In a busy work environment it can be easy to get into work with the best possible intentions and leave having accomplished none of the things you set out to do including work on longer term projects. I've found that these few tricks below have kept me on track and allowed me to better focus my time. 

  Start Right

 The way you start your day will determine your momentum for the rest of it. When I get into the office, the first things I do are:

  1. Coffee (Mandatory) 
  2. Do One hard task that I would love to put off. 
  3. Browse daily reports and KPIs. 
  4. Do one lap of the store and visit employees, seeing what they need. 

Do you notice what's missing? Email.  I take a much different approach to email management. 

Email Management 

As I noticed I don't check email first in the AM. Here's my rules for email to keep it from killing my productivity: 

  • Limit the time you check email. I usually check email from 11-12 and 4-5. This insures it isn't open all day and that it doesn't prioritize recent to-dos over important ones. Note: All of my supervisors and co-workers know that if there is a legitimate emergency, just call or text me. 
  • Don't Use the Inbox as a To Do List -  I used to have the habit of keeping to-do items in my main inbox. The problem is that this can put undue emphasis on recent emails as a priority and will usually get me off track. That's why I usually keep a deepest to do list in Evernote. 
  • The Power of Non-Response -  Unless I'm being asked a direct question or the email is to me only, I don't usually respond. Having the last word can perpetuate an email thread unnecessarily. 

Avoid Meaningless Meetings 

 There is a tendency in the workplace to try and attend every single meeting so you don't miss out or are in the loop on everything. The second I adopted a policy of only value added meetings, I added 4 hours to my weekly special. Plus, people call me all the time to pop into those old meetings if they have something relevant to me.

While there are lots of other little things that get me through the day in a productive way, those three main concepts have greatly improved my effectiveness and reduced anxiety.

What do you do to stay in your lane?