Skip to content

Archive for September, 2016


Tips to Organize for Results

Disorganization is the enemy of productivity. Every time you have to sort through a stack of paper, scan a list of e-mail subject lines, or search your computer for a document, you waste time. Disorder not only affects productivity, it increases stress and lowers self-esteem. Here are easy tips to help you get and stay organized.shutterstock_127208399

  • Set aside 15 minutes twice a day to take care of paper stacks in your office. File papers you need to keep and trash those you don’t. Do the same thing for electronic files and e-mails. Store documents you use most often nearest your work area. Documents used less often should be stored farther away.
  • File completed documents as soon as you finish them. Allowing them to stay on your actual or computer desktop or in your e-mail in-box creates clutter. (For more information on clearing your in-box, see my blog post Clear Out Your In-box.)
  • Use your calendar to keep track of appointments, tasks that need to be completed, and follow-up reminders. Review it before leaving at the end of the day and get out what you will need for the next day.

Getting organized takes some time, but once you get into the habit, life becomes much easier. You can be more positively productive and less stressed!

Check out my Go System and Writing and Managing E-mail workshops.


Don’t Be Late

Tardiness was penalized in school; in business, the penalty is lost productivity and tarnished professionalism. Being late occasionally will happen because some situations are beyond our control. However, being late regularly requires some attention. Here are a few tips to help you be on time.

Before leaving the office at the end of the day, check your calendar for the next day’s appointments and meetings and prepare everything you need. Make sure you set alerts on your calendar to remind you to leave, based on how much travel time you need in order to arrive on time.Angry Boss Lady Pointing to Alarm Clock

Plan your morning the night before:

  • List everything you need to take with you and post it where you will see it before you leave the house in the morning.
  • Set out what you plan to wear the next day, including accessories and shoes.
  • Make sure your briefcase or tote has everything you will need the next day and place it next to the door.
  • Find out what your children need for the next day and put their things next to your own.
  • Prepare lunch items and place them in to-go containers in the fridge.
  • Set the table for breakfast.
  • Set your alarm to go off at least 15 minutes before you need to get up.

These easy-to-use tips can help you be prompt, professional, and positively productive.


End E-mail Madness

If you’re like most people, your primary form of communication is e-mail. It is one of your most important business tools, yet it is one of the hardest to get control over! Whether you’re writing them, responding to them, or trying to manage an overflowing in-box, e-mails pose a challenge to positive productivity. Here are five quick tips to help you take charge of

  1. Use your subject line. The subject line is the only clue recipients have about the e-mail and what is expected of them. In my Writing and Managing E-mail workshop, I encourage people to start the subject line with a keyword, such as “Decision,” “Review,” “Approve,” and so on. The keyword tells the recipient what the e-mail is about and what you need from them. It can get your e-mail opened sooner!
  2. Use a greeting. “Hi” or “Hello” work for internal e-mails and use a standard correspondence salutation for e-mails going outside the company: Dear [the recipient’s first name] or Dear [the recipient’s title and last name]. In addition to adhering to the rules of etiquette, the e-mail will be treated more seriously since it follows business letter standards.
  3. Avoid text abbreviations, emoticons, and emojis in business e-mails. Abbreviations are tricky since they are open to interpretation and may have more than one meaning. You probably think that LOL means “laugh out loud.” It also means “little old lady” and “lots of love.” Symbols like emoticons and emojis are not professional and do not belong in business correspondence of any kind.
  4. Keep it short. Most people don’t read to the end of an e-mail, so focus on information that is relevant for the recipient and put it first unless it’s bad news. In this case, put the bad news in the middle of the e-mail.
  5. Watch the tone. Tone is what people hear with they read. Short sentences tend to punch the reader, so if your e-mails have been criticized for being abrupt or rude, lengthen your sentences.

Need more help with e-mail? Check out my Writing and Managing E-mail workshop.


Down with Distractions

The key to being positively productive is the ability to concentrate on the task at hand to the exclusion of everything else. Laser focus gets things done. Despite your best efforts, however, distractions will draw away your attention. Are any of these familiar?shutterstock_250820347

  • Your e-mail notice pings, and you drop what you’re doing to check it.
  • Your phone rings, and you answer it instead of letting it go to voice mail.
  • A colleague strolls by, and you stop what you’re working on for a quick chat.

These distractions don’t seem like much, but you lose about 20 minutes each time your attention wanders. That’s the amount of time it takes to regain your focus.  Is that distraction worth the lost productivity?

Here are three tools to help you say “no” to distractions.

  • Unless your job requires you to answer e-mail when it comes in or the phone when it rings, stop. Set specific times during the day to check and take care of both tasks. This eliminates them as a distraction and saves time when you actually address them.
  • Don’t let yourself be interrupted. Be assertive about your time. If someone drops into your office or cubicle, explain that you can’t talk now and set a time to meet later. See my blog post Take Charge of Interruptions.
  • Honor your work cycle. Most people find it hard to concentrate after about 50 – 60 minutes, and if you force yourself to keep going, your focus plummets. You will be less productive. Build in regular stretch breaks throughout the day. When you return to your desk, your focus will once again be high.


Take charge of your time and don’t allow distractions to derail you. Use these tools to remain focused and strengthen your ability to concentrate in order to be more positively productive. See my blog post Focus Produces Results for more information