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6 Productivity Hacks for Training Managers

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Is there anyone who wouldn’t like to be more productive?

Unlikely, but there are also as many reasons for procrastination as there are items on your to-do list. Maybe you’ve got too much to do and are overwhelmed, maybe you don’t manage your time effectively, maybe you’re terrified of failure, or maybe you’re just being lazy.

Whatever the reason, the more time you waste trying to get stuff done, the less time you have later, when you should be relaxing, or working on big, important projects, such as updating your learning management system or ensuring your team’s certifications are up to date.

By hacking your training schedule, you can make yourself more productive, so you don’t have to stall and stress. Find out how below!

What do I mean by “productivity hack”?

Computer hacking, a terrifying menace at the beginning of personal computing, took very little time to start seeming cool and edgy.

But computer hacking, like any programming, is not that easy.

So people found other, easier things to hack. And before we knew it, every neat trick or out-of-the-box approach to a problem was deemed a “hack.”

So when I say I’m offering productivity hacks, what I really mean to say is: I have a list of cool tips and tricks that might just help make you more productive (but “hacking” sounds a lot cooler).

6 productivity hacks that will make you a better training manager

1. Learn a new way to list

My busy, busy schedule

As you can probably tell by the way I formatted this article, I love lists. I have tons of them, on Post-it notes, in my email, in my outlines, on my arms … lists work for me.

But a simple to-do list is just the beginning. You can put your productivity into hyperdrive by finding the listing method that works for you.

I’ll present these options, appropriately, as a list:

  • Bullet journals. A method receiving well-deserved buzz, bullet journals are part to-do list, part planner
  • Kanban boards. A movable, modular way to express what you need to get done
  • An Eisenhower matrix. If you could sort all of your to-dos into a grid that will help you see what needs to be done when, why wouldn’t you?
  • The 1-3-5 rule. A method of breaking down your work to determine the size and importance of tasks

There are lots more ways to make lists, but those four are my preferred methods. Give them a try; it might change your whole approach.

2. Work in intervals

I jog basically just like this

I started running recently. I hate it, but that’s what dating a triathlete will do to a person, I guess.

The worst part is the intervals—the times when you break up your steady pace for a burst of extreme speed that lasts several seconds. It’s no fun, but it’s really shown me some results.

You can work in intervals, too. This method works best for early drafts of large projects, for example, when you’ve just got to get all your lesson material out of your head and onto a page. This is not the time for precision work.

To use this hack, set a timer for five minutes. When the timer starts, spend those five minutes going hard as you can.

While your goal is to get as much done as quickly as possible, that’s not something you can measure. Work toward an achievable benchmark, such as a certain number of words typed per minute, or a number of paragraphs that must be on the page before you can stop. Ignore typos, ignore errors; you can fix those later. Focus on total productivity.

It probably won’t be fun, but much like running intervals, it will be effective. Complete a ten-minute standard pace, five-minute speed up cycle until the draft is complete. Then you can take a real, nonworking break

3. Alter your workspace

Clear your desk! Though perhaps with more finesse

Changing your space can mean one of two things:

1. The first approach is to make some changes to your existing work area. Are you the sort of person who never cleans unless it’s to put off other tasks? Then this one is for you.

If your desk is a mess and your drawers are cluttered, take an hour or two for a complete overhaul. Archive old, full notebooks, toss out trade magazines you’ve already read, replace coffee-stained file folders with new ones.

If you’re like me and you’ve accumulated so many Post-it notes that you’ve forgotten what they mean, toss them. If something can go digital, it should; make a stack of documents to scan.

Once your space is organized, keep it that way. Get a drawer organizer and a label maker, (or at least a Sharpie). The extra 15 seconds it takes to put an item away will save you from doing another long overhaul later.

2. The second approach is to physically move yourself to a different work area. If you often catch yourself goofing off at your desk or staring off into space, move. Go to a coffee shop or an unused meeting room without the normal distractions.

In this approach, you are training your brain to know that the new space is for work only. I adapted this advice from something I read about sleeping better: Don’t let your bedroom be a hangout space, a work space, or somewhere you go to watch TV. Make your bed a space for sleep only, and you’ll train your brain to be sleepy once you’re in your room for the night.

I tried working at a local coffee shop to see if I could stay more on task, and, not only did it work, I actually doubled my word count output.

This means no Facebook, no phones, no nothing. If you want any of that, you have to leave the space. You’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish.

4. Ditch your usual email routine

I feel like this daily

I bet the first thing you do when you boot up your computer for the day is go right to your inbox. Then, you likely spend anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or two sorting, reading, replying, archiving, and deleting, with the creeping sensation that new messages are flooding in every second.

This is a huge time suck. About four hours of every single day, according to The Washington Post.

You can improve your productivity by simply … not doing this.

Sounds overly simplified, I know. But try this: Instead of checking your email first thing and keeping it open in a tab or enabling notifications, save it for after you’ve completed your biggest to-do of the day. That might mean designing a lesson or editing some content, but, whatever it is, knock out your your No. 1 task before checking your email.

5. Make your downtime work for you

Nothing says “comfy” like business formal

The human brain is not wired to be good at large stretches of endless work. We perform better when we take small, frequent breaks. However, sometimes it can feel as though you simply have too much to do, and frequent small breaks don’t seem helpful or even possible.

So don’t just take breaks; make them productive breaks. Make a list of everything you have to do for the day, no matter how small. Then, sort those tasks by how much time they’ll take—whether it’s a few seconds or several hours.

Start working on the tasks that require the most time, and any time you feel yourself in need of a break, do one of your short tasks. Your brain will get the chance to switch it up, you won’t lose any work time, and you’ll get more done than ever before.

6. Just say no

Ok, Mr. Colbert!

If you find yourself constantly putting off tasks and always feeling stressed out, maybe you have too much to do. In the interest of improving your productivity—and the quality of your work and your own mental health—try turning down the next voluntary project you are presented with.

I’m not saying you should hit the brakes on a major career advancement opportunity. But that additional filing task? The clients that need contacted? The menial, minor little chores that someone else in the office could just as easily manage themselves? It’s OK to turn those down or delegate them to someone else, especially if you’re already swamped.

Sometimes you have to just say no.

What are your favorite productivity hacks?

If you’ve got a productivity hack that blows all of these out of the water, please tell me about it in a comment below or tweet me @CapterraHalden.

Check out the articles below for more tips on being the best you can be at your job:

Looking for Training software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Training software solutions.

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About the Author

Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen writes about HR and eLearning at Capterra. She’s a graduate of Agnes Scott College and a TEDx presenter. You can follow her on Twitter @CapterraHalden, just don’t get her started about her zombie survival plan.

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