Enter everything into your calendar as soon as it happens
Don’t try to stay on top of your schedule without using a calendar. “I think your head should be used for much bigger and more exciting things,” says New York-based professional organizer “The Spacialist” Erica Ecker. Write everything down as soon as it happens: Make the appointment, set the reminder—and let your mind move onto the better tasks at hand.
Finish the three most important tasks on your to-do list every day, says Laura Leist, author of Eliminate Chaos at Work: 10 Techniques to Increase Productivity. Before you leave work, take 10 to 15 minutes to make a list of everything that needs to be done the following day.
Consolidate your to-do lists into one management system that is cloud-based and remotely accessible, such as GoogleTasks or RememberTheMilk.com. These allow you to keep on top of your tasks while away from your computer, and they help you to avoid wasting your time by rewriting lists.
If you are sending the same things over and over—your credentials, requests, media replies—use a text replacement tool like Shortkeys.com, which will take any length copy and assign it a shortcut. Your message will appear with the tap of only a few keys, saving you up to 20 minutes each day.
Meet weekly or monthly with your spouse for 30 minutes to discuss finances, suggest Bethany and Scott Palmer, founders of TheMoneyCouple.com and coauthors of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money. This should be a time when both of you can focus, free from distractions, children, and work.
…Then don’t discuss finances outside of the designated huddle
Apart from emergencies, reserve money talk for your formal meeting, says Palmer. That way, each partner can trust that the conversation will happen—and won’t need to spring a purchase proposal on the other.
Don’t run the risk of losing everything to a computer crash. Put your mind at ease when you back up your documents with an online tool like Carbonite (carbonite.com) or an automated external hard drive.
At work, make a daily appointment to get something done
Schedule a recurring appointment each day to shut down email, turn off your phone and put an hour of energy into a high-value task, suggests Laura Stack, author of SuperCompetent. Coworkers will see you’ve marked this period busy in your calendar and won’t interrupt your progress.
Probably only one in every 10 emails you receive is important, but for many people, checking the inbox is an addiction—and an overwhelming time-waster. Set your alerts to only sound for messages from clients, your boss or your assistant.
Whether you’re asking for a favor, assigning a task or critiquing a project, try to insert a positive remark into every conversation with your colleagues. Good lines: “I appreciate your help” or “I think you’re doing great,” says Linnda Durré, PhD., Orlando-based psychotherapist and author of Surviving the Toxic Workplace.
A clean desk equals a cleaner state of mind. Eighty to 90 percent of old paperwork can likely be shredded or recycled, estimates Leist. This afternoon, take 20 minutes to go through your piles and dump anything that is not longer relevant. Store important files digitally, if possible.
When you let old mail pile up in your inbox, you’re left with the daunting task of sorting through all of the junk. When you open a message, immediately do one of four things: delete it, file it, forward it or act upon it.
If you’re stuck with a difficult boss, pay attention to how you work best with her—is she at her best in the morning? over email? in person or on the phone? Then, shape your interactions around that time or stick to that mode of communication.
When you first return to the office after a break, don’t expect too much of yourself. Allow yourself at least a couple days to reacclimate before scheduling meetings, says national Work/Life columnist Cindy Goodman.
Learn more about how to stress less in the office HERE.