As a new manager, I’m always interested in learning about new ways to motivate my team and increase our productivity. I was lucky enough to attend the recent ‘S.P.R.I.N.T. – The Six Pillars of the Future-Fit Recruiter’ event with Greg and Chris Savage, hosted by the Recruitment & Consulting Services Association, where I absorbed some great recommendations on how to achieve both of these objectives.
The first three months of the year can be an interesting time, as there’s a bit of an invisible conflict between it being the beginning of a new calendar year, yet coming up to the end of our financial year. On one hand, everyone’s had a bit of a break over Christmas and the New Year, and (hopefully) we’ve all achieved, or are well on the way to achieving what we set out to do in April last year. Come February, the holiday period seems like a distant memory, when you’ve settled back into work and still have two months left before the second ‘new year’ where you’ll be focused on a fresh set of goals.
This is where managing people can become tricky, right? Everyone works differently. What motivates one person on my team may be completely irrelevant to the person who sits next to them, and vice versa. One thing that I do know applies to my whole team however, is that no matter how much we love what we do, we also love having a life outside of the office! Any tips that can increase our productivity between 8am and 6pm are always welcome, so I was particularly excited to hear about the following time management techniques:
1. The Pomodoro Technique
Created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s/early 1990s (depending on which account you’re reading), The Pomodoro Technique is one of those things that is so simple it’s almost frustrating to hear about because you think you should be doing it already! Basically, the idea is to break large bodies of work into smaller chunks which are performed in timed intervals (pomodoros) and followed by a short break.
How the Pomodoro Technique works (Productivity 101: A Primer to The Pomodoro Technique by Alan Henry):
- Choose a task to be accomplished
- Set the Pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes
- Work on the tasks until the Pomodoro rings
- Take a short break (5 minutes)
- Rinse and Repeat
- Every four Pomodoros take a longer break (15-30 minutes)
It’s important to remember that these chunks of time are to be dedicated to one task, so it’s best to inform others that you’re not to be distracted until the timer goes off (where possible).
2. Eat That Frog
You may have heard of a book called Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy; I hadn’t personally but ‘Eat That Frog’ is now my new mantra! As per the book description on Amazon: “There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Using “eat that frog” as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day – the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also probably the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life…You’ll not only get more done faster, but get the right things done.”
The day my job requires me to do something as awful as eating a live frog will likely be the day I resign and run away to Bali, but until that point I’ll be putting this into practice each day.
The next two time management tips that have caught my attention come from author Gretchin Rubin and her Happier podcast (which I highly highly recommend). Rubin’s podcasts, hosted with her sister Elizabeth Clark, are the perfect length for filling in that ‘wasted’ time while I’m getting ready for work each morning.
Each podcast, Rubin and Clark kick things off with a ‘try this at home’. Here are the two that have resonated with me recently.
3. Power Hour
In work life as well as home life there’s always a list of tasks that you just really can’t be bothered doing i.e. cleaning the fridge, sorting out your work desk drawers, dealing with that email that’s been sitting in your inbox for three weeks… They’re not urgent and nothing terrible is going to happen if you don’t deal with them right now, but they will constantly be sitting in the back of your mind, nagging at you until you deal with them.
Rubin’s answer to this is to set aside one hour, once a week to work steadily on these chores and call it her power hour. During this hour she tackles “only tasks where I had no deadline, no accountability, no pressure – because these were the tasks that weren’t getting addressed.” (find the podcast here)
Recruitment is one of those jobs where you can always be busy but the key to success is being busy with the right things. After eight years as an agency recruiter, I know exactly what I need to be doing, at what times of the day, to be successful. Part of managing and training the Business Support team has been about teaching them what needs to be done during core business hours and what can wait. The power hour is a great tool to dedicate time to those activities that don’t mean anything to anyone else, but when done at the wrong time, can seriously impact your productivity, and therefore your success.
4. One Minute Rule
Again so simple, yet I love it – any task that can be finished in one minute, just do it.
Answering an email, hanging your coat up when you get home, putting your mug in the dishwasher (many an office worker will be instigating a ‘one minute rule’ sign in their staff kitchen after reading this), deleting long forgotten documents from your desktop…
This is such a pain-free productivity enhancer that I started following it immediately after listening to this podcast. As result, I have found it much easier to get my inbox down to zero emails by the end of each day, I can find things at home so much faster and my flatmate no longer has to tell me off about leaving my dishes on the bench (sorry Katherine, I got there eventually!).
If you’ve stumbled across my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that I describe my team and I as the most responsive and approachable Business Support recruiters in Wellington. A well-known grumble about our industry is the lack of, or slow response from recruiters to their candidates and clients. I can draw a line in the sand with my team and set the expectation that they will be the most responsive recruiters in the Wellington market, but my job is also to give them the tools to do that – such as the tips above. If you’re also a people leader, I hope that some of these ideas resonate with you, or that if I place a candidate with you, they’ll have also have read my blog and do me proud!