1. Be a more efficient time manager by using the rule of two. Focus on the two most important tasks in your day, and you’ll become more productive.
2. Start a filing system and toss everything you don’t need. Eliminating will make it easier to locate the important papers.
3. Limit your work-starting routine to 15 minutes. That is, don’t spend more than 15 minutes getting coffee, settling in, reading e-mails, checking messages, or looking at newspapers. You are often at your freshest and most productive at the beginning of the day.
4. Write two to-do lists. The first should contain everything that you need to get done soon. It should be a comprehensive list of short-, medium-, and long-term projects and work, and you should constantly adjust it. The second to-do list should be what you can reasonably expect to get done today, and today only.
5. Take a few moments to assess the day’s emotional challenges. Almost as important as your to-do list is a “be prepared for” list. Inventory the tough phone calls, boring meetings, challenging customers, frustrating red tape, infuriating rush-hour drives, droning detail work, and other challenges you may face.
6. Visualize your day. Try starting each day by closing your eyes for 10 or 20 seconds and visualizing how you want it to go.
7. Schedule some reading time. There’s not a job that doesn’t require at least some reading, be it about the company, the industry, the marketplace, the economy, the price of tomatoes, etc.
8. Keep essentials nearby. Stock up on the following: low-fat granola bars; bottled water; bags of slow-dissolving mints or candy (helps prevent needless snacking); supplements, including a multivitamin, B-complex, C and E vitamins, and echinacea (good for when cold season hits or you forget to take vitamins at home); tissues, and family photos.
9. Embrace the number one truth about stress: Only you create it. Take some deep breaths. Make a list of everything that needs to get done. It will help you to organize your day.
10. Every night before bed, take five minutes to look over the day ahead. This brief look into the future will help you feel more prepared in the morning.
11. Take on just one new activity at a time. When you try to master too many new activities at once, you can easily feel overwhelmed.
12. Carry a small notebook with you everywhere. This is your “worry” journal. When you feel stressed, whip it out and scribble down everything on your mind at that minute.
13. Take breaks throughout the day. It will help clear your mind and relieve pressure. Something as simple as going to the water cooler for a drink may do the trick.
14. If you are always running late, sit down with a pencil and paper and see how you are actually allotting your time. Adjusting your schedule can improve your time management skills, thus causing you to be on time.
15. Don’t stew. Instead, take it out on a small ball you keep in your desk. Squeeze it, throw it in the air, or even take it outside and bounce, throw and catch it until you feel better.
Content continues below ad
16. Use a monthly calendar for short-term scheduling and a 6-month calendar for long-range scheduling. Pencil in all things that pertain to your goals, including classes you want to take, regular exercise sessions, social events, and family time.
17. On a daily action list, categorize tasks: those that need immediate attention (you had better do them yourself), those that can be delegated, and those that can be put off. To avoid procrastination, tackle the toughest jobs first, breaking them into smaller, less daunting components.
18. Free up time for the things you really want to do by simplifying your life. Let go of activities that don’t contribute to your goals.
19. Reduce the waste—and frustration—of everyday delays. Wherever you go, take reading material or a portable music player. Then when you have to wait, you can make good use of or enjoy the time.
20. Set aside a half-hour toward the end of the day to worry. Psychologist Roland Nathan believes that having a formal worrying time cuts down the amount of worrying you do.
21. Be patient. Said one mom and wife: “I wanted everything done my way. I was unwilling to let go of any part of it until it was perfect. So I’ve had to learn to slow down. After a few years, I finally get it: Nothing happens overnight.”
22. Make a point of sharing your knowledge with young professionals as well as high-level executives. Both will remember you for your time and consideration.
23. Keep abreast of trends in your industry by joining professional associations, attending conferences, and reading newsletters and magazines. Take classes and attend training to learn from others in your field.
24. Make networking with others in your field a priority. Schedule some time to meet for coffee or lunch or keep in touch via email and social networks.
25. Learn the importance of giving yourself pep talks, and keep the voice in your head positive. Stay focused, and be willing to work as hard as you need to.
26. Try to challenge yourself in new ways. Seek out complex work and new ideas to avoid boredom and repetition.