10 Easy Steps to Improve Time Management and Reduce Stress

10 Easy Steps to Improve Time Management and Reduce StressStruggling with time management? You don’t have to. Review these ten easy steps to improve time management and once you’ve applied them, you should experience a significant reduction in stress. You’ll also be one step ahead on the path to personal and professional excellence!

1. Set goals

Set goals, both at work and at home, to determine exactly what it is that you want to achieve. You will use these goals later to help prioritise and decide what tasks and activities you should work on, and in which order.

2. Plan

One of the most important steps to improving both personal and professional time management is planning.

When planning your schedule, be realistic: what can you really achieve with each time slot during your day? Be sure not to over-commit yourself to others, which will cause unnecessary stress. There is a limit to what you can get done each day. Use your goals and priorities to ensure you have enough time for the things you absolutely must accomplish during each week.

Don’t forget to leave time each day to handle the unexpected. Things come up, and your schedule must be flexible enough to handle changes without causing additional stress.

3. Prioritise

Write your goals on a list you can keep close at hand during the day, at least until you grow accustomed to your new system. Assign incoming tasks according to a priority system: 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C, or even a colour system. Use whichever you prefer, and add as many levels of importance as you think you need, without overcomplicating the system. Unnecessary complication can add to stress.

When preparing your weekly schedule, make sure the tasks you work on during the day are the ones with the highest priority. Fill in time blocks to complete these tasks first, then move to your second priority. If you still have time (keeping in mind to leave contingency space for the unexpected), then move on to your third category. If not, see if you can delegate the task to someone else. If not, avoid committing to the task.

Remember: each time you are given a new assignment, analyse it for importance and prioritize it accordingly.

If you have an existing task or to do list for this week, prioritize it now.

4. Set deadlines

Now that you’ve got your goals, priorities, and schedule clear, review your deadlines. Chances are, you’ve already been given deadlines for most of your tasks. If not, make your own, taking into consideration your priority criteria. If you let tasks float around without being formally added to your schedule, odds are you’ll procrastinate on them and they won’t get done until you’re asked about them…and by that time, you’ll most likely be expected to deliver ASAP, causing unnecessary stress.

5. Keep an activity log

During your first week with your new system, keep an activity log. This is a valuable tool that can help you understand how you spend your time. Set up a quick Excel sheet (or use a simple piece of paper) with four columns: Time (of day), Activity, Duration, Priority, and Energy. As you work on each task throughout the day, simply note down the things you do as you do them: what time of day it is, a brief description of the activity, how much time you spent on it, what priority rating you give the task, and your energy level while you worked on the task.

Once the week is over, use the log to look for ways to avoid wasting time and effort during the week. Also note what hours of the day you are most productive, taking into consideration your energy level. This can help determine when you perform at your best and help you organize your day to take advantage of your natural highs and lows in energy. Some people naturally work better in the morning, and others in the afternoon.

After you’ve noted which are your best hours, be sure to schedule your most challenging tasks for the times of day when your own energy level is highest. If you don’t take this into consideration, you may end up scheduling tasks that require high levels of concentration during hours when you’re naturally at an energy low. This can lead to unnecessary stress.

6. End procrastination…now!

You’ve already made sure that each task has its own deadline, so you’re clear about when things are due. Don’t delay tasks that you perceive as less desirable until the last minute. They won’t disappear on their own, and you’ve got to get them done at some point, so it’s best to just get them over with. The peace of mind you’ll get from completing what you perceive to be a less desirable task will help reduce stress and will help you move on with the rest of your tasks.

If you’ve got an email in your inbox that you’ve read and re-read, go straight to it and reply the next time you’re checking your mail.

7. Minimise distractions

Distractions can keep you from working on priority tasks. You know what they are: email, instant messaging, phone calls, the internet, co-workers, or a noisy environment. Keep a week-long interruption log, similar to your activity log. Make note of Time (of day), Interruption, Duration, and Priority (which of your goals did it affect, and what is the priority of that goal?). Once the week is over, use the log to look for ways to avoid interruptions during the week, thus reducing unnecessary stress. Also note what hours of the day you receive the most interruptions. Take this into account when planning your weekly schedule.

To avoid email interruption, try to minimize the number of times a day you check your email, reading and replying to e-mails in blocks only a few times each day. Be sure to notify your boss if you have one, and other co-workers of your new policy. See if you can reduce email time to three blocks each day: morning, when you get in, before or after lunch, and just before you leave. Again, be sure to take into consideration the priority of each email before dedicating time to it. And, keep your personal email separate from your professional email by using separate accounts and folders. Disable all email alerts, such as pop-ups or sounds to reduce the temptation to check constantly.

