There are tons of tools out there to assist with productivity, and yes, they can really help. But ultimately, it comes down to you and your desire to be productive.
After 9 years in the Salesforce Ecosystem, and tons of insights from Salesforce experts, I’m going to share with you 5 of my favourite hacks for being as productive as possible whilst having fun along the way!
1. It’s all in the prep
Do you have a to do list? How far ahead do you plan? Do you know when you’re the most productive?
If you answer no to all of the above, get a notepad, dedicated document on your laptop, or invest in some software to start planning ahead and ask yourself the question: when am I most productive?
Before I had a to do list, I had no idea how I knew what was going on! Not only do you get your dopamine hit by ticking something off after completing it, but it can really help you to get more done. By planning what you will be doing in advance, you are setting yourself up for success and you will be able to thank your past self for being so organised.
With good preparation, you can look at big picture items and see how they fit alongside your day-to-day items. Then you can assess if what you want to get done in a week is actually achievable. It’s such a handy tool for a 1-1 as well and helps your manager to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed.
Insights from the experts
Lauren Metcalf, Content & Marketing Coordinator, Salesforce Ben
“Give yourself credit for small wins. Break tasks up so you are giving yourself lots of small ticks instead of waiting for that one big one. I add things to my list that weren’t on there to start with but needed to be done and I’ve completed. It helps me look back at the end of the day with a sense of achievement.”
Paul Harris, Principal Consultant, Coacto
“Plan your day the day before. Do the difficult tasks first. Do it, schedule it, delegate it or bin it.”
Elisa Edmondson, Business Systems Analyst, AMAROK
“I make detailed notes on each project so I can jump back in without reinventing the wheel.”
Will Shinton, Director of Operations, Purus
“Make a list, order it by priority, execute!”
Stuart Manning, Apprentice/Consultant, Coacto
“Break tasks into smaller pieces to make them more manageable which stops you feeling overwhelmed, and ensures critical tasks are completed on time. Set realistic goals that are achievable and ensure you reward yourself when tasks or projects are successful. Working as a team and being a team player helps you achieve goals. Finally, take breaks to help prevent burnout and increase productivity.”
2. Give yourself space to focus
Setting yourself aside some distraction free time to knuckle down on a task / project is a great way to get a big chunk of work done. You’ll feel productive, motivated, and a great sense of achievement!
This can be achieved with focus blocks. The most important part of these focus blocks is that all distractions are truly gone! Yup, that even means leaving your phone on the other side of the room. The biggest game changer for me has been blocking out my calendar, setting myself on ‘do not disturb’ mode, and enjoying getting into the zone. It’s actually amazing how much you can do in 25 mins with no distractions! Sometimes I’ll set myself 50 mins of time to get a decent chunk of work done and its only taken me 20 mins because I am truly in a state of flow.
Whilst there are tons of different tools and techniques you can use related to focus blocks, once you’ve found what works for you, make sure you are aware of the time of day you are most productive to set aside for these focus blocks. For me, it’s earlier in the morning, but this will be different person to person!
Insights from the experts
Mike Davis, CRO, Invisory
“Embrace the reality that 5-6 hours of focused, 100% dedicated work time is more productive than 8-9 hours of in and out focus. Follow your own productivity timeline of the day and adapt your schedule to meet your needs.”
Jonny Wilson, Software Architect, ProvenWorks “Being able to get my head down, no interruptions or meetings and just get into the flow of the code.”
Eric Dreshfield, Independent Consultant
“Set aside specific blocks of time on your calendar every day to work on specific projects (outside of meeting times) and don’t let anything get in the way of this dedicated time.”
Jon Oliver, Commercial Manager, NC Squared
“Allocating tasks not just by priority, but by the type of attention they need. Some tasks are labourious, but don’t need too much focus so may work best in ‘down’ time; others are interesting but need lots of attention so perhaps best at the start or end of the day just after caffeine!”
David Massey, Founder, Get Force Certified
“Time blocking – Although a really simple concept, I’ve found that time blocking my calendar allows me to stay focused and avoid distractions, it allows me to maximise my working hours so when I finish, I can spend time with my family without feeling guilty for not accomplishing enough. I’ve tweaked how I do it over a number of years, and I think I’ve got to the stage where it’s really effective for me.”
3. Establish your priorities
When speaking to a whole range of people both inside and outside the Salesforce ecosystem, priorities came up the most. You can be the most productive person in the world but if your priorities don’t align with your team or organisation, you might not actually feel like you’re getting anywhere.
Take a step back and look at what your goals are for the quarter ahead, the month ahead, the week ahead and THEN you can look to see what is important daily.
Insights from the experts
Tamsin Foster, Salesforce Administrator, Service Express
“I write a note to myself for tomorrow, saying what to prioritise.”
