MONEY MONDAY: Make The Most Of Your Day And Get Ahead

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    Mellody Hobson is President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts.  Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS news.

    Tom: You want to talk about productivity this morning?

    Mellody:  I do! It is a simple truth: most people waste time at work. But across age groups, this trend is getting worse! According to a salary.com survey, the difference is stark when you compare generations. Boomers waste the least amount of time: about 41 minutes per day. Next are gen X’ers who waste 1.6 hours per day. But the biggest wasters are the Millenials. Millennials waste about 2 hours per day! Put differently, out of each month, Millenials waste one whole workweek!

    And wasting time can really stunt you professionally. So, this morning, I want to give our listeners some advice so they can be effective and get ahead! If you increase your productivity, you will stand out.

    Tom: You have me curious though, Mellody. What is causing people to waste time?

    Mellody: Well, there are a number of reasons employees say they waste time. The salary.com survey found that 34% of employees say they are not challenged, 32% say there’s no incentive to work harder, and 23% say they are just plain bored. And, as I am sure you can imagine, one of the biggest culprits is the internet. 64% percent of employees visit non-work related websites each day.

    But whatever the reason for lack of productivity, this is an opportunity to take the initiative and improve yourself, and your career! I want to share with you some tips that will help you be more engaged and effective at work, and that will hopefully get you some positive attention from your managers!

    Tom: Ok! Give us some advice!

    Mellody: the first thing that I would recommend is to work diligently to divide your professional day from your personal day. As personal technology has crept into the workplace, there has been a trend toward blending these two spheres together, but keeping them separate is very important. As a start, remove personal distractions from work – that means not logging into social media accounts, not texting friends, and not making personal calls while you are in the office. Removing these distractions will allow you to focus on work when you are at the office.

    My second piece of advice may sound simply, but it is important. Take the time to create daily and weekly task lists. By laying out what you need to do, you give yourself a map to your destination, and as you proceed through your list of tasks, you gain motivation from your accomplishments. Additionally, take time to prioritize your day the night before, not first thing in the morning. Think about the important tasks you have to take care of, any potential calls or meetings you have to prepare for and correspondence you have to complete. Designate 15 minutes at the end of every Friday to look ahead to the next week and compile a comprehensive task action plan.

    In the same vein, set ambitious but achievable middle and long-term professional goals, and give yourself a deadline for these goals. These goals should take as long as 2 weeks, 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days.  People that set higher goals have a tendency to be more satisfied than those with lower expectations, according to research published in the journal of consumer research.

    Finally, go to sleep early and wake up early. I talk about this a lot. My mother instilled in me a sense of urgency to utilize every hour of the day. She would always wake up before sunrise, and would tell me “if you sleep past 6 a.m., life will pass you by.” sleeping late and waking up early can be detrimental to your productivity the next day.  If you are half-awake at work, then the odds are that your quality of work will suffer.  So during the week, make sure you get your rest and are ready to go each morning!

    Tom: How does improved productivity get us recognized, Mellody?

    Mellody: When you’re working hard, it gets you involved with others in your office, so in many ways it is simple day-to-day engagement with peers and managers. But by being organized and focused, it is also easier to keep track of all of your accomplishments within the organization. By being more productive, you are much more likely to excel at your job. If you exceeded last quarter’s sales goals, the numbers won’t lie. And when you have achievements on your side, you are much more likely to get that raise or promotion.

    By being more productive, you will also be able to take on more responsibilities.

    This doesn’t mean that you should overextend yourself, but if you are more productive, you have more time to dedicate to that new project or role that will help you expand your skills. Developing a reputation as an ambitious employee with the ability to reach out beyond our expected task will be valuable, and will certainly not hurt as you work to get ahead.

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