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You’re on a task, you’ve found your rhythm, and you feel that productive “zoom” on a day when everything falls into place. The last thing you need now is an obstacle that blocks your time management. And that’s why you need resources that are reliable and always open, 24/7.
For sustained productivity, always-on tools help you systematize tasks so that your intellect and energy are not trapped in unnecessary processing. Stay fluid by making time-saving methods your go-to solution for daily tasks.
The Nothing-Productive Day
The first thing to do in an unproductive day is to break the cycle. Get something completed. Anything. If you can’t get something significant done (e.g., finalize the presentation for the new marketing strategy), then add something ridiculously easy to your to-do list, so you can finish it and cross it off. (Rinse out my coffee cup — check!)
Before a woefully unproductive day is over, make a solid plan for tomorrow because the only thing worse than an unproductive day is panic the next morning when you’re facing twice as many things to do.
Then, cheat on the plan. Give yourself a valuable head start by working from home that night. No, your evening isn’t sacred because, after all, if you’re the one who spent the day not achieving your goals, then it’s up to you to get your productivity back on track. However, to make that work, your resources have to be available.
You can’t rely on services that shut down at 5:00 pm. There’s nothing productive about having to wait for morning to get something done.
If you have to sacrifice your evening, then make the most of it by focusing on the highest priority deliverables, so you can meet the expectations that come along with them. Attack your top priorities in 20- or 30-minute sprints and then deliver finished work to your team’s Slack, Trello, or SharePoint accounts. If you do this before you head to bed, you’ll sleep much better.
Also, use after-work hours to catch up on your email to clients and colleagues. Delegate some by forwarding them to coworkers if you can, or draft rough responses and send them to a service like Wordzen that will turn your points and details into professionally polished communications.
Travel: The Great Delayer
Traveling to other time zones is another unproductive activity. It’s necessary, of course, but it can deplete your energy, cause email to back up, and put you on the opposite side of the clock from your support staff or customers, which means anything you try to do is likely to run late. The relative few who can travel by private jet have an advantage over the rest of us, but for the millions of us who fly commercial airliners, arriving at the airport is like entering the Zone of Great Delay.
On top of that, while you’re away, the people on whom you rely in your home city tend to dial back their intensity when it comes to serving your needs. That’s just human nature because you’re away, but unfortunately, that reflex can cause your projects to become delayed while you’re on the road.
Here are some tips for staying productive when dealing with the 24/7 nature of travel.
- To Call or Not to Call? Although your phone is a 24/7 device, use it to call only those in nearby time zones. Otherwise, you’ll end up with more delays caused by phone tag. The farther you are from another party, the more you should use email and text to save time – and they’re also 24/7 services, so they’ll always work for you.
- Avoid personal problems. While you’re away, it’s a bad time to miss paying the electrical bill or find that you can’t transfer extra funds into your checking account to cover unexpected expenses. So, keep your productivity high by using 24/7 banking and remote bill-pay to manage these matters from the road. (Sign up and download these functions before you leave town.) Note that most banks shut down their account access for an hour or two at night. If your bank is based in New York, that will be lunchtime in Tokyo, so plan accordingly.
- Keep up with email during waiting periods or slack time. If you’re at a transportation center, find a quiet corner and dictate instructions for answering half a dozen pressing emails to a service such as Wordzen. By the time you reach your hotel, Wordzen’s editors will have your emails professionally polished and ready for you to send. Or, voice-record your replies using your smartphone while you’re having morning coffee, and Wordzen will turn them into quality communications by the time you finish your daily workout. Wordzen is staffed with professional editors 24/7, so it keeps you productive in whatever time zone you find yourself.
- Alter your social media approach. Although social media seems like a round-the-clock timesaver when it comes to your individual communications, stick to private messaging functions while you’re away, because it’s unwise to advertise that you’re not at home. However, if you need to post to your social media accounts for business reasons, upload your content to a service such as Hootsuite that allows you to set the release of messages for future times. Similarly, upload blog posts before you leave and schedule their publication while you’re away. That way, even if you’re napping in Nairobi or catching a few Zs in Zurich, your social campaigns perform flawlessly, just as if you were back at global HQ.
- Meetings at the home office are the worst when traveling because your colleagues expect you to attend at 2:00 AM from your present location. But when you’re on the road, it’s vital that you protect your sleep (and therefore your health). Mitigate this by asking the meeting organizer to use a service such as Zoom or GoToMeeting to record the meeting in your absence. They can send you a link to the audio file immediately afterward, and you can listen to it five or six hours later. Then, send a prompt email to the group with any points you’d like to contribute.
The Bottom Line
It’s a 24/7 world, and being productive is everything. To avoid getting backlogged at work or when you travel, rely on services that are always open for business. When email is a challenge, whether because of volume or timing, rely on Wordzen’s editors, available 24/7, to keep you productive at home or on the road.