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How to Get your Productivity back

Finding it increasingly difficult to power on through that exhaustive to-do list?

Overwhelming workloads, looming deadlines and the seemingly endless bleeps alerting us to email, texts and meetings make it increasingly difficult to power on through that exhaustive to-do list. Arm yourself with these simple but effective strategies to get motivated, prioritize tasks and boost productivity.

By Rose Filice

NIX THE NOTIFICATIONS One of the best strategies for staying focused and on task is also one of the easiest: turn off email and text notifications. Doug Heidebrecht, principal of Sun Management Self Management, creator/ facilitator for the Managing Me personal productivity programs and an Adler Certified Professional Coach, says this one small change has a huge impact on productivity, and even suggests taking it one step further: “Don’t check work email after a certain time each evening (the earlier the better). People find that they’re more present, their sense of balance increases and they sleep better.”

FUEL UP “Make sure your body is fueled to perform,” says Clare Kumar, executive productivity coach and president of Streamlife in Toronto, adding, “This includes rest, hydration and nutrition.” She suggests taking a 20-minute, mid-afternoon power nap to recharge your brain if you haven’t slept well the night before, eating healthy snacks, like nuts and veggies, throughout the day and limiting your caffeine consumption after noon so as not to upset your next night’s sleep.

MOVE! Kumar also recommends taking a quick walk break every 30 minutes, like picking up printouts or refilling your water bottle, and taking a longer walk after a lengthier work session to get your blood circulating, muscles working and revive your energy. Heidebrecht agrees: “We think we’re getting more done if we plug away, but studies consistently show that if we take breaks and a lunch (away from our desk) we will get more done in the day. We’ll also be more energized and less overwhelmed.”

PRIORITIZE Ensuring that you and your superior are in  agreement when it comes to high-priority tasks prevents confusion, uncertainty and stress, says Heidebrecht. “By taking a few extra minutes once or twice a month to doublecheck that you’re on the same page, you’ll be more confident about what is a priority and waste less time and stress on things that aren’t so important.”

SCALE BACK It’s easy to assume that your boss is aware of everything on your to-do list or that they approve of the time you allocate to each task, but that’s not always the case. After you’ve checked in and identified your top priorities, Heidebrecht advises presenting a list of low-priority responsibilities and asking what they think of these tasks. “It’s a great opportunity to get their permission and support to push back on some of the things that overwhelm you.”

SCHEDULE “ME” TIME Use your calendar to set aside time for specific tasks you wish to accomplish, suggests Kumar. “Instead of starting your day by reading email, start by looking at your pre-planned calendar and spending time on the things you’ve chosen to be important.”

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