As a manager, you might struggle with handling workload, meeting deadlines, social media distraction, and, yes, some ineffective time management techniques. So obviously, you tend to ask how to stay productive.
Let me ask: Do you want to create an approach that increases your productivity? I’m saying don’t just pick time management techniques and implement them. Instead, understand your strength, then choose and use methods that can help you manage your workload adequately.
In this article, you’ll find proven methods that will help you increase your output every day as a manager. Discover productivity ideas from people like the founder of Unsplash, Micheal Cho, and other managers like you. In addition, you won’t only develop strategies but use tools and personalize your work process.
Ladies and gentlemen, shall we begin?
How to stay productive as a manager
A lot of responsibility comes with being a manager. You’re like the driver keeping the company moving in the right direction, and if the target isn’t getting closed, you’re the first person to answer the management.
The workplace and its requirements can also be dynamic. What works at company A might not work at company B. For example, a remote freelancing business is not the same as an on-site construction firm. But in this post, I will explain how to stay productive and strategies you call use to manage workload.
Let’s start with the perks of being the manager. You have to check how a number of people are going about their jobs. Their execution and level of productivity are partly your responsibility, and you have to bring the organization closer to its goals.
At the same time, it means you are attending to a lot of important distractions each time. These include
- Important but many phone calls
- tons of emails
- Meetings, a lot of them
- Urgent issues/ unplanned events
Sometimes, your day can be unpredictable. One minute you’re sitting in the office, and the next, you are in another town, attending a meeting.
So what should you do?
Let’s keep it short. This is because you don’t even have the time to read a long article (and because this website’s tag is “what if life is simple?”).
You should ask these important questions, and with your answers, you can form strategies to manage workload:
- What worked for me in the past?
- What are the most important tasks today?
- How can I do less work?
I know the third question might seem odd, but it is the best of them.
I’ll get to it soon.
#1. What worked for you in the past?
Think about the last time you had a blast at work in terms of your level of productivity. Recall how productive you were and the tasks completed for the day. Yet, you have enough time to rest.
Can you replicate a part of that process?
Was it the tool, the location, the task, or the people around you?
Is there something you can use again? Are the people you work with the reason for your productivity? Can you hire those kinds of people again? Or, if possible, can you bring them around now.
Now you’re getting the idea. The plan is to find solutions to how to stay productive using what has once worked for you. When you think about it, you’ll consider your strengths and weaknesses. For example, did you work hard, or was the environment so energizing? It could mean you work better in a kind of environment.
#2. What is the most important task for today?
Think about the assignment that must be executed before the other one. To do this, you might need a tool to write down and arrange tasks. This is important when you have to find out how to manage workload.
- A note and a pen are the best because there’s a powerful psychological benefit to writing. When your finger writes, the brain is active.
- An app like EverNote, Google Keep, or Trello.
- A vision board
Collect all the tasks and arrange them according to their level of importance
Of course, you want to finish it all on day one, but you and I (and your company’s big annual goal) know it’s not possible. So you have to push some tasks to the next day.
Also, while planning, you want to keep your company’s goal in mind. Let it guide you when you’re moving a task up or down on your schedule.
Next, mark the task at three places according to how you would feel if they are accomplished at the end of each day.
Let’s say you have 10 tasks on the list. Completing the task to number 10 can be considered “exceptional,” number 7 can be “productive,” and stopping at number 3 can be “unproductive.”
At the end of each day, you can assess your performance according to your expectations.
This is a suggestion. Sometimes, your number 1 task can be productive if you’re using the “Eat the frog approach.” This idea is described in the book of the same title, which says you should do your biggest work every day. In that case, doing the most difficult task can be classified as productive.
Try to allocate time and place to each task
There is a study called “implementation intention.” It says people who define the time and place of doing their task are more likely to follow through.
“In one study, implementation intentions helped individuals perform the necessary behavior when their goal intention (i.e., writing about their Christmas Eve) had to be performed at a busy time (i.e., during Christmas Day). Or, in another study, individuals who formed implementation intentions about when and where to exercise were more likely to exercise at the place and time specified and therefore more likely to achieve their overall goal to exercise more.”Source
A manager at Google also wrote a letter that explains the process to their staff.
The mail goes into detail about how you can structure your week.
So you might want to consider allocating the triggers, time, and place of each task for each day.
Here is an example of implementation intention (using triggers):
If I wake up late, I won’t have breakfast. (When you wake up late, you choose to go to work without a first meal)
Use time and place, too.
l will read the copy of X magazine at 8 am, in my car on my way to work
But if you can’t do it because it takes a lot of time, consider the third question on the list below.
However, you should think about this:
How do you take control of your day? I think it’s about knowing what you want to achieve, what you can do to achieve it, and what you can postpone—every day. Adequate planning helps.
Zuck says it better when he says:
“Work is a process, and the whole process has to be controlled. To make work productive, therefore, it requires the construction of appropriate controls for the work process.”Mark Zuckerberg
#3. How do I do less?