If you aren’t required to use instant messaging at work, then don’t. Set up your messenger so that it doesn’t automatically log on when you start your computer, or set your status to invisible. Only use it when you need to reach someone, then immediately change your status or get offline. If you must use an IM system at work, try keeping your status to Busy to discourage unimportant messages. The same goes for Skype.

Do you really need to answer the phone as it rings, or can you use voice mail to treat it as you do your email? Some jobs require that you be always available by phone. Take some time to think about your job and the type of calls you receive. Are they all urgent and important? Are they all in your top priority status? If not, try letting some calls go directly to your assistant if you have one, or to voicemail. See how that works for you. The same goes for your cell phone and Skype. This is especially useful if you are on a deadline or working on a task that requires maximum concentration.

How much do you use the internet while you’re at work? Do you really need to? If you need to browse the web for research or information, be sure you stick to that and don’t get distracted by social media or random browsing. If you use a feed reader to browse work-related news, review your feed list regularly to delete feeds that don’t directly relate to your top priorities.

Are co-workers interrupting you on a constant basis? If you work in an open office environment, try using headphones with nature sounds or calm, non-distracting music. This can help you create your own peaceful micro-world, and make co-workers think twice before speaking to you. If this is not effective, speak respectfully and directly with the person about the issue. If you have a closed office with a door, you might also want to schedule an hour a day when you simply close the door. If you’re a manager, you don’t want to abuse your closed-door hours, but an hour a day should be enough to give you some extra concentration time. Be sure to make this during the hour of the day when you’re naturally most productive.

Try to minimise the number of times that you change between types of tasks. This can help improve concentration. For example, rather than replying to emails constantly throughout the day, schedule it in blocks as mentioned above. Do the same for other types of tasks that you perform repeatedly throughout the week.

8. Plan for mini-breaks

You know you’re not a robot, so don’t act like you are. Everyone has natural highs and lows in energy levels, as you’ve already noted in your log. If you plod through your tasks without a single break, odd are you’ll burn out even faster, and it will take you longer to complete each task. Just a five minute break can be effective. Be sure to get up from your desk or work area once each hour (set an alarm if you need to remind yourself and don’t find it distracting, or plan to take a mini-break between task types), get a glass of water, and stretch a bit before returning to your work area. Something as simple as drinking a glass of water will rehydrate you and can give you an extra energy boost. This can make a huge difference in fully taking advantage of time by keeping energy levels at their max and reducing stress.

9. Avoid sleepiness

Be sure to get enough sleep each night. Different people require different amounts of sleep. If you’re unsure how much you need, keep a sleep log and track how much you slept each night during the week and what your energy levels and productivity were like the next day at work. Sleepiness can lead to unproductive work days and distraction, causing stress as you realise how little work is getting done.

If you’re still feeling tired at work, go outside for a walk as part of one of your mini-breaks. This will help you get some fresh air and move around, which may help increase your energy levels and productivity.

10. Watch what you eat and drink

When you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, you quickly become dehydrated, and you may not be able to think clearly and focus on your work. There are a couple of ways to stay hydrated: either keep a large water bottle on your desk, and drink it regularly throughout the day, or integrate water drinking into your hourly mini-break.

What you eat may also influence how tired you feel throughout the day. Avoid heavy lunches, and be sure to bring snacks for mid-morning and afternoon. In the same way that dehydration can lead to drowsiness, so can hunger. A small snack of fruit and nuts can bring your energy level up in a way that won’t leave you crashing later, as sugar or caffeine can.

Does all of that sound easy enough? It’s a step by step process, so it’s easy to make huge changes in time management one step at a time. Let me know if you try this system, and how it works for you. Also be sure to comment if you have any additional tips.

Update: Check out 10 MORE steps to improve time management and reduce stress, with readers’ comments and more.

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136 Responses to 10 Easy Steps to Improve Time Management and Reduce Stress

  1. Mikalee Byerman January 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    …but I’m a procrastinator by nature! I’m a journalist, after all. Deadlines are my thing!

    Yeah, I know — totally excuses, all of them. I’ve gotta stop this procrastinating.

    Maybe later. ;)

    Great post, great tips. Thank you!

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

      Glad you liked it! Hope the tips can be helpful to you.

