Life as a food safety professional in today’s food industry is as tough as it has ever been. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the demands on your team are constantly increasing, yet resources are constantly declining. Here are four easy tips that just might help…
Having spent most of my early career in food manufacturing, I now spend all of my time helping food safety teams use technology to reduce the hassles of doing a demanding job whilst driving step change improvement in food safety and brand protection. But my own job seems to keep increasing in complexity as our business grows quickly so finding better ways to be productive with my time is a constant challenge.
In this post I will share with you some of the techniques I have picked up that I find particularly useful, hopefully some of them may benefit you. We all want to get more done, but the same solution doesn’t work for everyone. Figuring out how to schedule your day to help you maximise your output is the first step toward being more productive.
Here are my best 4 tips that may help you sail through your small and big projects this week:
1: Have a NO-MEETINGS Day
Block off an entire day (or a half day) every week for no meetings. This works particularly well if you can get your entire company or even just your team on board.
Having a full day free from meetings allows both managers and non-managers to get into their flow and tackle the big projects that often get interrupted other days of the week. Once you implement a no-meetings day, you’ll find that it will become your most productive day of the week, and will reduce your stress level on other days when you can’t find a block of time to focus on your work.
Extra Tip: From personal experience Saturday and Sunday don’t count. I often leave it to the weekend to catch up on outstanding emails and tasks in an uninterrupted way. This is unfair on family and work colleagues on the receiving end of emails at the weekend.
2: Block out the right time for big projects
Spend a few days taking stock of your current schedule, or lack thereof. When do you have the most energy? When are you least productive? Then, plan to work on smaller tasks and those that require less brainpower and concentration at times when you tend to be less inspired.
Block off larger chunks of time on your calendar when you’re most ‘on’ for your bigger tasks such as completing vulnerability assessments. I usually find mornings between nine and eleven are my most switched on times for churning through stuff.
A lot of procrastination is a result of poor scheduling: trying to tackle energy-consuming big projects at times when you’re most in need of a break, or not quite ready to concentrate. Being aware of which times are best for you to get work done, and planning around it, can make a big difference.
3: Try the ‘Pomodero’ Technique
No, you don’t need to be flexible… The Pomodoro Technique advocates breaking big projects or tasks into smaller, more achievable tasks distributed throughout the course of your day and separated by frequent breaks.
Each task should take no longer than 25 minutes and breaks should be approximately 5 to 30 minutes (depending on how long you need to recharge before the next task). The technique’s name comes from a tomato kitchen timer, used to time 25 minute increments.
If you want a more modern solution, there are many timers available online.The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that optimizes for creative recharging, so you’ll have less mental fatigue and can move faster through projects.
It’s actually a business version of ‘Fartlek Training’ for sportsmen, where they do 20 minutes at top speed, followed by 20 minutes at a slow recharging jog, then another 20 minutes at full speed. Its a German efficiency model that builds endurance, and concentration.
As a food safety person in a food factory you might use this technique to switch off email and your mobile, stick your head down for 25 minutes and clear some stuff on your ‘to-do’ list. Then get up, walk away from your desk or head down the factory to check up on QA Checks, customer complaints corrective actions, do something else.
Then come back and get another 25 minutes head down. A strong barricade at your office door or electric fence around your desk might help….
4: Block out time to plan your day
Schedule 30 minutes to an hour on your calendar at the beginning or end of each day and use this time to organise your day and respond to teammates in your Inbox.
Reactive days during which you’re constantly responding to messages, getting distracted by the latest new task, or spending time figuring out what to do next, wastes a lot of time and drains your energy.
Getting through housecleaning before you even start your day will save time and conserve your energy for more mindful work later. If you are out and about doing supplier audits, bring some low level admin tasks that can be done while you are waiting for the train or flight.
Even implementing just one of the above techniques should give you some productivity improvements, implementing all of them will turn you into a productivity superstar!
Let me know if you have any other great ways that we can increase our productivity.