Graduate Management News

April 2016

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Make it Happen: Productivity Simplified

Five essentials for making your job – and life – easier.

Professional Development Tips

With the abundance of demands on your time, it’s easy to feel as though you’re constantly behind the eight ball. Even if you understand the basics, like completing your most important task first each day, it’s still helpful to get some help organizing our time more effectively. Consider these tips for time management.

  • Synchronize your calendars. We all have more than one device, and you may also have a desk or wall calendar in addition to your computer and smartphone. Eliminate confusion by spending some time ensuring that all of your calendars say the same thing. If you can’t get by with just one, then make sure they’re all synched up.

  • Assign an action plan to every project. You’ve heard the expression, “There’s no there there.” Coined by Gertrude Stein, the phrase is now used to convey a lack of substance or action as it relates to a subject or task. Make sure your projects all have a “there” by identifying the steps necessary to follow them through to an accomplishment.

  • Track your time. Closely related to the action you assign to each project, keeping a log of the time you spend on each task will offer a window into your productivity. How much time are you losing on unimportant tasks? Where do your interruptions come from? Are certain days of the week more productive than others? Arming yourself with your time management data will help you streamline your day and become more cognizant of interruptions and distractions.

  • Plan for the unexpected. In work and in life, things happen that we can’t predict. If your schedule is too tight, then you’re not allowing for the unexpected. Leaving unscheduled blocks of time will go a long way toward eliminating the frustration you feel when you’re rushed. Build a buffer against the unexpected.

  • Take breaks. Yes, this may seem counter intuitive if you’re goal is to optimize every moment of your workday. But, sessions of focused work followed by up to 15 minutes of something else will actually improve your productivity. After 45 minutes our ability to focus starts to taper off and we no longer optimally perform. Getting up and doing something to distract you from your focused work will allow you to recharge and may also stimulate ideas.

Create your list of productivity tips today and take the next steps toward making your day, your job and your life less stressful and more productive.