Get Stuff Done: 3 Key Principles for Greater Productivity

February 8, 2017 Kelly Santina

by Kelly Santina

I recently had a client send over an eBook with the subtitle of “Get S**t Done,” and it made me smile the rest of the week thinking about that simple phrase. Isn’t that what work is about, getting stuff done?

Every minute of the workday (and minutes spent outside of work for that matter) is a constant exercise in prioritizing things. Be it task A over task B, project X over Y, or even one team member’s needs over another’s, each minute we are evaluating and deciding what to do first…and next.

In my role as head of operations and media at Convince & Convert, I’m also dubbed (lovingly, of course) the “head task master.” And I like it that way. Being a ninja in our project management system surely helps, but also experience in prioritizing not only my work but work of others is also key to success.

Here are three key ideas we use at Convince & Convert to not only get s**t done, but also keep our culture healthy and happy:

1. Time Block

At first you may roll your eyes, but give it a chance. Maybe your week is already booked with meeting after meeting, leaving very little time for actual work. If you start to time block for next week or the week after (before too many meetings creep in), you’ll see this quickly pay off.

Particularly for concrete deliverables, our entire team time blocks their calendar. Time blocks are usually 2 hours of time, multiple times a week. That time is dedicated work time on a SINGLE specific project. No meetings, no phone calls, no interruptions come during those time blocks.

This method has two inherent benefits. The first being that you know you will have dedicated time to work on a deliverable. This should reduce your stress on a project by ensuring you meet a deadline. Additionally, time blocking should allow you to be more productive at other tasks as you can focus on things in a dedicated fashion.

Each team member protects their time blocks individually by declining requests made over those blocks and by turning off email and phone messages during that time. We have also built a culture of respect around those time blocks internally, which makes everyone more productive and frankly, happy.

Bonus tip: We adopt this philosophy for our family time as well. Life gets busy! We essentially “time block” our family dinner time to ensure we have dedicated time with our kids multiple times a week as well. This is non-negotiable time, and it’s needed to make sure we connect personally, too.

 

2. Create a MUST DO List

What are the things that MUST get done in a day or a week’s time? In addition to your time-blocked large deliverables, what smaller items need to also be completed for you to be successful?

Make it a habit to write these things down. Write them down with a pen in a paper organizer, type them on a morning calendar alert on your phone, or type them in a “sticky” note app on your desktop. Whatever mechanism works for you, the concept is the same: WRITE them down.

Anything unexpected that comes into the day or week needs to be assessed against the current list of must-dos, and adjustments can be made from there. Seeing them in black and white allows you to systematically make decisions about priority on must-do items.

It’s a simple question that likely you do on auto-pilot already: “Does this new item bump anything already on the must-do list?” If the answer is yes, evaluate if that is acceptable to being successful? If the answer is no, slot that item onto the next week or day’s must-do list.

Bonus tip: We too use this in our personal lives by helping our kids understand the must-dos for the week and allowing them to work through the choice of changing that list when new opportunities or events come into play.

3. Be Accountable

I am blessed to work with the most amazingly responsible team at Convince & Convert. Each member takes their deadlines and contributions seriously, making our team dynamic like none other.

But even with a high-functioning team, we are all human. Life throws you curve balls at mock speed some days. Find another team member to be your accountability partner——someone who can encourage you when you need it and also kick you in the rear when you need it.

For some, this may be your manager. For others, it’s a peer who can understand your goals and help you assess each week for course correction and refinement.

Carve out a check-in time with your partner and hold each other to that time. Fifteen minutes over a coffee on Tuesday mornings can not only brighten your morning routine but also be a key factor to get s**t done that week.

About the Author

Kelly Santina

As the head of operations and media for the consulting group Convince & Convert, Kelly is responsible for all internal operations. A veteran of more than 15 years in the digital marketing industry, she most recently served as the vice president of marketing for Thunderbird School of Global Management, the leading international business school in the world, as well as a senior leader with the top digital advertising agency in Phoenix. At Convince & Convert, Kelly oversees team efforts, maximizes efficiency and organization, and contributes to overall strategy and development of new products and services.

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