At Extra Space Storage, we challenge our people to “Be the Best” and “Be Balanced.” But being the best while staying balanced can be a challenge, especially when our workdays are long and full of distractions. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for making workdays more productive, some of our employees have excellent tips and techniques for staying on task and making the most out of their time spent at work!
Sharing their productivity tips and techniques are:
- Bonnie Sweeney, District Manager
- Brooke Stencil, Senior Director of Digital Marketing
- David Wiehe, Senior Manager of Accounting
- Iveth Rubio, District Manager
- Jordan Jensen, Recruiter
- Kacey Kalian, Senior Director of Risk Management & Analysis
- Karla Lopez Galvez, Store Manager
- Katie Dodds, Director Revenue Systems & Analytics
- Ronda Knudsen, Store Manager
Plan Ahead to Set Your Week Up for Success
Sweeney: I plan for the upcoming week on Friday, so my mind is free to enjoy the weekend. Having the major planning already done for the week helps me stay on track as soon as I start working on Monday. Then, I utilize my calendar to fill out what I want to accomplish each day. If I start my week without planning the most important tasks, I find myself wondering “Where did my day go?” and realize I completed a lot of low-priority tasks that took time away from what I needed to accomplish.
Galvez: On Mondays, I put my favorite music on while I drive to work. That raises my endorphins and brightens up my mood. Once I’m at my store, I walk through and make detailed notes on all areas of the facility and what needs to be done, then I schedule the week accordingly. Everyone should treat the beginning of their week as a new painting—you have a blank canvas and can accomplish anything on it.
Knudsen: I enjoy getting in on a Monday, walking through the property after being away, and creating my weekly to-do list. Before I head out at the end of the week, I look back at the Monday list. This helps me see all that we accomplished as a team and celebrate the week.
Jensen: I make a physical list of all the tasks I have to do during the week that might cause anxiety. Then, I can focus on getting everything done and enjoy the weekend without the dread of the “Sunday Scaries.”
Rubio: A tip I received early on in my District Manager career was staying faithful to my office day on Mondays. This way, I plan out my week, look at the stores that may need more attention than others, and make changes to my schedule as needed. It’s all about managing expectations for the week.
Stencil: I’m old-fashioned! I rely on my notebook and writing to-do lists. Especially when I start to feel overwhelmed with all I need to do, I take a few minutes and rewrite my list to help me stay organized and on task.
Start Your Day with Exercise
Kalian: I’ve found that I’m always more productive when I start my morning off with exercise. It allows me to reduce any lingering anxiety and start the day off feeling great. I try to get at least 60 minutes every morning, but even if I only have time for 30 minutes, it sets a good tone for my upcoming day.
Wiehe: I look at my calendar for the full week on Monday while I’m on my spin bike in the early morning. I can get in a workout and get the ball rolling on meetings and tasks that require some forethought.
Laugh with Teammates & Take Time to Step Away
Kalian: If I’m ever frustrated or having a difficult day, I know I will be more productive if I take ten minutes to step away, destress, and then return to my desk. I take a walk, rock out to some loud music, eat a snack, or do a quick workout.
Dodds: When working from home became common last year, our team started doing a daily 15-minute check-in to discuss fun topics unrelated to work. We would pose a fun question like “What is a goal you’ve always wanted to accomplish but haven’t so far?” Or our most controversial: “What is your favorite cookie?” We still do this three days a week and usually get a good laugh out of it!
Stencil: I try to carve out time to take a break and have some laughs with coworkers, as we would in the office. It’s important to catch up on what’s happening outside of work, share funny stories, and intensely debate who we think will win The Bachelor.
Wiehe: I visit with others in the office. I make sure to connect with my team about work and non-work-related items.
Rubio: While visiting different facilities, I like to have fun with our Store Managers. I get to know them and discuss their lives, the site, and anything they might need from me. I want our time to be productive but also fun and enjoyable.
