At Hive, we’ve got a series called “7 Hours With” where we talk to leaders in their field about their roles, work style, and their best project management and productivity tips. Since Hive is all about productivity and managing projects, having these insights is valuable in helping us improve our product and expand our reach.
As a culmination of our first nine interviews, we’ve gathered a ton of tips talking to people who work at places like LinkedIn, Fabletics, and Harry’s—here’s a breakdown of the top four productivity and project management hacks we learned throughout our interviews.
Productivity Tip #1: Take Time Off When You Need It
Juliana Jaoudi, LinkedIn’s senior director of marketing solutions, had great perspective on work-life balance. One of our favorite quotes from her was “It’s actually not really work-life balance, it’s just work and life.” This may seem obvious, but many people operate inside of a strict 9-5, no-exceptions timeline.
“I like to leave my brain open to have excellent ideas outside of working hours. If you love what you’re doing, you’re able to live in this fluid space where it’s OK if there’s something that filters in on a weekend, or at night. And it works the other way too — maybe on a Wednesday afternoon you just have to turn work off because you need self care. That’s OK too.”
That type of schedule and flexible work environment allows people to really dig into work and maintain high levels of productivity when they need to, and remember that turning off the laptop is OK.
Productivity Tip #2: Time Block
PureWow’s Rachel Bowie is a huge fan of time blocking for personal and professional to-dos. She finds that blocking off her calendar into these small chunks really helps keep her accountable and productive throughout the day—especially since she’s got an adorable two year old at home!
“I’m a huge fan of time blocking when it comes to items on my to-do list. I actually keep a running Google doc of everything I want to get done in a day that I update every night before bed. I break each day out in sections: “before work,” “work,” and “after work,” then I categorize within those areas by separating to-do’s that take a ton of time and those that I can do quickly. I occasionally keep paper lists, too—and jot down to-do’s in various notebooks and on post-it’s throughout the day—but the Google doc is the place I funnel everything into since it’s so easy to update in real time (my day pivots a lot).”
We also spoke to the CEO and founder of FireHydrant, Robert Ross, who employs the Pomodoro technique of time tracking to his more technical work:
“This technique is basically working in 25 minute increments followed by 5 minute breaks. After 4 intervals I take a 15 minute break, and I work for two 25 minute sections with a 10 minute break every hour. Writing code is actually very mentally demanding, so you have to give your brain a bit of a break to keep it on track. You can’t run a car at full speed for an hour—you have to give it a break or you’re going to blow a fuse.”
Productivity Tip #3: Schedule Monthly Off-Sites
Harry’s Sebastian Hayto gave us a few great productivity tips, including labeling all of his emails as they filter into his inbox. But our favorite was his focus on monthly off-sites for his team.
“I hold at least one half or full day offsite per month to brainstorm new business opportunities and generally have fun. I find that it really bolsters productivity. This frequency might seem excessive, but I’ve found that they not only lead to some of the best ideas, but are also great for team bonding—they seriously make a difference.”
It’s statistically proven that a bonded team have improved project management skills and overall productivity, so we thought this was a brilliant idea. Why not ingrain time for bonding into the people’s monthly schedule?
Productivity Tip #4: Eliminate Notifications
In a world of incessant messages, emails and other pesky interruptions, notifications can become a huge productivity killer. This includes everything from social media, which the average person spends 3.2 hours on per day, and random Slack notifications from your office Fantasy Football team.
When we talked to Katy Donahue, Head of Operations and Strategy at Fabletics, she explained how she helpful she’s found eliminating notifications:
“I’ve turned off all email notifications on my desktop and mobile—it started as an experiment and I kept with it when it seriously increased my productivity.”
And this same sentiment was echoed by FireHydrant’s Robert Ross, who also mentioned how important it was for him to turn off his notifications:
“On Mac, you can change your notification settings very granularly. In the world of Slack, every message is a distraction and can pull you out of flow. When you’re changing windows you can see the number of messages on Slack, and you’re drawn to the notifications missed. You almost get Slack FOMO. But you can actually turn off that notification bubble, so you’re none the wiser if there are messages in Slack that you haven’t seen yet. You have to very explicitly open Slack to see them. I’ve done that for email too. The reality is that people don’t need you to respond in 5 minutes.”
Plus, the statistics are there to back up this notification elimination—it turns out these distractions could actually cut productivity by 40%. Who wants that?
Do These Productivity Tips Work For You?
So, what do you think about the above strategies? Have you tried any out yourself? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to recommend additional strategies that you think we should know test.
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