Like many who work in busy office environments, I find working in the sales department of PrintHouse busy, and verging on hectic most days.
First there’s the email inbox. I find myself responding to a stream of print quote requests, questions about delivery time lines and the occasional email from a mate asking if I can play footie at the weekend.
Next there’s the phone. The new client who has called to discuss her urgent print project. A customer relations call following up on the 5,000 brochures we delivered last week… and so on.
Then there’s the time required to physically get out of the office and visit my customers at their premises.
Before I know it every hour of the day has been filled. And I’m often left wondering whether I really achieved everything (and sometimes even anything) that I set out to accomplish at the beginning of the day.
That was at least the picture until I learned how to really get focused.
Nowadays I’m happy to report that my working schedule feels a bit less hectic. It’s not that I’m doing any less. In fact I’m actually getting a lot more achieved. It’s just that I’ve learned and then applied some really simple principles that mean that my work environment is just more… well productive!
Now regular readers of this PrintQuote Blog may recall that I’ve previously written about how to get an extra hour out of your working day. This article shares my secret for ensuring that what you do is actually productive whilst you’re at work.
And the real key is focus.
Having determined my top priority I try to switch off to everything else. Now that might sound like a tough call. After all, how can you simply ignore those other pressing deadlines, the ping from Outlook as another email is delivered and so on…?
The answer is to take a few preparatory steps.
When I know that my top task is to complete that complex quote request for a new 48 page brochure with 8 different print finishing variations and delivery options, I move to block out outside disturbances before I sit down to work on the project itself.
I actually close down Outlook
In order of severity, depending on how much free space I need I do some or all of the following:
1. Close down my email inbox for half an hour.
2. Inform colleagues that I’m tied up with a project for the next 30 minutes.
3. Switch off my phone (I don’t usually do this because I want someone to be able to text me as a last resort).
4. Close down my browser and switch off that streaming radio station.
Of course there are many other possibilities, but the key point is to stay absolutely focused on the task in hand. Get that job finished and you’ll be able to move onto your second priority. But before starting priority Number Two I’ll check back in on my email and ask for any messages. Surprisingly, despite the fact that I would have doubtless spent loads of time taking calls and answering emails during my quiet half hour, the truth is that I’ve rarely missed anything really time sensitive. Had that of been the case then one of my colleagues would, in exceptional circumstances, alerted me anyway.
At the end of a week operating with this newly self-imposed discipline I was hooked on working to this new stricter shedule.
The bottom line is that it really works. And if you follow the same approach then you should get to experience that same positive end of day glow that I now more often experience. That is the satisfaction of knowing that during your working hours you stayed focused and actually got something achieved.
By the way… if one of things you need to achieve this week is to get a design or print quote for a project that you’re working on then you can take that pressure off straight away. Just go here https://printhouse.co.uk/quote and drop me a line with the print quote spec. I’ll promise to get back to you in a quick and focused manner!