Many team members come in ready to accomplish their work goals, but some may get less done than they’d hoped. Rarely is that due to insufficient skills – low-quality work is different than being a bit behind on deadlines. The issue is more like a lopsided use of time or a learning curve when it comes to time management. A productivity plan can help.

Wondering why? Well, think about all the distractions in your day-to-day life and the interruptions your team members may experience. There’s the onslaught of emails, the irresistible temptation to check social media between tasks, and the extra tasks that seemingly appear out of thin air, to start. With all that, of course your team’s productivity is impacted! Here’s how a productivity plan can help you bounce back – for good.

What is a productivity plan? 

A productivity plan is a structured, clear schedule that organizes your day around short-term or long-term goals you’d like to accomplish. These goals can be anything from completing a particular project to adopting more positive workplace habits. 

Once you’ve settled on a goal, your productivity plan can help you prioritize tasks as needed to achieve it. It can also help you track the amount of time it takes to do so – this way, you can plan better for the next go-round. 

Stay organized

Have all your meeting notes and action items in one place so you never lose track of what you need to do. Have it all in Fellow!

Who could benefit from a productivity plan?

While productivity plans are certainly beneficial, not every team member will feel the need to create one. There are people whose work thrives in down-to-the-wire chaos (crazy, right?). For these people, disarray breeds the best, most creative solutions and the greatest surges in motivation. 

A big caveat, though: People like that are generally few and far between. For the most part, disorganization can be damaging to your team and just feel bad on a personal level. So really, anyone in an organization can benefit from implementing an effective productivity plan. And so too can the whole organization. Below, we’ve outlined several organizational and individual productivity plans that can help with time management. 

The organizational productivity plan

The following three types of organizational productivity plans are especially useful for making sure you’re spending your time wisely.

  • Operational planning. Basically, operational planning measures who does what and when within your organization. It helps you keep track of the various roles within your team and organization and how the people in these roles interact. An operational productivity plan can uncover hidden inefficiencies in your work and help you streamline your processes to improve productivity.
  • Strategic planning. Strategic planning is when you analyze your organization’s day-to-day processes and build policies based on your findings. It requires a SWOT analysis on your organization and team: What’s great? What’s not-so-great? What can you improve? What comes with the territory? Answering these questions can help you implement procedures that capitalize on strong points and address weak ones.
  • Tactical planning. Tactical planning determines team leaders’ role in increasing productivity. If strategic and operational planning are like plays in football, then tactical planning is like picking a coach that matches a particular team. Assigning the best managers to oversee specific parts of the productivity plan makes your strategy more likely to succeed. 

The individual productivity plan 

Your individual team members could benefit from the below two types of productivity plans:

  • Productivity goals. Examples of these productivity plans could be setting a long-term goal to gradually increase one’s employee productivity, whether for yourself or a teammate. Or an employee can independently create a productivity plan of their own to boost their productivity levels.
  • Training. If you want to get really granular when you’re helping an employee do more, you can provide step-by-step instructions for improvement. For example, you could try setting daily tasks that slowly increase in difficulty. This sort of productivity plan can encourage employees to develop the skills most important for their role. 

Steps of creating a productivity plan

So, you now know what a productivity plan is and why it’s great, but how do you set one up? It takes a bit more than devising goals and scheduling daily tasks. Several factors can influence your productivity, and a good productivity plan addresses them all via the below steps.

1 Stay in the realm of possibility

A large part of creating a productivity plan is prioritizing your daily tasks. You might think that means listing each and every little task on your plate, even the less important stuff. You’d be wrong. Considering the importance of tasks is key – can you really be productive as smaller tasks steal time from more significant responsibilities? 

Including every little thing in your productivity plan is a good way to start feeling like you’ll never achieve your productivity goals. Avoid that! Instead, only include the tasks most central to your role. There’s a better way to handle the small stuff.

2 List all of your tasks, and batch similar ones 

Yes, highlighting your most important work can help you use your time more constructively. No, your smaller tasks won’t just disappear. That’s why you should set aside a specific time to deal with them all in one fell swoop. Try lumping together similar tasks to complete them all at once.

Think about it like this: Your brain needs time to adjust when it switches from one task to another. When you’re working on a series of unrelated tasks, your mind has to constantly refresh to keep the flow of ideas going. That’s exhausting. When you group a bunch of tiny tasks together, you can minimize these adjustment periods and plow through your littlest assignments.

3 Arrange the task list by importance

You’ll more than likely have plenty to do while on the job but not enough time to do it all. That’s why it’s easy to become less productive and get so bogged down that your primary responsibilities go overlooked. You can avoid this dilemma if your productivity plan ranks tasks by importance – this order makes for a much more effective productivity plan. Learning to organize your usual tasks by their importance creates a smoother day-to-day workflow that helps you get more done in less time.

There’s no hard rule as to what is or isn’t important. A good rule of thumb is to put the work with the nearest deadline at the top of the list. After that, sort your tasks based on which ones help you reach your workplace goals the fastest. Order your list based on these two considerations, and it’s much more likely to be effective.

4 Take breaks 

Breaks might seem counterintuitive to productivity, but really, productivity means more than just doing as much work as you can. It means doing work when you’re best equipped for it – our brains and bodies aren’t set up to run on all cylinders all day. So don’t work yourself to the bone, and don’t tell yourself you have too much work on your plate to afford a break. The most hectic circumstances are when you need the most rest.

Including a few small breaks in your productivity plan can help keep your mind fresh so you can work better for longer. Working nonstop can increase the risk of burnout, which can bring progress on your tasks to a screeching halt. Even a 10-minute break can make a big difference.

5 Set deadlines for each task

Assignments with non-definite deadlines are both a blessing and a curse for productivity plans. On the one hand, you can place these tasks lower on your priority list and adjust as needed. But, on the other hand, you can end up neglecting the assignment entirely to handle tasks with more definitive deadlines. You can get ahead of that issue now and start setting your own deadlines to avoid overlooking tasks with no hard timeline. 

Choosing to complete a task by a specific time rather than, say, within the next month commits you to the task sooner than later. This way, instead of letting your work rest on the backburner and interrupt your workflow, you account for it ahead of time and maintain productivity.

Create a plan for success

Low productivity isn’t the end of the world as long as you work yourself back out again. While some people can simply endeavor to work harder, you might find that raising productivity is about working smarter instead. That’s where a productivity plan comes in: It’s a powerful tool that can help you find and eliminate inefficiencies. And it’s not the only tool at your disposal. 

There’s also Fellow, an app that transforms meetings into top-notch workflows. With meeting action item features, digital to-do lists that you can easily share with your colleagues, and numerous integrations, increasing productivity has never been easier.