You know — the people who scurry from task to task, always checking e-mail, organizing something, making a call, running an errand, etc.

The people who do this often subscribe to the idea that “staying busy” means you’re working hard and are going to be more successful.

While this belief may be true to an extent, it often leads to mindless “productivity” — a constant need to do something and a tendency to waste time on menial tasks. The old adage, “work smarter, not harder” has become a staple in the way I go about work of any

  • Keep Your Calendar in Check: As an executive assistant, I live and breathe in a digital calendar, both on my laptop and in my phone. But, what makes everything fall into place is having a physical calendar and notebook to add appointments and to take notes in. Writing something down, and then actually seeing it written there, ingrains those meetings and appointments into my brain, forcing me to stay organized. We’re all so used to having our phones in our face, so seeing something tangible rather than digital helps me remember things that much more.
  • Categorize Your Priorities: Is the priority you’re dealing with a High, Medium or Low priority? By categorizing your priorities into levels, you can more easily recognize their importance. Once that high priority item gets tackled, move your medium priority to high and your low to medium. But, be conscious of how much you’re adding to your list at one time. If your list is getting too long, it can become overwhelming and potentially
  • Get Out of Your Rut: If you’re in a rut, get outside, go for a walk around the block, go make some tea. Or if you need a little bit of fast energy, breath through your nose fast and short three times, it gives you a rush of fresh air.
  • Devote your entire focus to the task at hand:Close out all other browser windows. Put your phone away, out of sight and on silent. Find a quiet place to work, or listen to some music if that helps you (I enjoy listening to classical or ambient music while writing sometimes).

Concentrate on this one task. Nothing else should exist. Immerse yourself in it.

  • Get an early start:Nearly all of us are plagued by the impulse to procrastinate. It seems so easy, and you always manage to get it done eventually, so why not?

Take it from a recovering chronic procrastinator — it’s so much nicer and less stressful to get an earlier start on something. It isn’t that difficult either, if you just decide firmly to do it.

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