Here at Now Media Group, Inc. we’re either hard at work or working harder, ensuring that our clients are satisfied with their infosite and content. To do that, we stick to a few productivity tricks to help us through the day. We all have our differences: an extra cup of coffee or energy drinks, playing music, doing push-ups, and more. Despite our different approaches, we still get the job done.
We recently came across a fascinating infographic created by Anna Vital over at Funders and Founders, titled “How to Be Productive.” She offers seven areas of helpful tips to stay productive, even after that third coffee break. It’s not just general ideas like making to-do lists or thinking about your day, but tangible tips that you can integrate into your daily routine.
I’ll break down for you what tips have worked for us here, and what you can use at your own office or dental practice!
“Limit email replies to one per minute” — Emails can be tough to slog through. It’s the worst part of the morning when you sit down with hundreds waiting in your inbox. Instead of fretting, read through the email carefully and see if you can provide a quick answer. If the email requires a longer answer, leave it to the end of the pile. (See Extra Tips below)
“Tune out the news. Nothing important happens, most of the time.” — The siren call of your smartphone is tempting, I know. But if you really must read the news then set aside time, such as during your breaks or at lunch, to check up on what’s happening in the world. Even if something is breaking news, by that time you get to it during your break you’ll most likely have a full update. The news will still be there when you come back. Unless it’s an emergency happening in your direct area, take Winston Churchill’s words to heart, “Keep calm and carry on.”
“Use keyboard shortcuts.” — As a copywriter, keyboard shortcuts are awesome. It saves so much time when working on a piece that’s on a deadline. Depending on your computer (Mac or PC), your shortcut keys will be different. To get a rundown on your system’s shortcuts, Google search for “keyboard shortcuts mac/pc” and you’ll find some helpful resources.
“Define your fashion uniform. Wear it daily.” — This first tip may seem obvious, but it does help to separate the world of home and work. At previous employments, I personally saw co-workers dressed in shorts and t-shirts, pajama pants, or other casual wear, and they often had trouble concentrating. They were dressed ready for the weekend, when they should be thinking about work.
One of the best stories I’ve read recently is about an art director who was getting tired of waking up everyday not knowing what to wear to work. So, she chose one outfit that fit all her needs and bought multiples of it: a modest white blouse and black pants. Since then, she has been wearing this exact same outfit to work everyday, and no one has made negative comments about it. You can read more about her story here.
“Carry an all-occasion outfit with you.” — I’m a firm believer that you should keep an extra change of clothes in the car at all times. But while most people think of a T-shirt and some sweatpants, I want to keep a work-appropriate blouse and some comfy jeans in the car, in case of emergency. However, friends of mine have started stashing more than that.
One friend told me, “I keep no less than three pairs of shoes in my trunk,” which included some heels, boots, and running shoes. Feeling prepared for anything will help keep you at ease during work, especially if you have plans after you clock out for the day.
“Discard what you stop using.” — I actually disagree with this, with one exception; if an item of clothing is extremely soiled or has rips or holes, than yes it may be best to toss it out. As for the rest of your unwanted clothing, donate them!
“Visualize your end product.” — We’re always in contact with our clients, getting their input about their infosite. If your business deals with the creative side, make sure that you and your client’s vision are on the same page. There’s nothing worse than working hard on something, only to realize that it was too much of your vision, and not enough of the client’s.
“If you can’t write it down, record it.” — You’ve most likely heard or have experienced the showertime epiphany: when you’re showering and a grand idea pops into your head. I can’t tell you how many times I popped out of the shower and ran to my computer, wrapped in a towel, to jot something down. If writing it down is not your forte, don’t worry. Some people use the audio recorder or note-taking apps on their smartphone, mulling it over with a friend, or sketching it instead.
“When you read something helpful, write the author.” — I’ve sent emails to quite a few of my favorite novelists and have been delighted when I received replies. Unless the author explicitly says not to, don’t be afraid to reach out to them for questions or comments. A reply may not be instant, but the author will reach out to you in return. And who knows…it could be the beginning of a collaborative project or a new friendship.
“Manage anxiety – run, swim, dance.” — Some of us here started a daily push-up challenge recently. Not so much for exercise, but as a nice change from sitting in our chairs all day. We’ve also started taking group walks around our complex during breaks, to get some fresh air and stretch our legs. It helps a lot when we’re writing all day and need to take our eyes off the screen. I recommend picking up an after-work activity as well: go biking, take up Crossfit, or walk some more.
“Sleep more. You will get more done.” — We’re not in college anymore and you may not feel as young as you think. But a major factor in your daily energy tank is how much sleep you got the night before. When your head hits the pillow, be sure to turn off electronics (your phone too!) so your mind is ready for sleep as well.
Bonus: Nap Policies — Despite our best efforts, we’ve all had sleepless nights. If you’re feeling low on energy during the day, talk to your manager about taking power naps for 15 or 20 minutes. These micro-sleeps can revitalize you just enough to get through the rest of your day. Some managers aren’t okay with naps though, so check with them first.