      The great thing about working in journalism is that your deadlines are always clear. ;-)

  2. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife January 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    I think the last one is highly overlooked. Water intake is so important! Thanks for the tips :)

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      I agree. So many times I’ll be at my computer, feeling tired, and then I see my empty water glass on my desk and realise it’s been forever since I last had a glass. It makes a huge difference.

  3. J Roycroft January 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Pretty good advice. Congrats on FP

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

      Thanks J! The great thing about FP is that I’ve been meeting lots of new readers. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Liz January 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    Great article, Holly!
    I was writing an article when I was distracted by your article. Ha!:) Actually my daughter is home sick today, so writing is a little more-ahem-difficult. Hope you’ll visit me at http://www.secretsofmoms.com.
    Congrats for being featured on Freshly Pressed!

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Aren’t blogs distracting? ;-)
      Thanks for your comment and congrats! Hope the post was useful to you and that your daughter gets well soon!

  5. Claire Standish January 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    This was just what I needed to read right now.

    Thanks for this Holly!

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

      Great! Glad to hear it was of use to you.

  6. I Made You A Mixtape January 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    The activity log is a great idea! Now I will be able to see “where my day ahs gone” – when I am dumbfounded again at the end of a long day and I did not get even half of done what I was supposed to…(I’m ashamed to admit)

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

      The activity log has been so useful to me. I do it every once in a while…whenever I feel like I’m not getting everything done that I want to. Hope it works for you!

  7. acleansurface January 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    It’s always good to have a plan.

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

      I agree…

      “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
      “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
      “I don’t much care where —” said Alice.
      “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
      -Lewis Carroll

  8. Michael Reynolds January 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Great blog post.

    I listen to the Naturespace free app for iPad as I work. Having some background “white noise,” while at the same time reducing all other distractions is helpful for me.

    I am sure you have heard of the 43 Folders System as well. Organizationally, it has helped me prioritize and remember important items such as cards to send, library book due dates, etc. I wrote about it here:

    http://writinginthedirt.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/my-43-folders-system/

    Congratulations on you selection by the FP folks. Again, great post!

    Michael Reynolds

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

      I also love nature sounds while working. I absolutely love the Naturespace products! (http://www.naturespace.com) I hadn’t heard of them before, so thanks for the recommendation!

      Excellent post, thanks for linking to it! Yes, I’ve heard it referred to as the tickler file in GTD. Great tool for those who work with a lot of paper.

      Paper drives me crazy. I try to scan and recycle or reuse what I can, and avoid all possible paper. I’ve recently accumulated a bit of paper, and need to reorganise.

      Thanks again!

      • Michael Reynolds January 27, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

        Holly,

        You are a great writer, and I am sure a very effective life coach. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. Blessing to you.

        Sincerely,

        Michael

        • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

          Thanks Michael! I try to be helpful. I love it that this post was useful to so many people. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  9. Kari Cross January 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Great blog! I always forget to plan the mini breaks and then I need a large break. Thank you.

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

      Thanks! I agree…it’s much more effective to take the mini breaks rather than a big one. Good luck!

  10. notesfromrumbleycottage January 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    I hve found sleep is ever so important. Good tips, I think I am going to work No. 5 to better results.

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

      Sleep is so important. I find it so hard to concentrate on the days when I haven’t had much sleep the night before. Good luck with the activity log! I hope it helps. Let me know how it works for you.

  11. Soma January 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    I love the minimize distraction part…something i really wanted to hear! :)
    Good one..will try to adapt some

    Have fun!

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      Sometimes it can take a while to figure out the best ways to reduce distraction, but it’s well worth it to consider the options you have. Good luck!

  12. harkheindzel January 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    Hmmm.great post. I once wrote something on time management. This is really great. I really gotta stick to em.

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

      Thanks! I agree…the issue is keeping up with the time management tips. I try to re-read things regularly to remind myself of the things that I know work for me.

  13. Vitalis Ranggawea January 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Thank you for the good tips. Great post.

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

      Thanks! Hope it’s useful to you.

  14. wisetrout January 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Great tips on minimizing distractions…time suckers. I have a sticky note above my desk which reads “Do it NOW, do it WELL, get it FINISHED” As helpful as technology can be, it hasn’t done us any favors in creating a culture of “always available”. Thanks for the reminder and ideas.

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

      Distractions ARE time vampires. I love your sticky note! Thanks for the suggestion.

      I have a variety of sticky notes on my printer, which is just behind my computer on my desk. One reads: “INTENTION, DEDICATION, ATTENTION, PATIENCE.” It’s good to have reminders posted around.

