The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic revealed a lot about what counts as an essential skill. So many workers, including people pretty high up, previously secure in their roles suddenly found themselves without jobs as more companies looked for ways to cut costs in an attempt to survive lockdown. If you are one of those who still has a job, congratulations. Others have not been as lucky.
In a world where knowledge is being generated at an outstanding rate, having the skills necessary to keep up with it is no longer the responsibility of HR departments. More and more organisations are assuming employees come equipped with certain skills and don’t bother organising training sessions on those skills. Yet how true is their assumption?
At some point during the past three months, you have probably attended a lot more online meetings than you normally would. If you are anything like me, you probably wondered why some of those meetings took place or why you were invited in the first place? COVID-19 has changed the way we work. More teams are staying in touch using digital technology. Zoom, the video conferencing app saw its shares increase in value as more people signed up to take part in online meetings.
It is understandable that as we continue to work from home, we will have to attend more online meetings. What many people don’t seem to realise, however, is that an online meeting is similar to a physical meeting in one crucial way: there is no guarantee that the meeting will be productive. A lot of people send out invites to online meetings because they confuse busyness with productive. Their supervisor is no longer breathing over their shoulder so they fear being thought of as slackers if they didn’t convene a meeting every few days.
Where is your phone? In your pocket? A handbag? On a table in front of you? Or in your hand reading this article? Another question: How many phones do you have?
A lot of Nigerians have more than one phone. The logic seems to be use your smartphone for social media and have a dumb phone for use as a backup. Wherever you go today, you are likely to see someone happily pressing away at their phone’s screen. It’s no longer uncommon to see two people on a “date” busy typing away at their phones, completely ignoring each other.
I have been asked a few times whether I think paying for a productivity app is worth it. All the personal productivity apps I have used have been free and I am still yet to pay money for any productivity app. I know people who use a notebook and pen for all their planning. Some of them are the most productive people I have ever known.
Emails are making life difficult for many people. If you don’t have a system in place for managing your email inbox, you will soon find yourself responding to other people’s emergencies all the time instead of focusing on your important tasks. To prevent email taking over your life, here are a few principles:
Mornings are not for checking emails
You have no idea what you will find in your inbox. If you start your day, by checking email, you are likely to find the five minutes you had hoped to spend magically became one hour. It’s hard to resist the temptation to reply an email even though some part of us probably knows the reply can wait. If it’s an emergency, you will probably get a phone call instead of an email. Use your morning hours to work on tasks that require deep focus.
In the early days of the internet, email was all the rave. Suddenly, you could send a long message to someone across the world and they would receive it in seconds. You didn’t have to post a letter that would take weeks to deliver. Eventually, email was replaced by Instant Messaging and social networks as the preferred means of instant communication. However, email continues to be used for official communication.
Email has become a productivity death trap for many. It’s easy for anyone to send you an email or copy you in one. Unfortunately, very few people get paid to read and process emails. Unless you are a personal assistant to an Executive or work in Customer-care, you probably don’t fall into this category.
Technology is supposed to make life easier. You are able to read this article on your device thanks to technology. I have a list of favourite productivity apps that wouldn’t exist today without advances in technology. Used properly, technology can be your best friend as you work towards achieving a more productive life.
Technology, however, is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have apps and resources that can help with your productivity. On the other hand, you have social media and addictive games that are productivity traps.