Busy doing … what exactly?

Whether it’s to do with their work or their life, many of my clients cite increased productivity as one of their key goals. There’s a danger of equating busyness with effectiveness which seems to cause frustration when you come to the end of the day and think ‘well, I’ve hardly looked up from my desk all day today but what did I actually do?’

During our sessions, my clients have devised several strategies for maximising their productivity and I thought I’d share some of them with you every now and then. They’re not all relevant to every situation – pick one you like the look of and see how it works for you.

Five practical productivity pointers

Right through first time

Do you ever do this?  A document comes in which you know you need to file away safely but you just chuck it on your desktop (real or virtual!) to be put in the correct place ‘when I get a minute’.

You could try this. Once you start working on a task, keep going right to the end – don’t switch mid-task. If you do, you risk losing valuable time trying to remember where you got to last time. If something comes up during the task, make a note of it and pick it up once you’ve finished.


Take a typical repetitive task which you have to perform fairly frequently. Break it down into steps. Do they all make sense? Would they work better in a revised order?  Can you test out a different way and see if that would be more effective?

One client took a fresh look at the way in which he generated his weekly reports. In doing so, he happened to discuss the process with a colleague from another team who pointed out that she could supply some of the data he needed. That plus his revised way of working is saving him half an hour each time he writes the report.

Mind the gap 

How many minutes slip by whilst you wait for a meeting to begin? What else could you do in the 30 minutes you’re pounding the pavement on your way to work or out on a run? We’re all aware of those odd gaps of time in which your brain is just ticking over.

One client has used her walk to work to learn French; another carries a folder of invoices to sign off if he’s waiting for a meeting to start. What could you do?

Set the agenda

Circulating a clear agenda in advance keeps you all on track, means you don’t forget an important topic and allows participants to prepare. One client reported back that his weekly 90 minute team catch up is now effectively achieved in an hour since the team started setting an agenda for the meeting.


Supermarkets group similar products together – you don’t find a lemon in aisle one and then have to hike over to aisle seventeen to find an orange. Why not similarly batch your tasks and see if that’s more productive for you?

One of my clients tries to book as many of her meetings as possible on one day rather than dotting them throughout the week. If you have some forms to complete, can you do several at the same time whilst your brain is in paperwork mode?

Those of just five of the strategies my clients have devised to improve their productivity.

Today’s pebble for you to ponder:

What step can you take to increase your productivity?

If you’ve got a great idea, I’d love to hear from you,


ps if improving your productivity is one of your goals and you feel that having a coach alongside you would be helpful, why not email me to see how we can work together?

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

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One Response to Busy doing … what exactly?

  1. Pingback: Another handful of productivity pointers | Turning over pebbles

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