Choose to Have a Positive Attitude
Sweeney: Mindset is everything. You can decide to have a good day or choose to have a bad day, but you are making that decision. Mistakes will be made, problems will arise, but it’s easy to stay positive when you are focused on what is within your control. I also like to surround myself with positive people who are optimistic and enjoy solving problems more than just talking about them.
Galvez: Start with a positive attitude every day. Remember that there is always a solution for any problem. I also remember to smile even if I’m wearing masks. Having a smile makes me feel better and gives me a positive outlook.
Kalian: Don’t be afraid to block meeting time for yourself and set your work status to Do Not Disturb on internal messaging platforms. Suppose I’m having a hard time focusing or working on a complicated spreadsheet that needs my absolute attention. In that case, I also turn off all notifications, put on some noise-canceling headphones, and dive into my work.
Sweeney: I know I haven’t set myself up for success if I have planned out my entire day without wiggle room. If I leave 25-50% of my day open for incoming calls, emails, and other needs, I can usually accomplish most or all of what’s on my list without working late or making coworkers feel like I don’t have time for them. I try to block out a time in the morning, mid-day, and end-of-day to return calls and emails. That gives me time in between that I can devote to other work that needs to get done. If I have a big project or due date looming, I let my team know and temporarily put someone else in charge of non-emergency questions or requests.
Knudsen: I remind myself to work with a sense of urgency. When distractions come up, that helps me remember to get back to the task at hand.
Stencil: With all that’s happening in the world, distractions are bound to happen. Finding pockets of time throughout the day to pause and take a few minutes—read the news or take a walk—helps to recenter and recharge.
Wiehe: When a distraction comes up, I try to identify if I can help minimize the issue. If not, I try to shut it out and stay focused.
Galvez: As Store Managers, our days are full. We take care of customers, get the facility ready for them, and many other daily tasks. I make it a habit to finish one job at a time. When a distraction comes up, I make a quick note to remember where I left off when I come back to it. Then, I can handle the issue and come back to what I was doing before without losing focus.
Create a Work-Life Balance
Knudsen: Work when at work and cherish time with family and friends when not at work. If I get to the point that I need a personal day, I get with my leader and ask for it! We all need an extra break from work sometimes.
Dodds: I set a goal to do one fun thing every day after work. It might be a bike ride, dinner with friends, or an arts and crafts night at home. This ensures that my only accomplishment for the day isn’t just going to work or doing chores.
Sweeney: I’ve learned that being the first to arrive at work and the last to leave does not make you the best employee. When I devote time to exercise, spend time with family, and relax, I feel happier and bring that feeling to work. For the workday, giving myself a hard stop at 6:00 p.m. makes me focused on efficiency and getting the job done. No one ever wished they would have spent more of their life working—get in, get the job done right, and go live life!
Rubio: Let your team and family hold you accountable to a work-life balance. My team is great at calling me out when I should be off work. And when I’m with family, they also call me out if I’m on my phone or computer working. It also helps to plan out my entire month and each week so I don’t fall behind and have to take work home. It does happen on occasion, but not regularly.
Set Goals & Write them Down
Stencil: Write down your goals! And not just the goal, but the why behind the goal. I have a much higher likelihood of achieving my goals if I write them down and have them somewhere visible. Thinking about why the goal is important and writing that down also serves as a motivator when it is hard to stay on track.
Sweeney: Goals are so important! If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s awfully hard to get there. Small goals are great, and it feels good to meet them even if they are easy. Bigger goals might take more planning, so writing them down will help you start taking steps to achieve them. I like to use goal trackers so I have a physical view of my progress, and I’m accountable for staying on track. Falling off the wagon doesn’t mean stop trying; every day is a new chance to be the person you want to be.
Wiehe: I start by identifying what the most important things are that I care about. Then, I consider what is important for my team and my leadership, and join all of that together. When I’m stressed about accomplishing these goals during the year, I can remember how it all connects to the things that are collectively most important as a team.