“Do the easiest things first.” — The harder tasks are better saved for the late morning or afternoon, depending on your preference. Starting the day with the easier tasks will help you hit the ground running without leaping over any complicated hurdles right away. As the saying goes, “Walk before you run.”
“Prioritize one item per day.” — If you look at your daily to-do list and find a mountain of things to do, prioritize them by the amount of time they’ll take. Above all, make sure you get at least one big item done each day. You’ll feel more accomplished, and won’t put it off until it’s too late, and suddenly you’re putting in overtime to get it done.
“No meetings unless they are decisive.” — We rarely schedule meetings unless it’s absolutely necessary. I can’t tell you how many times friends have told me about their boring meetings when nothing gets accomplished. Don’t schedule meetings for the illusion of appearing productive. If you have questions for one or two people, use email or instant messaging to get in touch with them without having to drag the rest of the group in for a pointless meeting.
“Eat healthy food.” — This can almost go without saying. Sugary drinks and snacks will only take you so far before you crash. If snacking is a nasty habit for you, keep a bowl of healthier snacks on your desk so you won’t be tempted to scope out the kitchen. Examples can be trail mix, granola, or nuts.
“Get delivery to save time.” — If it’s looking like a long day at work, invest in some delivery food. I found out recently that a lot of businesses near our office complex do free delivery, since a majority of their customers work in the neighboring buildings. It’s quick and easy, with no lines at lunchtime!
“Negotiate a daily deal with your trusted cafe.” — There’s a cafe near our office that does a Wednesday deal that we love. Since then, we go every Wednesday and our co-workers are pretty much regulars at the cafe. Establishing a relationship like this with a cafe or restaurant will make it easier to get what you need: they may know you and your order by name, offer discounts or daily deals, and may even help with sponsorships for charity. Support your local small businesses!
“Focus on the important. Suppress the urgent.” — This doesn’t mean to ignore the urgent case; what it means is to put the urgent matter on the back burner, until you’re finished dealing with what you’re currently working on.
If a client or patient is getting frustrated that their needs aren’t being met, maintain a calm demeanor and ask for their specific issues – it could turn out to be something small or overexaggerated. Take this advice: a doctor doesn’t just ask “Are you hurt?” but also asks “Where does it hurt?”
“Start ‘Idea Dump’ book for genius ideas you can’t work on now.” — Similar to the writing tips under “Hacks,” an Idea Dump book is a great place to jot down ideas. We’ve used them in the past as well; a collaborative document where anyone can add their idea. Google Docs is a great tool for this, as it’s a document that can be shared among multiple writers online and you can see everyone’s input.
“Learn to ignore. No need to respond to everything.” — In a nutshell: don’t be nosy! If you’re in an open office setting, it can be hard to not eavesdrop on neighboring conversations, or the argument going on in the conference room. But learn to ignore it and you’ll feel more productive. Wear a pair of headphones, listen to music, or move to a cubicle. If someone needs your attention, they’ll come to you or send a message. If you need something, you do the same.
Best Tips for Dental Practices
Catch Up When Feeling Down: We understand that dental practices are devoted to their patients, but even the busiest practices may have moments of downtime or a lull between seeing patients. Don’t get lazy! Use this time wisely to catch up on emails, or other assignments that need to get done. You can also take the time to talk to your team about any aspects in the office that need improving or discuss morale.
Scrubs and Formal Wear: Most dental practices have their employees wear scrubs, but occasionally I come across a receptionist in more formal clothing and heels. Either choice looks professional to a patient, but do keep in mind how to keep your employees comfortable. If scrubs and formal wear aren’t popular for reception, consider a team shirt with your dentistry logo.
Writing for Help: Even professionals and experts have their doubts at times. If you’re confused about something, or unsure how to write something, don’t hesitate to contact a writer! At Now Media Group, if you have any questions contact your account manager and we’ll work with you on the issue.
Eliminate Trivial Decisions: At a dental practice, the patient is the priority. If you find you’re losing focus and thinking of what to wear, what to eat, or what you’re doing for the weekend, it may be time to prioritize. Make these decisions when you get home or prepare in advance. Make plans with your co-workers the day before if you’re going out to lunch, or respond to your friend’s weekend plans on your breaks.
Extra Tips from Now Media Group
30-Minute Productivity Exercise
This is a great exercise when you’re writing content (like us!) or replying to long-winded emails. Set a timer for 30 minutes, and focus solely on that one thing. Don’t browse the internet, don’t change the song on Spotify, and don’t look at your phone. After your 30 minutes are up, reward yourself with a 5 to 10 minute break where you can browse the news, check your phone, etc. You may be surprised how much you can get done.
Don’t be afraid to get out of your chair. Stretching and body movement is so vital throughout the day. Don’t forget to do head and neck exercises too, especially after leaning over a desk or staring at a computer all day.
Still not feeling comfortable at your desk? Look into making your workplace more ergonomic. Whether you’re a manager or an intern, proper posture can make all the difference in your productivity. Some example tools are:
- Yoga ball chairs
- Standing desks
- Wrist pads
- Raised keyboards
- Ergonomic office chairs