  15. Andreas Moser January 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    And just say NO!
    Most of what steals your time, are things that you do for others: for friends, for family, for your boss, your colleagues, etc. Think of yourself first and if you have done everything that you need to do, then you can take care of others.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      I agree…it’s all about priorities. Be clear on what’s most important to you, and work on that first. If you work through your own priorities first, you’ll achieve your goals faster.

      Saying no can be an issue for some people, and it’s an important part of time management.

  16. Renjith January 27, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Very nice tip. I can post this article in printed for on the wall. its worth it
    Thanks again for this wonderful info.

    Renjith

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

      Great! Glad to hear it was of use to you. Thanks!

  17. Sandra Bell Kirchman January 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    Very interesting post and nicely organized (you are your own advertisement lol). One of the things about some disorganized people is that they resist being organized. I have started I don’t know how many plans, schedules, tickler files, etc. Most of the time I find them to seem more extra work than I need. However, how come I am under stress all the time then, to the point where it is affecting my health? My doctor says I work too hard and stress too much. *sigh*

    Perhaps your sensible list will inspire me to finally get organized. I would love to have my office looking neat and professional instead of like a paper dragon exploded in here. I think you can add one more tip to your list. Resist being a pack rat and clean out drawers, files, and cubbyholes, which are all stuffed with papers, notes, extra pens, out of date stamps, more paper clips than I can possibly use in one lifetime and a crumpled photo of Keanu Reeves.

    Thanks for trying (to help me get organized) :)

    Sandra
    Wizards and Ogres and Elves…oh my!
    (http://fantasyfic.wordpress.com)

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

      Thanks Sandra! We resist a lot of things, don’t we? We’re our own limitations.

      Thanks also for your suggestion to stop being a pack rat. Things tend to accumulate, and a regular cleaning is a great idea! I just went through the things that have accumulated on my desk this week, and was able to get rid of a lot of things.

      Good luck with the list! Let me know how it goes.

  18. griyatawang January 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Hi Holly, I’m studying for my final project presentation tomorrow but yes, I keep browsing randomly and check my dashboard. And constantly, I keep an eye on FP ^_^, so your blog just popped out and I was curious to sneak peek :DDD. Great post!

    • Holly January 27, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

      Thanks so much! The best of luck to you with your presentation tomorrow.

  19. eleanorsnare January 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Hi! I found this from the WordPress picks front page. I’m a part-time postgraduate student, work part-time in retail, write freelance and also take part in lots of crafts/external groups: so this list has been really helpful! Although I do a lot of the things already – like make detailed lists – working out when I’m most productive, prioritising, etc, will really help me juggle everything I’ve got to do!
    Thanks for a great post.
    Elly

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:30 am #

      Sounds like you have a busy schedule! I hope the tips help you get organised and work according to your priorities. Good luck! Let me know how it goes. Thanks!

  20. auntiecarol69 January 27, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    I like the way you not only give helpful suggestions but you write on how to best do what you suggested in enough detail to know how best to implement what you wrote. BTW the procastinators motto is “Just you wait”

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      Great! Glad you found it clear and detailed enough. I didn’t want to make it too long, but I did want to get a bit of detail in there.

      I loved that procrastinators’ motto! ;-)

  21. mclj2011 January 27, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    These are excellent suggestions. Planning and motivation are the keys to helping any procrastinator get things done.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks! I agree, both of those elements are key. If we don’t know what our priorities are, how do we know where to begin?

  22. TK January 27, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    Thanks a lot for the tips,
    I am studying architecture and there are just so many things cramped into our weekly schedule.
    and I am really bad at time management.
    All of my colleagues, including myself, always do all-nighters, at least once a week.
    But I would really like to cut down on that and just do more work over the course of the week.

    Would definitely try setting a new schedule to give myself more rest. I really do need it.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:34 am #

      I’ve had a lot of friend study architecture, and I remember how it was for them. Try to set priorities and get those done first. Don’t forget mini-breaks, otherwise you may get all burnt out and not get anything done. The best of luck to you!

  23. thesecretgirlforever January 28, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    great tips for reducing stress!! congrats on being freshly pressed! :]

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:34 am #

      Thanks! Glad it was useful to you.

  24. Steven Braganca January 28, 2011 at 12:04 am #

    GREAT TIPS THANK YOU I WILL use these to get my self in better shape to take on the world.

