How To Be More Productive at Work

work

Question:  I’m very busy.  I have lots of things I need to get done and I work long hours.  I feel overwhelmed and stressed because I work hard and yet still have trouble getting things done.  Are there ways for me to be more productive?

Answer:  Yes.  Many people feel busy and also frustrated because they still don’t get things done despite being busy. Here are some tips for working smarter:

  • Plan your work and work your planA few minutes of planning can save you hours of time.  Create a routine that supports planning for your work day.  Review your calendar and prioritize your task list.  Schedule time for getting work done.  Then work your plan.  This will help you stay focused on what’s important and allow you time to get things done.
  • Take regular breaks throughout the day.  If you’re working a marathon day, treat yourself like an endurance athlete.  To perform well your body needs to recharge with food, water and a change of pace (rest or physical activity depending on the type of work you do).  Your mind also needs a break from focused or intense work to recharge.  Try organizing your workday into 25-90 minute sessions.  Between sessions recharge and come back to the next session with renewed energy and focus.

Debbie Rosemont www.itssimplyplaced.com

Drowning in Email- Help!

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Question: Help! I’m drowning in incoming email.  I start opening email in the morning and soon hours have passed and I haven’t done anything but sift through email.  How can I both manage my email and get my work done?

Answer: This is a very common challenge.  Here are some tips for getting in control of your email and assuring you have time to work:

  • Don’t start your day by opening your inbox.  Get something, perhaps the most important something, done from your task list first.  This assures you’ve met one of the day’s goals before you delve into your inbox.
  • Reduce the frequency you check email.  Checking email every few minutes when you’re trying to stay focused on your work is a very distracting and costly behavior.  Experiment working in 25-90 minute sessions without checking email.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done and how the quality of your work improves without so much distraction.
  • Turn off notification sounds and icons.  These notifications, even just hearing or glancing at them, can cost hours a day in lost productivity.  Take control of your email and check you inbox on your terms.

Debbie Rosemont – www.itssimplyplaced.com

Falling Through the Cracks

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Question: Things are falling through the cracks at work.  I’m constantly forgetting to do things or neglecting to follow-up with clients.  I use sticky notes to remind myself of what I need to do and it often looks like my desk is covered in sticky notes.  Worse, I often either can’t find a note or forget that I made a note.  How can I get organized so things don’t fall through the cracks?

Answer:  Not only does having things fall through the cracks prevent you from meeting your commitments and goals; it also creates stress for you.  You need a more reliable process for collecting and storing your tasks and commitments.  You’ve made a good first step in writing things down.  The sticky notes fail because they aren’t safely consolidated into a task or to-do list and because it is difficult to manage your work when commitments and ideas are scattered about.  Here are some tips for preventing things from falling through the cracks:

  • Start using an electronic or paper task list.  Make this the one and only spot you write down all of your commitments.  Carry it with you.  If you do jot down something on a sticky note, make sure to transfer it to your official task list.
  • Create an end of day routine to review and prioritize your task list.  Things fall through the cracks when we lose sight of what’s on our task lists and what’s important.  Take a few minutes at the end of each day to make sure you have all of your tasks written in one place and to make decisions about how to prioritize your work for the next day.

Debbie Rosemont  www.itssimplyplaced.com

 

Increase Your Productivity

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We mistakenly often think that if we just “power through” a task, taking no breaks, we will get the task done faster.  But the opposite is really true.  To better increase your productivity it is a good idea to take a break.  Fresh air is a good idea, and if you can take even 15 minutes to exercise you will receive even more benefits.  So remember to take a break and even stop to smell the flowers- you will thank yourself later.

Other People’s Disorganization

disorganization

Question:

There’s a fellow manager at work who’s a train wreck and they don’t realize it. How do I help someone who’s clearly not organized but who thinks they’re doing fine?

Answer:

In general, trying to change another person’s behavior tends to:

  1. Frustrate you
  2. Annoy them
  3. Have little or no effect on      the bothersome behavior.

Here’s my best advice for dealing with OPD: Other People’s Disorganization

Tip #1: Realize that the one who has to change – is the one who feels the pain

If you’re affected by this manager’s disorganization, your energy is best spent finding ways to get what you need rather than change what they do.

This might mean, for instance, giving them a list of your weekly needs (in a nice way, of course) and following up each afternoon.

Work out what you need in order to do your job and focus on asking for that.

Tip #2: Model the benefits of being organized

Although people don’t often respond well to unsolicited advice, they do tend to notice when someone else has what they want.

Being happy and organized yourself is a great way to sneak under this manager’s radar. Then, if they ask you how you’re so organized, you can offer to help.

