There is much more to productivity at work than creating a “to-do list”.  I believe there are four key areas to manage time at work (and/or at home) to improve productivity.  They are:

    1. Setting priorities and boundaries
    2. Calendar management
    3. Email management
    4. Task and project management

I work with clients on all of these areas and find that some fine-tuning can go a long way to increasing productivity.  Here are a few of my top tips on these areas:

  • SET your priorities and then let them guide your commitments, projects and tasks
  • SET boundaries at work and at home by saying “no thank you” in a nice way
  • DO use your calendar ONLY for items that must happen on a specific date and at a specific time. In other words, do not put a task on your calendar unless it has to be done at a specific time because if it does not get done, the task slips away when the day passes
  • DO use one and only one calendar, if at all possible, to avoid missing appointments that got recorded on one but not the other
  • BLOCK off time in your calendar at work to create time to actually work on projects for your job. Oftentimes, co-workers will schedule you for meetings all day long if you don’t do this
  • TRY using your smartphone to manage your calendar instead of paper. Then sync it and back it up to a web-based or desktop calendar so you always have your data
  • SELECT times of the day where you will read, triage and process email. Otherwise, other people’s priorities will dictate your priorities and you will be allowing others to continually interrupt your workflow
  • TURN off the email notification option
  • TURN emails into tasks where immediate follow-up is not required. This will reduce the number of emails sitting in your inbox and increase your chances of responding in a timely way
  • DO use the excellent productivity tips from the Get Control website and The Hamster Revolution email management book
  • DO use a task manager application such as Outlook to manage your projects and tasks. Outlook has a robust task manager that allows you to set up recurring tasks, drag and drop related emails into the task, set start and end dates, track percentage complete, assign tasks to team members, categorize and prioritize and so much more.  It’s probably the best feature of Outlook and the least utilized

How do you take control of your day?