Written by Wendy Ellin Tuesday, May 15 2012
Thirty-plus years ago when I started out in the work world as an administrative assistant in Atlanta, I don’t think I got it – the connection between productivity and the way I worked, the way I viewed my time and my commitments.
I did understand on some level that managing my time, directing my energy and promoting a positive attitude were all essential to being successful, but what I did not know was how to integrate those notions. And I was missing a critical piece - that the way my environment functioned was directly related to my level of productivity. Thankfully, I did have a “certain sense of order in my head,” and I used my natural organizational skills and common sense to get things done.
What I have learned over these past three decades is that the careful and intentional shaping of my environment assures that at the end of my day, I am productive instead of just busy. Plain and simple! I also now understand that there is a difference between “working smart” and “working hard.” I know that realism and consciousness are key to a truly healthy, stress-free, positive, productive environment. I get that I have only 24 hours each day, and so I pay close attention to how much I am capable of getting done.
I have also learned the importance and joy of sharing what we know. And so I’ve taken what I’ve learned and created some simple strategies that I hope you will use to transform your life from “can’t get out from under” to “on top of it all.” I call these Wendy’s Juicy Tidbits. They are new, simple, and effective, and they offer a different way to look at the way you are doing things – and hopefully this new mindset will offer you at least a little more peace of mind!
- Look at your business life like one big VOLLEYBALL GAME. Your goal is to respond to every “ask” - to get the ball back in someone else’s court – whether the inquiry comes through the mail, email, voicemail, etc. That doesn’t mean that things won’t come back to you, but at least you are moving them out of “your court,” which means you are being productive.
- Distinguish between “where you go” and “what you do” on a daily basis. That means don’t have your “to dos” and your “go tos” in the same place. Put your “go tos” go on a calendar because they relate to a specific time. (i.e., lunch appointment, client meeting, doctor appointment, etc.) Your “to dos” just need to be done by a certain day and can go on a list or in a follow-up system.
- Look at your workweek as a FIVE DAY WINDOW. Give yourself five days, Monday through Friday, to get that week’s work done and try not to move your work into the next week where your time is already committed. This takes the stress off having to get something done on Wednesday just because you said you would. And remember, life happens!
- When you have an appointment on your calendar for 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., you have six appointments, not three. Schedule an appointment for 9:30 a.m. to leave your office to get to your 10 a.m. and the same for your 2 and 4 p.m. appointments. Always build in and plan for TT (Travel Time) on your calendar so that you are where you need to be when you say you will. If you don’t plan to be on time, most likely you won’t be!
- STOP TRYING TO GET IT ALL DONE! You never do, so just try to get as much done as you can and go have a life. Your work will be waiting for you when you get there tomorrow! If your day goes “haywire,” just commit to doing the one thing that at the end of the day will give you the most satisfaction.
There you go…five simple tidbits that, even if you put just one into action today, you will be amazed at how much better you feel about your life! Because everything we do boils down to one powerful question, ”How does it make us feel?”
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Wendy Ellin is the founder and president of Momentum, a productivity training and consulting business based out of Atlanta, Ga. Ellin teaches the Momentum Method, which is a step-by-step process for enhancing focus, organization and productivity in the workplace and in life. The approach is designed to make change happen not by changing who you are, but by changing the way you address your challenges. She came to the organizing industry with over 20 years of corporate business, sales and entrepreneurial experience.
Ellin is a member of ABWA (American Business Women’s Association) and was selected as a 2010/2011 Professional Woman of the Year and is a fellow and regular speaker for the AAPPM (American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management) and for IDOC.