Seven Productivity Hacks for Museum Professionals

Working in a museum has never been so demanding, and increasingly what every museum job has in common is that there don’t seem to be enough hours in each day.

How do you succeed when your to-do list never seems to end? It might be time to rethink your approach. Consider the following productivity hacks for museum professionals to wring more out of each day:

1. Start tracking how you spend your time
Your first step is to track how you’re spending your time. Try using the Evernote App to keep a diary of your week and then review it to see what’s working for you and where you’re losing time.

Install Rescue Time on your computer and phone. This app tracks minutes spent on various sites or applications. This can be useful if you think you have a bad email or Facebook habit and would like to get it under control.

2. Plan Ahead
Start every day with a plan in mind, rather than just reacting to other people’s demands. Use Google Calendar, Week Plan or Apple Calendar to take control of your schedule.

It’s really important not just to plan, but to take time at the end of each week to look at what’s been effective. Add Evernote to your phone and keep a note of what’s working for you.

3. Say no to meetings
There are two types of unnecessary meetings – those that don’t need to be held, and those that don’t require your participation.

Museums can be especially bad for the latter, especially when adding someone to a meeting invite is as simple as a button click.

Ask for an agenda (even a rough one) for any meeting and think about whether you need to be present or if your opinion can be given in quick email instead.

4. Schedule email
It’s easy to be distracted by your email inbox, so turn your email off and designate time in your day to check your inbox.

This could be five minutes every hour, or twenty minutes at the end of the morning, but by stepping away from email for large parts of the day, you’ll be able to focus on the work that matters.

5. Switch to Slack
Slack is a messaging app for teams. It allows you to set up messaging channels for topics related to your museum, where you can add team members who are involved in that project and communicate.

As instant messaging software it can speed up the process of communication, conversations can happen quickly rather than waiting for an email response. You can also send files and set reminders for yourself and other members of the team, so it’s great for managing personal tasks and being more.

6. The two-minute rule
Got a task? Don’t procrastinate, ask yourself ‘will this task take me less than two minutes to complete?’ If so, do it immediately.

This helps to keep your desk clear and stops you being weighed down by minor tasks. Of course, not everything can be accomplished in two minutes. But, every goal can be started in 2 minutes or less.

7. Start with the stuff that sucks
We all have important tasks which we have to do, but which we don’t enjoy. Do these at the start of the day and get them out of the way.

This gives you less reason to avoid tasks by procrastinating.

Use apps like Wunderlist, Things, and TeuxDeux to manage your to-do lists and identify those tasks which you try and avoid.

Taking control and thinking about how you can approach your tasks more efficiently can help you to feel a little less overwhelmed and hopefully boost your productivity.

What productivity hacks have worked for you and your museum?