ast month I shared the story of Emily and her overwhelmed staff who felt stressed by a large number of messages and tasks from a variety of communication channels, concerned that some were slipping through the cracks and not getting done. They were all hypervigilant about checking their communication sources, even long after their normal work hours. (Read the post here)
Emily and the team did a great job co-creating a system that worked for internal communications, however, a key productivity bottleneck remained. Individual team members are not capturing all the client tasks to be done.
At this point, the Productivity Bottleneck shifted. Instead of focusing on receiving (and being distracted and stressed by) so many notifications, now they need to create personal implementation systems so all the to-dos got done.
There are two aspects to making sure things don’t slip through the cracks:
- Capturing every single action item
- Implementing every single action item
They have a pretty good handle on the “capture” portion. But Emily and her team are still struggling with identifying and using an implementation system they could trust for many action items that arrived through channels other than their preferred Slack.
Back to the A.W.E. process of time management.
A – Awareness. Identify the actual productivity bottleneck.
W – Work. Create an easy-to-implement solution that solves the bottleneck.
E – Evaluation. Make sure the solution is working and that another productivity bottleneck didn’t emerge.
A strong implementation system has a process for turning to-dos into done. As Emily, her team, and I work through the AWARENESS phase, we recognized that they each used a different “capture” method when it came to completing their tasks.
- A notebook – with all tasks listed and crossed out as completed
- Todoist – a mobile to-do list app
- Trello – all to-dos either assigned to a project or as individual dated tasks
- Digital calendar – to-dos entered as an appointment on a specific date and time
- Slack – messages in slack are to-dos
- Email – messages in the inbox have a flag of to-do
They all realized that their overall implementation system worked for whatever tasks made it into the system, but the problem was all the tasks that didn’t make it into the system.
Since Emily and her team began using a variety of implementation systems, they also need a variety of WORK solutions. They need an easy way to get the information from different channels onto their personal version of a to-do list.
Here are three of their solutions:
- FORWARD – Many of the communication channels already have a way to forward to other channels. For instance, when a message comes via Voxer, the recipient can forward it to Slack after listening. Now the action item sits in the “to-do list container,” ready for implementation.
- END OF DAY – They already had created a list of communication channels. Now, at the end of the day, they systematically review each channel for messages and add the action items from the Post-It notes, text messages, and phone calls onto the to-do list.
- EMAIL (my personal favorite) – When having a conversation while driving and an action item is discussed, have the other person email a note so you can add it to your to-do list and get it out of your head.
After 2 weeks of working through their individual implementation systems, we EVALUATED to see if the solutions were working.
- Each team member’s confidence had increased and stress had decreased.
- They shared that they no longer were waking up in the middle of the night worried they forgot to send an email.
- Because now they are on top of everything, they found they had fewer emergencies and didn’t need to text each other after work hours.
- Plus, they found time to complete client projects even more quickly.
- A couple of team members even added to the end-of-day routine by jumping on Zoom together, playing an upbeat song while they check all their communication channels together.
Now, the Productivity Bottleneck is solved!
Emily and her team are typical of the clients I work worth. They start with one bottleneck – being overwhelmed and spinning from so many notifications, messages, and to-do items – and once that one is solved, they uncover another.
The great thing about this group is they are open to trying new things, diligent about making things easier for each other, and motivated to give the best client experience possible to all their customers. These traits helped them get to the bottom of their productivity bottlenecks easily and quickly.
If your team is just as awesome as Emily’s and you are ready to work less and achieve more but aren’t sure how – the Time Thief Eliminator is your first step.