5 Ways to Reclaim Your Day: Productivity Tips from HR Experts

Are your days filled to the brim with meetings, conference calls, and a flood of emails? I have often found myself heads down working away only to realize it’s late afternoon and I haven’t gotten up or even moved. When the work day slips by without any mental or physical break, I can see the impact on my productivity level and happiness. As these busy days add up, so too do the negative consequences that result.  Not only is overall health impacted but the ability to think strategically diminishes dramatically.

Our @ServiceNow Twitter poll revealed that 64% of people feel that productivity in their office is mediocre or poor. What are the productivity-killer culprits? The poll uncovered that people feel pointless meetings and endless emails are holding us back from focusing on the work we’re truly passionate about.


So, how do we minimize or eliminate the productivity drains and reclaim our day?  I have reached out to some colleagues to get their tips.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-9-55-56-amJim Scully
HR Shared Services Institute

Do It Right the First Time 

“Do it right the first time” is an old cliche’, but maybe the best way to take back your day is to take the time right now to do whatever you’re doing right.

When we fail to do something completely or correctly, chances are it’s going to come back to bite you or others later. It can be something fairly big, like making a system configuration error that causes tons of downstream issues or rework, or something small, like failing to save a document to its designated folder, causing you spend unnecessary time later searching for it, or worse recreating it. Each of us is a little factory. With a little creative translation, the same LEAN principles that eliminate massive waste in a production environment can be used to eliminate waste in our daily lives.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-9-57-38-amWilliam Tincup

Manage Your Time Religiously and Ruthlessly

People around you (friends, family, coworkers, etc) will waste your time if you allow them. So, don’t. Discern quickly “is this my problem, my emergency” or “your problem, your emergency” what most people call YP/MP. Focus mainly on your stuff. I know, I know, sounds a bit self-centered. You can always dedicate some time to other folks once you’re up-to-date, desire a change of pace or need a distraction. But, develop the ability to sniff out where other folks are using you to develop their own thoughts. Turns out, you get nothing out of that. Other time management tricks:

  1. Only open email twice a day
  2. Only interact with social media when you have dead time (standing in line, in an Uber/ taxi, using the restroom, etc.)
  3. Hold standing meetings (shortens the meetings by 75%)
  4. The classic “no electronics” meetings

Brainstorming meetings are normally a waste of time, not because of intent, but because of the lack of preparation. Most people can’t impromptu great ideas. They need to think about it beforehand, reflect afterward, etc. So great ideas can come from the activity, just not in the way we think they do. So, don’t accept a brainstorming meeting unless it is properly created and managed. Those meetings suck the time out of your calendar each and every week. It’s your time after all.”

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-9-58-51-amSharlyn Lauby  

Control Your Calendar

For me, I found the best way to “claim” or “reclaim” my day was to control my calendar. Use the calendar method that works for you – it might be paper or online. Color code entries if you need to. If you like fun stickers, use them. Schedule “me” time to make sure that you have time for dedicated thinking, your pet projects, and wellness.

Once you have discovered the perfect method for keeping track of your time, use it! Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day to review plans. If you don’t like the way it looks, change it. Don’t feel you have to wait until the new year. Your calendar is for you. It’s to help you be productive. Put some dedicated time into finding the calendar tool that will help you be your best.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-9-59-41-amMary Kaylor

Ask Yourself This Every Day

We will never be able to escape pointless meetings, endless emails and other time sucks that are a fact of life in the workplace. To reclaim your day amidst your top priorities and deadlines, I think it’s important to ask yourself “Where and how can I provide the most value today for my employer, colleagues and customers?” 

Jen Stroud Marketing Image 035[2]Jen Stroud
Service Matters Blog

Make Room for Mental Breaks

My piece of advice for how to #ReclaimYourDay (and maybe even a little bit of sanity) is to schedule several breaks in your day – and keep those commitments.  You don’t need to do anything dramatic or extensive during these breaks.  I take six 5-10 minute mini breaks a day when I will walk, meditate, do a few basic chair exercises, read a chapter in a novel, listen to a podcast or audiobook, call a friend, or color – yes I have a coloring book!  Do whatever you need to do to clear your mind and recharge your battery. I do also suggest that at least every other mini break incorporates some physical movement.  If you will make this commitment to yourself, I promise that you will reap the rewards in terms of wellbeing, increased productivity and yes, a little more sanity!

Making these small changes in our everyday lives can make a big improvement in our individual productivity and happiness. But, what can our employers do to enable company-wide change?

Organizations around the globe are turning to service management to refine, structure and automate the flow of work across departments. By modernizing the office, enabling collaboration, and automating business services, professionals are relinquished of productivity-draining and soul-sucking activities like answering and triaging emails, manual data entry, or responding to repetitive phone requests. In fact, service management has reduced the time employee’s spend on manual tasks from 70% to just 20%.

When that time is reclaimed, we can devote our attention to what truly matters. I recently shared why I chose the HR profession in the first place and (spoiler alert) it wasn’t to shuffle paperwork. 34% of Twitter respondents said that “making a difference” is what they love most about their job.


Now that you are armed with new tips and tools to reclaim your day from mundane administrative tasks, rediscover the spark and passion for your career, and unleash innovation, I can’t wait to see what you accomplish.
How do you reclaim your day? Add your productivity tips, share a story about how ServiceNow has evolved your workplace, or tell us what you would do with more time in the comments or by joining the conversation with the hashtag #ReclaimYourDay.

Jen Stroud
Jen Stroud is passionate about inspiring HR leaders to transform the employee experience and how work gets done in HR. She comes to ServiceNow from TeleTech where she spent the past 10 years in HR and most recently was the Executive Director of Human Capital Services. In this role, Jen led an enterprise HR transformation initiative, transitioning the company from a decentralized HR support model to a Shared Services operating model.

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