Goodies are showing up in offices everywhere for the holidays. We love that about this time of year and particularly enjoy home baked treats. Along these lines, we found a story that had to have involved some very serious home baking, as a Guinness World Record has been broken for the world's largest gingerbread house. The house is 22 feet long and is made of thousands of pounds of butter, flour, sugar and eggs. Its outside is also decorated with more than 23,000 hard candies. It was built by a team of volunteers as a fundraiser for a local hospital, but we can only imagine that the town's rodents will have a field day while it is on display.
Banks are closing out the year and in general looking towards 2014 and trying to figure out what to expect ahead. We think it's a good time to reflect personally on what has worked and not worked in the past year, plus explore some ideas to improve personal productivity in the year to come. This morning we therefore pass on a few thoughts in this area.
Organize your space. This may mean getting clutter off your desk, but for many, it means organizing files better in your computer. Delete or move old files and icons out of your regular work space, then you will be able to find what you need more quickly and easily.
Plan ahead and look to daily, weekly, monthly and longer term. Having goals and milestones both long and short term helps you attain success and recognize your accomplishments.
Do similar tasks together if possible in your job. Many of us proclaim to be wonderful at multitasking, but study after study shows humans are just not capable of such feats and doing so can be 40% less effective. We are likely to be more efficient if we do technical, difficult things when our energy levels are highest and we are likely to be more successful in our day overall.
Focus on your work for a period of time but then get up and take a break. Move around and take a walk down the street or around the building. Often taking a walk will wake you up more than drinking another cup of coffee.
Use tools and automation to work more efficiently. Maybe this involves asking for software or outside aids like better technology, but it could also mean building better templates for tasks done repeatedly to save time. Think about workflow and if there are more efficient ways in your personal work and in your department to accomplish tasks then put them into action.
Learn to delegate intelligently. Most bankers are detail oriented and control freaks to some extent, simply because the nature of our jobs requires accuracy. This often keeps us from teaching others to help us, but there are bound to be tasks that can be more efficiently accomplished by others (probably in areas that your own skills are not as strong). This preserves your time for tasks that really can't be accomplished as well by others.
Distractions are a way of life, but work to minimize them in 2014 to improve. This is especially important for people who work in customer facing roles, as incoming communication must be dealt with promptly. If your position does not require that you react immediately to every email and phone call, do it on a schedule and try not to react anymore to false urgency.
By spending a little time thinking about the structure of your day and week, you may be able to find ways to gain efficiency and thereby have more time to accomplish your work more efficiently and to be happier in your work.