The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What’s your best advice for staying productive at work?” is by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.
When it comes to work, there will never be enough hours in the day. Between meetings, phone calls, and the slew of emails flooding our inboxes, the distractions are endless. Even the most disciplined employees have trouble staying on task. However, I have found a few things that I can do on a daily basis to help me prioritize and make the most of my time in the office:
Skip the meetings
Meetings are great for brainstorming and face-to-face interaction, except when they’re not. Go to the meetings you need to go to (and be present, don’t look at your phone). But skip the ones where a trusted colleague can easily speak or take notes on your behalf.
Take a break outside
It sounds counterintuitive when your day is jam-packed, but try to make time to get outside at least once during your workday, even if the weather is bad, or if it’s only for five minutes. It’s like hitting the “reset” button on your brain. A brisk walk around the block (sans email or texting) can instantly refresh your perspective and creativity. For instance, I schedule walking meetings with our editor-in-chief, which have spurred some of our best ideas for the business.
Keep a tidy desktop
By this I mean both your computer’s desktop and your actual desktop. If you know where things are, you won’t waste valuable time searching for them. A tidy desk means a tidy mind, and a tidy mind is better prepared to handle the chaos of a busy day.
Start your day early
Get into work early and schedule one to two hours with zero interruptions. This gives you a set time to get through emails and complete outstanding to-dos. In return, this will open up time during the day for meetings, and other unplanned requests.
Never be a bottleneck
Your team’s productivity is reflective of your own. Always make sure you’re giving them what they need to get their work done, before focusing on your own projects.
Always over communicate
Whether you are asking if you can skip a meeting or what the highest priority on your to-do list should be, asking rather than assuming helps avoid wasting time that could have been spent elsewhere.
Turn your phone on silent
Oh, the horror! You will survive—I promise. I keep my phone on silent all day (except for actual phone calls in case of an emergency) and only look to answer texts and social media requests when I have free time. If you are constantly being distracted by the buzz and ping of alerts, you’re not going to get anything done.
Live and breathe by your calendar
Find a calendar app that you love and use it to schedule just about anything. This way, you’ll always know the amount of time you have throughout the day to work on projects, attend meetings, etc. One of our editors swears by the app, Sunrise because it also syncs with a bunch of other apps, like Foursquare, LinkedIn (LNKD) and Facebook (FB).
Limit your direct reports
Too many direct reports, actually leads to no direct reports. Meaning, you won’t have time for any of them if you’re trying to make time for all of them. I try to limit my direct reports to five, so I have ample time to fit in one-on-ones and understand the challenges across the business.
Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What’s your best advice for staying productive at work?
How managers are killing the productivity of their employees by Todd McKinnon, co-founder and CEO of Okta.
Warby Parker’s Co-CEO: Why it’s okay to say ‘no’ to your boss by Dave Gilboa, co-CEO of Warby Parker.