Being Productive During a Time of Change

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I’ve gone through a lot of change in the past month. At the end of November, I officially finished the move for my library that I talked about in a previous post. I’m now all moved into my new office, in my new library space, on a new floor. In my personal life my husband and I bought our first house (in a totally new neighborhood) and moved in the day after Thanksgiving. Adding to that excitement, we’re expecting our first child in February!

I share all of this to say that I’ve been experiencing a lot of new-ness in my life and have been feeling a bit unmoored. My regular routines have completely changed and in an effort to feel more productive I started looking into ways I could do just that.

I stumbled across an article online from Psychology Today that discussed ways in which you can boost productivity. A lot of them seemed self-explanatory: get more sleep, work with a team, but I had a few that stood out to me that I’ve been implementing in my personal and professional lives to feel more centered.

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Pay Attention to the Room and Furnishings

Set up a place to work that is only where you work. If you have a comfortable and efficient space to work in, and if the only thing you do when you are in that space is your productive work, then your body and brain form a habit. Every time you walk into the “work” space your brain automatically goes into productive work mode.

For me this meant prioritizing getting my office space both at work and home set up just how I like it. I hadn’t thought getting things hung up on the walls was important but another article seemed to suggest that workers who stared at empty walls were less productive than those that did not. So that was one of the first things I did after the holiday weekend. And it has helped! I feel that in both spaces it now feels more like my own and it’s easier to focus than it had been previously.

Work with your own rhythms

We all have our own cycles of work and rest. Whether it is a daily circadian rhythm or a weekly rhythm or even a months-long rhythm, observe your own rhythms of when you are at a high work energy and when you are in “rest” mode. Fighting your own rhythm won’t make you more productive.

I am a morning person and am most productive before lunch which I take around 2pm. This is the time during which my brain is the most active and I produce my best work. To capitalize on this I work on the more difficult tasks before lunch and leave filing and other tasks I find easier until after lunch.

 Minimize multi-tasking

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The estimate is that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity switching from one task to another, which is what happens a lot of the time when you are multi-tasking.

This has been the hardest thing for me to stick to. Multi-tasking and jugging multiple projects come with the territory for librarians. We’re used to getting stopped and started on multiple tasks throughout the day. So, I took this idea of minimizing multi-tasking and applied it more broadly – I put my phone in a drawer and didn’t look at it until lunch since I’m guilty of checking work e-mail on my phone while I’m managing something in the stacks. I also told myself I wouldn’t fill up my water bottle until a specific task is finished since the water fountain is near the mail room and co-workers who might corner me with a new project when my previous one isn’t finished. So far it’s going good but I’m still trying to learn how to implement this idea into my professional life when so much of what I do is multi-tasking.

Have you tried implementing any of these productivity boosters into your work workday? Do you have any other ideas for how to focus during times of change? Feel free to share with us in the comments!

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