Tip #3: Accentuate the positive

At heart, we’re at least partly susceptible to positive reinforcement from our environment.

Showing sincere appreciation when your colleague does the things you need for your job could help encourage the organized behavior you want.

As long as your appreciation is genuine and not manipulative, you can feel fine about conducting a little behavior-shaping experiment of your own.

Michele Connolly, www.getorganizedwizard.com

Never Again Make a New Years Resolution!

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Most people’s resolutions for 2014 will be to lose weight, save money, work less and have better relationships. The exact same as they were last year.  The reason?  No one follows through with their resolutions.  In fact in 2012, only 8 percent of people were successful in keeping their resolutions. The solution? People need to stop choosing the wrong resolutions.  It has nothing to do with commitment and everything to do with organization.  If you’re more organized in your life, even the most challenging resolutions will fall in place.

The top three categories for resolutions are health, wealth and work-related goals. According to Stacey Anderson, publisher of Getting Organized magazine, those categories could each use a bit of organization to help make resolutions stick in 2014:

1.  Health: A recent study divided people into a cluttered room or an organized room and asked them to choose between a candy bar or fruit snack. Those in the organized room overwhelmingly chose the fruit, but the people surrounded by clutter reached for the candy bar.

If your kitchen is a mess, or your dining room table is covered up with an avalanche of paperwork, you’re less likely to make a healthy meal for you and your family,” said Anderson. ”Organization and time management will also open up time you previously didn’t have to go to the gym or take a walk.”

2.  Wealth:  Receiving a late fee after forgetting to pay a bill on time, or losing the bill completely, happens to many people. The same is true for misplacing, or losing, a receipt when an item needs to be returned. People spend one full hour a day looking for things they know they have but can’t find. “People are more likely to spend money on something they already have because of disorganization so investing time in getting organized literally pays off,” said Anderson.

3.  Work: If employees were more organized, productive and had better time management skills at work they would be able to work less.  They might even receive that promotion they have been hoping for, as 83 percent of human resource managers say the appearance of an employee’s desk directly affects their perception of the person’s skill level and professionalism.

 

For 2014 make just one resolution: to get and stay organized.  You’ll be very happy you did!

Taking your To-Do List to Task!

to_do

By Brandi Kajino

Have you ever made a list 500 miles long, with the best of intentions to get it all done? How’s that going? If you’re bound and determined to fine a great task too, you’re in luck, as there are a variety of options available. Whether it is on your phone or online, there is a great variety to choose from. Let’s take the task list from “intent” to “done”, with therese great apps that fit in your pocket.

Evernote www.evernote.com

This program is for keeping bits of information, similar to a collection of notebooks with notes inside them. It’s also possible to share “notebooks” and “notes” with others. Images, audio notes, text and more can be captured and put together with tasks.

Available for: Mac, Pc, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7

Remember The Milk www.rememberthemilk.com

This tool works with a browser; no download to your laptop is necessary. However, you do not need to be connected to the internet, as Remember The Milk also has the capability to work offline. Tasks can be grouped into “Lists”, “Location” (as in where you’d do the task) or “Tagged” (think of this like a label.) Beyond that, tasks can have priority assigned to them, and then sorted in this way.

Available for: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7

Wunderlist www.wunderlist.com

 

The simple fresh design of this app is very appealing. Wunderlist is an uncluttered, easy to use task application. Priorities and dates are among the features, as are sharing tasks with others or printing out a list to take completely offline. The overall simplicity of Wunderlist will appeal to someone looking for a simple task list.

Available for: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7

HiTask www.hitask.com

HiTask is a project and task manager. One standout feature of HiTask is a calendar view, and its ability to integrate with Google Calendar. It’s almost like creating your own virtual dashboard. You also have the ability to set dates for tasks, create recurring tasks or assign tasks to others. If you’re looking for a more robust task app, give this one a try.

Available for: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7

Producteev  www.producteev.com

Like some of the other task managers, Producteev works with online calendars like Google. This enables you to see your tasks in front of you all the time.  One of best features about this one is the “Workspace” feature.  If you’re so inclined, you can section off volunteer, personal and business tasks by assigning it to a workspace.  You can also use a tag to categorize the task.  This is a great option for teams.

Available for: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7

ListPlanIt.com

This is not an app, it’s a huge collection of lists.  There are times you may not want to reinvent the wheel when starting a project. ListPlanIt has all kinds of lists for things like moving, planning a newsletter, and even tracking your social media efforts. You can fill out the forms, download or just print.

Available for: Anything with a PDF reader, like Adobe Reader