Little changes can make a big difference in productivity—at the individual level and for whole teams. In a competitive environment like health insurance sales, where productivity is a key driver of performance, the rewards go to the people who get more accomplished at the end of any given day. To pack more punch into your day, consider these easy habits to get into:
- Power down the home computer. Staring at a computer screen in the evening interrupts your body’s rhythms, making it harder to get enough quality sleep. Say goodnight to Facebook and other online leisure activities as far in advance of your normal bedtime as possible.
- End meetings early. For those meetings you control, start the session with the intention of finishing early. Meetings scheduled to last an hour rarely need more than 50 minutes. That extra 10 minutes helps you stay on top of the unexpected and helps you re-focus before the next one. And coworkers always appreciate the gift of time. Announcing it at the top of the meeting helps everyone stay on-task and focused.
- Save new phone numbers now. Not later. Adding them to your contact list immediately makes them instantly accessible. Later, you’ll be able to find the contact more easily, and you’ll be less likely to ignore an incoming call because your phone didn’t recognize the digits.
- Check to-dos before emails. Each time you return to your desk—in the morning, after lunch or a meeting—check your to-do list before plowing through your emails. It’s a great way to keep your priorities top-of-mind, and it helps you avoid wasting time on low-priority email sorting.
- Do difficult conversations first. Get them out of the way early. You’ll be more productive when you can put them in your rear-view instead of letting them loom up ahead all day. And you’ll spend the rest of the day with a sense of accomplishment.
- Sort snail mail while you walk. Not necessarily literally, but it’s smart to toss the trash in the trash before you ever get back to your desk. By the time you do, the pile will be much smaller, less intimidating, and easier to sort through.
Until science figures out a way to squeeze a 25th hour into a day, it’s small changes like these, taken together and applied consistently, that can add up to big gains in productivity.