We all know the always-together, never-flustered, cool-and-calm professional who takes everything in stride and never seems to get rattled as she meets all her demanding deadlines with style. The good news is that, with the right approach, we can all find ways to be efficient.
Write Everything Down
An invaluable tip a coworker gave me years ago is to write down my commitments, phone conversations, ideas
and to-dos. My methods have changed over the years but my system always incorporates detailed notes on
deadlines and client expectations, key contacts and phone numbers, and the breakdown of steps needed to
meet my goals. Today we’re able to carry our notes and reminders with us on phones and tablets – the
necessary details are always at our fingertips.
Look for Ways to Be More Efficient
We’ve all read universal time-management tips from productive people: Don’t touch paper more than once –
act on it, delegate it or delete it. Prepare for tomorrow before you leave your desk for the night. Tackle the most
unpleasant item on your to-do list first thing, before anything else. Check and return email only at designated
times. Resist urge to act on falsely “urgent” items in favor of tackling the truly important stuff.
Good habits, all, but here are a few more to consider.
Keep on track. While meetings are generally big time-wasters, productive people know that sticking to an
intended schedule, scrupulously following the agenda and paying attention in the moment make everyone more
Learn to say no. The more we say no, the less we experience stress, burnout and even depression. Learning
to say no at appropriate moments lifts our mood as well as our productivity.
Refrain from multitasking. Being bombarded with stimulation from different directions renders us incapable of
recalling details, paying attention or being able to pivot efficiently from one task to another.
Delegate. You’re not the only smart one in your organization. When you trust other people to do their jobs, it
frees you up to focus on your own priorities.
Disappear. A wonderful way to complete high-priority projects is to temporarily go off the grid. Walking away
from the computer and phone for a short period of time helps you to gather your thoughts and regain focus.
Capture your commitments. Your voicemail, email and electronic calendar, notes and reminders allow you to
see your various commitments anywhere, anytime – and remove excuses for missing deadlines and forgetting
Give Yourself a Break
At the end of the day, we can only try our best. Knowing our limitations, trusting others to help, and prioritizing
our most important demands can go a long way. Finally, learning to breathe deeply, relax when appropriate,
and smile at life’s absurdities can help us be more realistic in our expectations – and more fun to be around.