What is the best way to improve your productivity? We know that it’s important to remove distractions and Time Killers, plan your work in a calendar, stop procrastinating, etc… But what if you are doing all of that already? What next? Solution: Try changing the way you work. I looked for ways to change my work this summer and ended up finding a free program called Zotero that saved me hours of time.
People get stuck in a productivity rut when they get in a habit of doing their work a certain way and never stop to think if there is a better or more efficient way. If you are not constantly re-evaluating how your work processes could be better, you could be wasting loads of time.
Here are three ways to make sure you don’t get stuck in a bad productivity habit:
1) Be Aware of Changing Circumstances:Just because a process worked last year doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient way to do things this year! Circumstances change.
2) Don’t Work in a Vacuum: You don’t have to figure everything out by yourself. Talk to people in your industry. What resources do they use to get work done efficiently?
3) Be Open to New Methods: Sometimes, a better work solution is staring us right in the face but we don’t want to use it because, “That’s not the way we do things.” Be open to new ways of doing things, whether it is a new technology, new process or new idea.
How Changing My Process Saved me Hours
I was guilty of a bad productivity habit for the past year until I used the summer as a chance to re-evaluate the way I do academic work. In my master’s program, I frequently wrote papers and had my process pretty much down to a science. Now, in my PhD program, I also write papers frequently but they are much more research-based than before.
My circumstances had changed, but my process remained the same.
I was having a difficult time managing all of my research sources and citing them correctly in my paper. I asked one of my friends in my doctoral program how she handles it all. (Remember, don’t work in a vacuum!) She said, “Oh my goodness, I don’t do that all by hand! There are programs that manage all your sources for you.”
My first reaction was, “I like to do things by hand. That’s how I do things.” Besides, those programs were probably expensive and difficult to use. Then I realized that wasn’t being open to new methods.
I did a little digging on Google and found a great program called Zotero that is not only free, but easy to use. I no longer have to type all of my sources into my bibliography or try to sort them all by topic on note cards. The program does all of that for me. I have now saved myself hours of formatting work.
This week: I urge you to re-evaluate how you work. Once you open your mind to new ideas and methods, you may find yourself wondering how you ever worked “the old way.”
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(Photo Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=721 by Renjith Krishnan)