be equally bruising, and it’s up to each of us to remind our teammates that their contributions are valuable. Something as simple as, “Great job on that design,” can be the burst of energy your team needs to push through to the finish. Better yet, provide constructive criticism, which can prevent your co-workers from slipping off the saddle in the first place.
Stand on the pedals.
When you’ve gotten the basics of bicycling down, it’s tempting to glue yourself to your seat. But cyclists who learn to ride standing up can call on greater power in their quadriceps and gluteal muscles when facing a steep hill. Believe it or not, business is like that, too. At unproductive team meetings, it’s easy to sit back and coast. But standing up creates a sense of urgency, gets blood flowing, and jogs the mind toward bigger and better ideas. Just be sure to give your team a break once they reach the top of the hill.
You may not have been born with a marketer’s knack for time management. But like bicycling, productivity is a skill that, with the right tools and team support, can be learned by almost anyone. And once you’ve mastered it, you might be surprised at just how far and fast it can carry you.