I once heard a quote that says; lazy people are the best at being productive because they will find a way to do the job by doing less. It’s nice, but I’m wondering about “how will the lazy person do it?” Is it by sitting around and letting others do their job?
You want to use this option without becoming an annoying boss or manager. These are the things you want to consider when you think about how to do less work:
Allocate tasks to the right people who can handle them. Maybe divide the task into parts and let someone start while you finish it or vice versa.
The co-founder and former CEO of AngelList, Naval Ravikant, says it better:
Set and enforce an aspirational hourly rate. If fixing a problem will save less than your rate, ignore it. If outsourcing a task will cost less than your rate, outsource it. Get comfortable disappointing people whose expectations will eat your life up, one hour at a time.
What type of talent can make your work easier? If you can afford them, then that’s a great thing. If you can’t hire a full-time talent, consider outsourcing to someone.
You can outsource to people in other countries or locations at an affordable rate. The service might even be cheaper depending on who and where you’re hiring. You can outsource to qualified people on places like
These are a generic marketplace, and they include every job you can think of. If you are looking for a specific skill set, consider checking the perfect place for such talents. Some them are
- Problogger (freelance writing and website developers)
- Toptal (programmers)
- Unsplash (photographers)
By the way, I’m a freelance blogger and SEO writer. I help business owners develop an SEO strategy for their websites. This job involves finding how to put your business in front of more people, increasing the number of visitors to your website. Let’s talk about how to make your website famous.
If you do something every day, find a way to automate it using the right technology. For example, do you need to create an Autoresponder for customer care, or do you reply to every mail?
- You can create a guide instead of repeating the same process again and again.
- Do you have a common question or onboarding process? Maybe you can create a video and audio file and send it when someone asks the same question.
- Can you create a template you can follow for a task you repeat regularly? It saves time.
I have explained how this works under the second question above. You list your important tasks for the day and leave the rest till the next day.
How to manage workload
When your daily schedule or workload increases all of a sudden, it’s difficult to be productive. Planning your day won’t work.
With too much work, time seems insufficient. Although some of the ideas I’ve mentioned earlier might help, you need to do something different. You can handle a lot of work when you delegate, prioritize, and automate some work processes. But those are not always enough.
Find out how to manage your workload.
These are 7 Tips for effective workload management
#1. Hire a mentee
This idea is a little different from hiring generally. It is a little bit more specific because you want to hire someone who has that passion for the kind of work you do. You want to hire someone who wants to be more than an employee, someone who wants to be like you.
So it is difficult, but it’s possible, especially if you are a reputable manager younger people look up to as a mentor.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you should hire a fresh graduate and give them the description of an errand boy. Think of the three levels of mastery described in Robert Greene’s Mastery, or think of what you read about Leonardo Da Vinci, the great artist, and his teacher, Andrea del Verrochio.
#2. Hire a Virtual assistant
This action also falls under delegating, but it’s a bit more specific. Hire someone to handle some of the tasks you should be spending time on. Those minor activities like sending emails or managing social media, which managers spend a lot of time doing, can be outsourced to a qualified professional in the freelance market.
#3. Remove time wasters
Well, according to statistics
- Many managers could spend about 23 hours in meetings every week
- An average of 16day/year is spent locating a file
- Another time-waster is procrastination.
I know about the third because this post should have been up some days earlier than it did.
What are your time wasters? First, you should name what you consider a waste of time in your work. Then try to eliminate them.
Slow and repetitive work are time wasters. You can automate them with tools as one of the strategies to manage workload.
#4. Use only the tools you need
How many tools do you genuinely need? As a freelance SEO writer, I only need three or four things. I need a laptop, Google Docs, and Grammarly app, my chrome tab, and a few extensions (Ahref and Moz) to work. What about you?
Too many tools can slow you down when they aren’t working or when they require your attention. They can cause distractions. So, if it doesn’t help you immediately, maybe let it be for now.
#5. Create time for deep work
If a project is important, but something always comes up each time you try to execute it, create a time. Get in a state of flow, shut your office door, turn off your phone, and work on it for a given period. Let it be that only the fire alarm or the police kicking the door can stop you.
Things that might help you when you block out time to work:
- Good music
- A bottle of water or drink
- An alarm clock
#6. Spend your morning wisely
“Eat your frog” does work. When it comes to how to stay productive, attending to the biggest or most difficult project earlier can help. If a task will slow you down later or disturb your focus during an important activity, consider handling it first or early in the day. That sense of accomplishment after you finish the work can encourage you to be productive. Continue the day knowing you have hacked how to manage workload.
#7. Know when to rest
Learn to stay healthy. Quality resting time is one of the things you do to stay productive although it might seem like the time you could put to work.
85% of US workers are affected by work-related stress. Take some needed rest.
Finally, iterate, improve and build
Managing another group of professionals with your other job responsibilities is a tough task. But, no one is born with that competence until they learn, improve and gain lots of experience.
So, let’s close with that 3 things. First, iterate or repeat a step if it works for you. Then, improve it to make your work even easier. Then build or automate as soon as you can. In other words, be smart to simplify your daily struggles. That’s how to stay productive as a manager.
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