Interview with Sheila Hawkins

Sheila HawkinsWhat projects are you involved in?

Currently I have an ongoing project with a communications company in Florida for which I provide project management services; ongoing project management services for a social justice group based in New York and a local non-profit that I’ve created a standard operating procedure manual for and am currently revamping their filing system. I also have productivity programs and events that I’m working for the final quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. They’re focused on planning and turning dreams or resolutions into goals and bringing them to fruition.

How did you get interested in productivity?

Productivity is something that has always been a part of who I am personality wise and for a long time I didn’t understand that not everyone was wired like I am. I came to that realization as a young adult in the corporate arena. Being wired that way was always an asset in every position that I held during my work life. There came a point when the company I was working for closed its doors and I wanted to start another entrepreneurial endeavor. A friend suggested that I do what I had always done and I had no clue what she meant by that. From her point of view I had always organized things and people, keeping them together and moving forward. I did some research and discovered my industry. Knowing that I had the capability to do many things under that umbrella, I chose a few areas and offered my services and through the process discovered that my true passion lies in helping people set themselves up for optimal productivity. For me that translated into identifying tools, creating systems and organizing spaces that are set up to increase productivity, and helping people understand and rid themselves of clutter and procrastination.

How many meetings do you normally have each week?

On average I have 3-4 meetings per week.

What are some of your favorite productivity tips/apps?

I love Evernote and Dropbox. Wunderlist is something I recommend to clients who are looking for a to-do list outside of what they might have on their electronic device. I like Basecamp for project management team communication and of course Doodle for scheduling group meetings!

What’s the most recent adjustment that you’ve made to your personal productivity routine?

The most recent adjustment that I’ve made to my personal productivity routine is adding even more “me time”. This has always been a challenge for me and something I make sure to keep in my schedule. Understanding that you have to have down time on a regular basis and that it actually fuels you forward is one thing; actually adding that time into your calendar is another. About 6 years ago I flipped the way that I plan my year by adding my personal time, days off, long weekends and vacations to my calendar first, (holidays don’t count) and then adding work plans to the mix after those dates are set. It makes a big difference and the down time really does give me the boosts that I need on a regular basis to keep forging forward.

Do you measure your productivity? If so, how do you do it, and what is your metric?

Yes, I do measure my productivity. I think that when one measures productivity you have to look at efficiency as well as effectiveness because they both play into overall productivity. You really can’t measure productivity without looking at both. On a weekly basis I look at the number of objectives I actually accomplish in that time period and weigh them against the number of objectives I set out to accomplish in the given week. That tells me how efficient I’ve been. So, for instance if I have four objectives to complete over the course of a week and I complete three, then that would put my level of efficiency at 75% for that week. I also measure over longer periods of time as well so that I get a good view of the big picture. Doing so tells me whether or not I may need to add or replace particular tools or revamp processes or an entire system.

Realizing that effectiveness is more goal specific and tells you how you’re doing in relation to accomplishing a goal or your overall growth and success, I measure effectiveness on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. At those particular times I look at the results that my efforts have produced and the overall impact and measure those results against the actual goal to determine how effective I’ve been over that particular period of time. The results tell me if I need to extend the time frame for a particular goal, whether I need additional resources or if perhaps I missed something in my process and gives me the opportunity to tighten things up if necessary.

What do you think the next productivity trend will be?

Given that everyone seems to be swamped these days I think the new trends in productivity will be geared toward providing some relief. Since people are inundated, works days and the time they spend getting things done have been extended. I think we’ll see more apps that cover all devices (desktops, laptops, smart phones, tablets) and companies seeking to have more of a mobile presence to address their need to be accessible to their target market whenever their market needs to have access. I think that some coming tools will be cloud based to give “productivity on demand” and that they will also have better design since users tend to equate design with the ability of the software. I also believe that advances in technology will bring us more goodies like Google Glass that will allow people to get things done much faster, supporting taking less time to do particular tasks.

You can learn more about Sheila Hawkins through her website, and be sure to follow her on Twitter, too.


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