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Productivity Tips


- Preparation -

• Spend twenty minutes at the end of each week and ten minutes at the end of each day planning your to-do list.  When you "download" the day's activities before you leave work, you will be fully present to your family.  Planning helps you leave work at work.  I know I haven't done a good job planning when I'm reading a book to one of my children, and I haven't heard a word I've read.  I'm only thinking about what I need to do when I'm done reading the book. That's when I confess to my family that I need ten minutes in the office, and then I'll emerge again, fully read to be mommy and wife.

• The secret to a smooth, sane morning is doing as much as you can the night before.  Lay out clothes for everyone, including stockings, hairpieces, shoes, etc.  Set out the breakfast dishes.  Get the backpacks loaded with homework, permission slips, and gym clothes.  Pack your briefcase, fill the gas tank, and make sure you’re ready for the next day.  For women, file your nails, do your eyebrows, and shave your legs before bed.  Leave as little preparation as possible until the last minute-you’ll thank yourself in the morning.

• Once the kids are in bed, curl up with a good… checkbook?  By devoting only 15 minutes a day to tracking, filing, bills, and mail, you can keep from getting buried in paper. 

• Pretend that you have a bus to catch at a specific time each night.  Make up an arbitrary time, such as 6:04 p.m. (depending upon when you want to depart the office).  You will use time in the late afternoon more efficiently, knowing you have to “get out the door” to make it on time.

• Always have a “Plan B.”  Despite your best-laid plans, you’re bound to get socked with an unexpected obstacle from time to time: your baby runs a fever, your car breaks down, your dog runs away, or a blizzard closes your daughter’s school down.  Have an arrangement with a neighbor, friend, or relative to step in when there’s an emergency.

• By some estimates, managers are interrupted an average of six times an hour.  To counter this, some managers have found it helpful to establish daily office hours, such as 9:00 to 9:45 and 4:15 to 5:00, to field questions and concerns.  If you consistently adhere to this schedule, your employees and co-workers will soon honor it, too.

• Keep a stash of cards, envelopes, and stamps at your desk.  Then you won’t have to run out if you’ve forgotten a birthday or need to get a quick thank-you note in the mail.  Stock up and organize cards at home with a discount company such as Current (they have a great greeting card organizer, 1-800-848-2848).  Order stamps over the phone and you’ll save yourself another trip.  Call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-782-6724 and order in larger quantities; they deliver in three days.

© 2013 Laura Stack. Laura Stack is The Productivity Pro®. For over 20 years, her speeches and seminars have helped professionals, leaders, and teams improve output, execute efficiently, and save time at work. Learn more at TheProductivityPro.

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