Beef up productivity with 4 good habits

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in Office Management,Time Management

Tired of ending the day feeling like you didn't even come close to getting the right amount of work done?

Jason Womack, author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More, offers up a few easy tips for creating the habits that will help you knock out your to-do list.

"It's not about how hard you're working,” says Womack. "There are plenty of very hardworking ­people who aren't as productive as they could be because of the way they manage their day.”

Time Management to the Rescue: 36 ways to manage your workload through calendar management and productivity tools

Four essential good habits for being more productive:

1.  Kick your smartphone out of bed. One of Womack's clients listed "Check email on BlackBerry (in bed)” as part of his daily morning routine. Later, during his 40-­minute work commute, he would take action on those emails.

In between checking and taking action, though, he worried about the messages he'd read in bed.

So Womack asked his client to do something different for five days. "He would leave his mobile device in another room and use an alarm clock to wake up instead of his phone,” says Womack. "He would shower, dress, eat breakfast, and then check email on his train ride to work.”

The client worried that he'd miss the "thinking” time early in the day. But at the end of the experiment, "he was less stressed and was using his morning more productively. This change in his routine gave him a higher quality of life with less stress and increased productivity.”

2.  Always be prepared for "bonus time.” Bring small chunks of work with you wherever you go. Then, for example, while waiting for a meeting to start, you'll be able to reply to an email, confirm appointments or map out a project outline.

"I can promise you that sometime during the next month, someone is going to arrive late for a meeting with you, cancel a meeting or otherwise keep you waiting,” says Womack. And when it happens, you'll have something to work on.

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3.  Change how you manage email. The moment you click on your inbox, your focus disappears as you begin reacting to dozens of requests from others.

Turn your in­­box into a more organized affair by rewriting subject lines to identify next steps, suggests Womack.

For example, you might put "Write Project Update” in the subject line of an email from a boss asking how a project is going.

4.  Organize your to-do list by verbs in order to manage your productivity in terms of action, delegation and progress.

Actions such as call, draft, review and invite are things you can do, generally in one sitting, that have the potential to move the project forward one step at a time.

"If your to-do list has 'big' verbs—by which I mean verbs that are mentally demanding or longer term in nature such as plan, discuss, create, or implement—replace them with action steps to just get started,” says Womack.

Pick "smaller” verbs, or those that describe easy-to-begin actions.

"With just a few key changes,” he says, "you can work in a way that feels really good—and spend your after-work life doing things that feel even better.”

Time Management to the Rescue offers a wealth of knowledge you can put to use today on how to work reasonable hours, prioritize tasks, track productivity, organize your calendar and master technology.

In fact, it's really two reports in one: book cover
  • Part I: Work Smarter, Not Longer Hours offers tips on 18 topics, from overcoming inertia to learning how to say "no.”
  • Part II: Use Technology to Speed Tasks gives you productivity boosters in 18 more areas: keyboard shortcuts, apps for streamlining your day, ways to tune your inbox and much more.
That's 36 topics in all. If you implement just a handful of the proven ideas in this Special Report — even one or two of them — you'll feel an enormous burden lifted off your shoulders.

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