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Pro tips from Google's productivity expert
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Pro tips from Google's productivity expert

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This year, I am all about productivity.

And no, I am not talking about working more.

I am talking about working more efficiently.

To get some tips about productivity, I chatted with Google's Executive Productivity Advisor Laura Mae Martin. Here's what I learned:

Work in the same place. Routinely sitting in the same spot helps your brain get back into the groove that work happens here.

With that said, you also want to carve out a work-free zone — like your bedroom, for instance.

Get your inbox under control. You are likely getting too many unimportant emails that crowd your inbox and cause distractions. Martin suggested searching for the word "unsubscribe" because that can indicate the message isn't sent just to you.

Working long hours doesn't always make you more productive. "The number of hours you work does not always equate to the output," Martin said. In fact, it can have a negative effect on your overall performance.

Get more productivity tips here.

Pro tips from Google's productivity expert

A graphic shows a woman running on the hands of a clock.

Startling reality for women

It's no secret that the pandemic has been economically brutal for women.

Here's how bad: The economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. Women accounted for all the losses.

Yep, you read that right.

Here's how that breaks down: Women lost 156,000 jobs last month while men gained 16,000 jobs, reports CNN Business' Annalyn Kurtz.

It's important to keep in mind these are net numbers, so yes, many men lost jobs in December, but as a group they made gains, while women sank deeper into a hole.

Read more about the gender disparity here.

Our goodbye tour

Work Transformed is coming to an end on January 26.

We've loved getting to know you and navigating this new world of remote work. But don't worry, we aren't leaving you hanging. We will still cover workplace stories and how the job market is changing. And if you're looking for a quick daily digest of all the day's business news, I'd like to introduce you to my colleague Allison Morrow — she writes our evening newsletter Nightcap:

Oh hey that's me! Yes, please come join us over at Nightcap, where I offer pithy musings (and occasionally thoughtful analysis) on the biggest business and finance stories of the day.

You can sign up for Nightcap here.

WFH Tip: Create zones

Without unexpected desk visitors, office chitchat and coffee runs to break up our days, working from home can get a little dull. That's why Grace Marshall, author of "How to be Really Productive" suggests playing around with zoning your day:

Try a Focus Zone for when you need to get your head down and focus, when all notifications go off, and you have your brain to yourself.

On the other hand, Social Zones can be certain times of the day when you come up for air, check in with the team at the virtual water cooler, check your emails or have your diary open for catch-up calls.

You could also create special zones for certain projects — a Creative Zone or Writing Zone — where you can change your environment too.

As for the times in the day when you get a slump in energy? That's your Zombie zone. Save up a list of zombie tasks — the ones that require very little energy or thinking — for these times.

Introverts, it's your time to shine...

Introverted leaders can sometimes get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the office.

But a remote work setting could be their time to shine — particularly when it comes to fostering a sense of connection and unity.

"[Introverted leaders] are usually more successful at communicating one-on-one than holding space in a big group. Since there are no big groups or town halls in auditoriums right now, this moment was created for the introverted leader," said Edward Sullivan, CEO of executive coaching firm Velocity Group, to Fast Company.

And for more extroverted leaders, Sullivan said now is the time to learn new skills like listening and being vulnerable, to help better connect with employees.

The art of asking questions

Attention bosses: You don't need to have all the answers.

In fact, you should be the one asking a lot of questions.

"...Leaders should ask powerful and inspiring questions, convey that they don't have the answers, and solicit others' help to find them," writes John Hagel III, founder of Deloitte's Center for the Edge for Harvard Business Review.

Hagel suggests leaders ask more exploratory questions that focus on new opportunities like: "What is a game-changing opportunity that could create much more value than we have delivered in the past?" Or "How could we leverage the resources of third parties to address a broader range of the needs of our customers?"

Who is hiring?

While the economy lost 140,000 jobs in the final month of 2020, some sectors were hiring, according to data from the Labor Department:

  • Professional and business services gained 161,000 jobs
  • Retail trade added 121,000 jobs
  • Construction jobs rose by 51,000
  • Transportation and warehousing jobs increased 47,000
  • Health care jobs rose 39,000
  • Manufacturing jobs increased by 38,000

Coffee break

It's understandable if you haven't been sleeping well these days

But sleep is important, and many of us aren't getting enough of it.

Not only should adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but it should be quality ZZZs, reports Lesley Kennedy for Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN.

So if your sleep schedule is totally out of whack and you are looking to get it back on track, here are some tips to help get a better night's sleep.

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