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Bamboozled? Here are 3 expert strategies to be productive at work

September 03, 2021

EW

By Emma Woodhouse
Global Corporate Communications, CWT

Getting work done is tough. Getting work done when there’s a pandemic happening is even harder. Even for those who haven’t had to adjust to hybrid working or been plunged back into a lockdown, it can be a struggle to stay on top. Here are some tips from experts.

Use trapped time to work out big ideas

“Most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way,” says Cal Newport, author of ‘Deep Work.’

Now that travel has picked up and some people are commuting into work, Newport advocates using time spent on the train, or tidying the kitchen to conceptualize an idea rather than check emails or browse Instagram.

Ask questions at the outset

We often blame ourselves when we feel that we can’t accomplish a task. But even world leaders get imposter syndrome. Sometimes the culprit is a sub-par explanation or an assumption by the task giver that you’ll understand something they are more experienced in. As soon as you receive an instruction, get clear on the goal of the project asking as many questions as possible upfront. If you learn by doing, ask for handholding at the start so that you can take it forward alone. If you have competing priorities, ask which should be eliminated, streamlined or postponed to accommodate a new task.

Try the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule known as the Pareto principle came from the 19th century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who discovered the principle after noting that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population,

At its core, it means that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. In practice, focus on the small things that give you the biggest results.

How to 80/20 your work: Make a list of the 10 things you spend the most time on, choose the two that drive your results and plan to do more of those. Now look at the others. Eliminate them, automate or outsource what you can. Press pause on the rest or file under ‘future projects.’

To take the legwork out of planning and research, check for up-to-date travel requirements and book a venue for your next small meeting ahead of time.

 

 

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