Productivity Tips


- Stress -

• Do you have a jam-packed life because you just can’t say, “NO”?  Be realistic about what you have time for.  Think of creative ways to accommodate requests made by others.  Instead of baking homemade brownies for the Girl Scout meeting, offer to buy the paper goods.  Purchase them on your regular grocery store trip.  If your boss is overloading you, say “I’ll be glad to handle that for you.  However, I can’t get to it until I finish the XYZ project.  That will be...” Or, ask what the priorities are for the different pieces of work on your plate and negotiate a due date.  That’s a reasonable way to call the existing workload to your boss’s attention, and you won’t be fired for pointing out that you can only do so much at a time.

• If you have a hard time saying “no,” provide alternatives.   “I’m sorry I can’t chat right now, because I’m up against a tight deadline.  Can I call you back at 3:00 to discuss it?”  “I can’t meet today, because I’m leaving at noon, but I can meet with you tomorrow or the next day.  Which is best for you?”  This defuses a confrontation over “no,” and allows a discussion about which “yes” works best.

• If you’re running on an empty tank and fumes of habit, everyone loses. So rid yourself of the guilt you feel when you relax, refuse a request, or take time for yourself. You need it and deserve it if you want to be at your productive best!  Schedule one vacation day per month for a day of pampering.  Do only what you love to do!

• Don’t waste alone time.  If for some odd reason, I find myself alone in our house, besides shouting “Whoo-hoo!” in my head, I resist the urge to do something “productive.” Funny as it seems coming from me, this is NOT the time to throw in a load of laundry or tidy up the house. Instead, I do something I can’t do when the kids or my husband are home. I ask, “Can I do this activity when James is around?” If the answer is yes, I find something else creative to do. For example, I like getting out the photographs I’ve been stacking for the last few months and putting them into their file boxes. Praying and meditating are good options for me. I also like calling a friend, so I can have a decent conversation for once without a child’s interrupting chatter.

• Don’t allow your kids to over schedule themselves.  Have older kids select a couple of activities that they really enjoy and drop the rest.  The rest of their free time should be spent with the family.  They won’t feel overextended or harried, and you’ll spend less time shuttling them to and fro.

• Make a list of things that consume or waste your time.  Separate the list into things you can’t do anything about and things that you can.  Focus your energy on rethinking those you can change---and stop stressing over everything else.

• Life is full of delays!  Instead of steaming when an appointment is late, put this time to work for you.  Create a folder of reading material and correspondence and keep it with you.  Grab it before you leave the office or house.  When you’re in stuck a traffic jam, waiting for a lunch date, or sitting in the car before soccer practice ends, you can get something done.  It’s a great way to keep your stress level low and your productivity high.

• The National Sleep Foundation reported that drowsy workers cost U.S. employers an estimated $18 billion annually in lost productivity.  Too little sleep also suppresses your immune function, which leads to increased infection and illnesses, creating more absenteeism.  If you add errors, damage, and health consequences, the costs are even higher.  Overall, the quality of work, the amount of work, and your concentration EACH decline by 30% when you’re sleepy. Sleepiness also impairs memory, reaction time, and alertness. Talk about a productivity loss!

• If your doctor told you she had a new drug that would prolong your life, reduce your chance of death from all causes by 50 to 70 percent, improve your quality of sleep, and improve your ability to manage stress, would you take it?  The only catch is it takes about 15-30 minutes a day to “swallow.”  You may be tired of hearing how important exercise is for your energy level, but most people need to hear it again, because over 60 percent of us don’t exercise regularly.  No other factors influence your productivity at work and the quality of your life at home more than your mental and physical health.

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