JP Legget, Founder and CEO, Squivr
“If it is on the calendar it gets priority – in my role the jobs are never done and I wear many hats. Using my time wisely means effectively setting aside time to support each arm of the business.”
Chris Taylor, Principal Consultant, Nebula Consulting
“I organise and prioritise work items. I keep my inbox at zero by snoozing items with a low priority, creating tasks to book things into a time slot that works for me and unsubscribing from stuff I don’t need cluttering my inbox.”
Lucy Mazalon, Operations Director, Salesforce Ben
“One post-it note for priorities (my rule is I can’t add more than five at a time).”
4. Be kind to yourself and be vulnerable
I really want to hammer home the point that to help others, you have to help yourself first. You’re never going to be efficient, productive, or happy at work if you’re struggling. Reach out to colleagues if you need help. In the long run, who knows, they might be the one to reach out to you when they need help!
A little note / nudge for managers here about showing your vulnerable side. For years I thought you had to be superhuman to be a manager, never having an off day. But we all get them! Share your failures and struggles with your team, they will realise you too are human! Plus, perfectionism is scary and not many people want to work with perfectionists. Open up to your team, share your struggles along the way, and you will succeed even better together.
Insights from the experts
Ruth Cawdron, Marketing Manager, ProvenWorks
“I’m learning that you don’t have separate energy tanks for work and life, and so I find it helpful to plan ahead how I’ll be kind to myself. Busy weekend? Schedule in some easy administrative work to start your Monday off. Huge work event? Try to block out the next day for follow up. Being kind to your future self is what nurtures a long-term sustainable approach to productivity.”
Ben McCarthy, Managing Director, Salesforce Ben
“I suppose a few things…ensure I use a to-do list to work through, block out time on my calendar to work through specific items, try and minimize unnecessary meetings, ensure I go for a walk in the morning to kick start my brain and body!”
Kuldip Hilyer, Founder and CEO, Kugamon
“Strive to be in the zone, and if you are not, do something, such as go for a drive and get coffee, run an errand. Then get back in the zone. This only works if you enjoy what you do. Otherwise change your job. You are a productivity guru if you enjoy your work. No tool can really help. Tools are only band aid.”
Charlene Johnson, Senior Salesforce Administrator, University of York
“Take your lunchtime away from your desk – go for a walk.”
5. Consider your workspace
Have you ever gone to cook dinner in a messy kitchen? You’ll know that when everything is fresh and tidy, not only will you be more motivated, you’ll find yourself enjoying your work more too!
Do you need to change up your workspace every so often? Every Wednesday morning I make an effort to go and work elsewhere (I work from home 95% of the time) and I’m amazed at how different my mindset is when I change scenery. Often it’s either on a Wednesday morning or when I’m walking my dog that I get some of my lightbulb moments!
Want to know how others in the Salesforce Ecosystem are productive!?
Read some more advice from other people across the Salesforce ecosystem; you’ll start to see some common themes!
Sarah Kelleher, Customer Success Director, Nebula Consulting
“Keeping my inbox tidy is my secret weapon. My unreads act as my to-do list which means I can keep a good eye on what I’ve got on at the moment and prioritise effectively. I know it’s divisive, but it works for me!”
Aaron Poulton, Head of Business Development, Ortoo
“Get uncomfortable! Too often we do the work we like or find easy as opposed to the work that will make a real difference.”
Megan Sadler, Partner Marketing and Alliances Manager, Traction Complete
“I get a lot of satisfaction from crossing things off a list, so getting to do so definitely helps drive me. I like to break up projects into smaller tasks so I can celebrate the smaller victories as well as the large ones.”
Jessie Shedden, Customer Renewals Executive, ProvenWorks
“RADICALLY reducing clutter. My inboxes consistently have less than 10 items (rough figure), my electronic folders are kept clean and fresh too. My singular desire is to do things in the quickest and easiest way with the greatest amount of impact.”
Leon Crisp, Founder and CEO, Ortoo
“Focus, ruthless prioritisation, maximise energy health and mood. Tools – get a good set of tools, learn to use them well, and use the right tools for each job.”
Laura Truman, Marketing Executive, Native Video
“Time manage, set time to tasks (i.e. task x to do at 3pm), and don’t stress about things until they come around. You know that you’ll resolve the problem / task when it arrives.”
Rachel Dance, Business Development Manager, Improved Apps
“Have a list of what needs to be done… Prioritise 3! Collaboration, I find working closely with others promotes creative thinking and encourages problem solving and innovation, but be strict on time and focused on the task in hand. Avoid distractions if you need to focus. Ignore slack and email and get your head down, use ‘do not disturb’. I’m always more productive if there is a time pressure!”
Callum Hurry, Director of Product Engineering, ProvenWorks
“Break tasks down into more manageable pieces of work and don’t be so strict on yourself if it doesn’t get done when you initially planned it to.”