Little changes that greatly improve your productivity

Sometimes we think that being more productive requires big, overwhelming changes to how we work and live.  Not true!  In this video, Dr. Gratias gives you five small things you can do that may have a big impact on your productivity.


Don’t want to watch the video?  A transcript is below.



Hi, this is Dr. Melissa Gratias, and today I want to talk to you about little changes that you can make that will have a great impact on your productivity.


So often we think “Oh I don’t want to even start down the path to more productivity because it’s so big. It’s gonna require so many major life changes and work changes, and I’m just exhausted as it is. I don’t want any more change, so I don’t even want to try”


But here are some little things, five very specific small things that you can do to help you be more productive at work.



1.)  Delete more email


The first thing: delete more email. Barbara Hemphill says that “clutter is postponed decisions”, so look at your email inbox. If you’ve got 244 emails sitting in your inbox (or 2444…whatever that number is), that’s the number of postponed decisions that you have in your email.


You don’t have to decide the fate of the world. Typically, you have to move it to a folder, you need to convert it to a task on your action items list or delete it. So, start out with the simplest:  delete more email.


Reduce the size of your electronic haystack of information by just being more prone to delete email. Get it out of there. Make that decision, and it will help you know how far you’ve gotten in your email processing, and help you feel a greater sense of accomplishment. So, little thing number one that you can do:  delete more email



2.)  Book travel time on your calendar


The second small thing that you can do to improve your productivity is to book travel time on your calendar just like any other normal appointment.


If it’s gonna take you 45 minutes to get there, you should probably block off an hour. Some of my clients work on corporate campuses where it’s a 15 to 20-minute walk from one part of the building to another. That should be on your calendar! Otherwise, you are counting on teleportation or people movers to get you from one place to the other, and that’s not realistic.


So, start booking travel time on your calendar, both to and from appointments, just like you would any other appointment. When you put something on your calendar, like if you have to go to the doctor’s office, book the travel time.


Also, it helps you know when to leave. You’ll be less likely to be late if you if you think ahead of time when you need to leave to get there on time AND give yourself a little bit of slack to run into traffic or whatnot.



3.)  Tear paper in half


This is a paper management tip.  You’re at your desk, and you’ve looked at something. Let’s just say this is a piece of paper that I have looked at, I did my thing with it, and I’m done with this. Rather than just put it to the side, tear it in half.


Ahh, that’s such a satisfying sound.  Anyway, tear it in half, and then if you don’t have easy access to a shred bin (or a recycle bin) then you can have a place on your desk that’s for paper to take to the shred bin on your next trip there.


But, it makes it so that you don’t have to pick the paper up and re-decide over and over again.  So, if you’re done with a piece of paper, tear it in half. That is your signal to yourself that this paper is dead to me. It is over. It can go into the great recycle bin or shred bin in the sky.


So, tear paper in half when you are done with it.



4.)  Use the timer app on your phone


The fourth little thing that you can do to greatly improve your productivity…you didn’t think I would pull my phone out. People think of it as a productivity suck. The phone itself doesn’t suck away your productivity. It’s the user, not the tool that makes it a productivity thief.


On almost every smartphone (if not all of them), there is an app where you can set a timer. A timer app is my favorite productivity tool.


Let’s say I’m at a lull in my work. I’ve got ten minutes, and I want to go on Facebook. I enjoy Facebook. Set a timer for ten minutes. That way, you can just immerse yourself in the Facebook experience and not keep watching the clock. Your timer will go will go off when your social media time is over.


Also, use your timer to help you when you’re procrastinating. If there’s a task on which you are procrastinating, you can say “I’m gonna focus on this for 15 minutes”, and set the timer for 15 minutes. You’re giving yourself permission to focus.


Use the timer app on your phone. It is such a fantastic productivity tool.



5.)  Turn off the notifications of incoming stuff


Lastly, and this one may be more difficult for some folks, but turn off all email and social media notifications on every device…on your computer…on your tablet…on your phone.


Turn off the email and social media notifications.


And, turning them off on your computer but leaving them on your phone OR turning off the auditory notification but leaving on the buzz is cheating! Cheating, I tell you. So, turn them all off. They are self-interruptions.


Did you know that 50 to 55% of interruptions are self-imposed? These notifications, that are set by default when you download an app or open your email application, these things are productivity thieves.


So, turn off the notifications of incoming email and all social media notifications on all devices.


Silent…nothing…nada…zilch…no email and social media notifications. You go into these tools and engage with them when you want to and maybe even set a timer to do so


Okay those were five things…

  1. Delete more email
  2. Put travel time appointments on your calendar
  3. Tear paper in half when you’re done with it
  4. Use the timer app on your phone
  5. Turn off notifications


These are small things that you can do that will have a huge impact on your productivity at work. It doesn’t have to be so complicated.


Contact me let’s talk. I can help demystify the productivity journey for you.


Go to my website and click on the productivity tips. Read some of those. Then, fill out the contact form. We can schedule a no-cost-to-you initial assessment where I can ask you some questions and you can ask me some questions and we’ll decide together whether productivity coaching is the right thing to help you make both the little and the big changes in your productivity, your work, and your life.


This is Dr. Melissa Gratias. I hope you have a productive day.  Bye bye.


Crazy Productive eBook Series

Are you ready to prioritize tasks, address time challenges, and master your information?

Buy the Crazy Productive series and you will receive all six books at a discounted price.

Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like what you read?

Get new posts directly in your inbox!

You might also like these posts…

Enjoying these posts? Make sure you dont miss any!

If you enjoy my blog posts and want to make sure you never miss one - sign up for my newsletter! When you do, you'll also get instant access to my FREE webinar on interruptions in the workplace.

Interruptions can kill productivity. With one “Got a minute?” from a coworker or one stray thought swirling in your brain, the flow of your work can be completely disrupted.

The trouble is that few people have concrete strategies to get back on task quickly after an interruption. Some people completely lose focus…for hours! If you have tried reducing interruptions, but they still impact your ability to be effective at work, this free webinar is for you.