    About what you eat and drink very important but you did miss one thing. WHAT WE BREATHE! too. “Life is the Air We Breathe”

  25. Colin Leslie Beadon January 28, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    Reading the ten easy steps, convinces me I could not possibly find a more boring way to live. What a sweat, how utterly humiliating, that every second should be accounted for, ever move thought out in detail, no time to watch clouds, or waves crashing on a coast, or children playing in streams, birds souring high, restless for migration. Incoming storms with the lightening flicking forked tongues, the beauty of a girl combing her hair in a looking glass.
    So, away with you, to your boredom of board meetings, restive in gleaning every available cent. Fool ! The bird of time had but a little way to fly, and Lo, the bird is on the wing. We only pass this way once. Can’t you think of Life, its actuality ? A forested mountain trail , the laughter of your love ?

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      Thanks for your comment!

      By no means do I think every second of the day should be accounted for. Many people generally have a set schedule for working hours, and often feel like they can’t get enough done during this time. The tips above are intended to help people get the most out of their work day, so they don’t have to cut into their leisure time by taking work home.

  26. carleennimrod January 28, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    Very helpful! Proper time management is something that I’m always working on. I’m definitely bookmarking this post.

    All the best!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      Great, thanks! So happy that it was useful to you. Let me know if the list helps you.

  27. Jennifer January 28, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    Bookmarked, perfect, thank you!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you found it useful.

  28. Jean January 28, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    Build in exercise in one’s natural daily routine and kill 2 birds with 1 stone: we don’t have a car. Well, actually I’ve been car-free for the past few decades. Taking transit, walking or in non-snowy weather, cycling gets me to and from work, yet also gives me my exercise at the same time.

    This is a great stress-reliever.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:44 am #

      That’s great that you can live without a car! I haven’t had one myself for the past four years or so, and I’ve been lucky to live in places where public transportation is excellent.

      I can see how walking or cycling to work and back can work wonders on stress. Great suggestion! Thanks.

  29. 29wp January 28, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Great tips – thanks for taking the time to share. I especially like the reminder about planning to do high energy/concentration tasks ONLY at times when you have lots of energy. I know this but often forget to put it into practice because I want to be “productive”. But it’s better to get some rest or attend to the mindless tasks when mental energies are low. Thanks.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:45 am #

      It’s easy to get caught up in things and just plow through our to-do list, and I think we can benefit a lot from paying attention to energy levels. Good luck!

  30. pedz January 28, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    “Sleepiness can lead to unproductive work days and distraction, causing stress as you realise how little work is getting done.”

    So true. Thanks for this!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      Thanks! Sometimes we’d benefit more from getting an extra hour or so of sleep, otherwise we’ll end up losing that hour later from lack of concentration.

  31. Biraciality January 28, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    I really enjoyed reading your tips. I needed a plan to manage my time and reduce some stress. Sometimes we over whelm ourselves with more than we can handle, yet its no need to stress ourselves.

    Have a great day =)

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      I agree! There’s a lot going on, and it’s just a matter of setting priorities and working through the most important things…and not beating ourselves up over not getting absolutely everything done.

  32. jsykes08 January 28, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    Thanks for the info. It’s a big help for me as i’m a working mom and a single parent also. God bless..

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      Thanks! The best of luck to you. Remember to prioritise and not stress if it doesn’t all happen. Focus on the most important things.

  33. todaychronicle January 28, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    Great advice – thanks!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:49 am #

      Thanks for your comment! I hope it was useful to you.

  34. sparksinshadow January 28, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    I may have been born with a personality type that inherently leans toward getting things done in a timely manner, and prioritzing tasks. Thank goodness, because every time I hear tips like these, I get really tense and afraid that some day I’ll have a job that demands that I use these actual specific steps. (Excepting the important sleep and diet advice.)

    I’m not the dippy, trippy, sort — but I feel more alive when the more natural elements of life on earth get to seep into my day, and bring inspiration along with a bit of distraction. I do understand that we aren’t all the same, and that there are other personality types who would embrace these tips. So I’m glad you were freshly pressed and, at least for today, it’s easier for them to find your blog!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:52 am #

      Thanks!

      I agree…some people definitely find it easier than others to prioritise and get things done. Sounds like you’ve got a system that works great for you! Let me know if you have any additional tips for the list.

  35. Jim January 28, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    Re: Prioritizing & setting deadlines

    Give me a pad of Post-Its & a pencil and I can do anything.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      Post Its were a fabulous invention! I love them.

  36. Deboshree January 28, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    Wow that’s some brilliant advice. I needed a headstart for some activities I need to get done and they are possible only if I get up an hour earlier in the morning. I have forever been stalling and maybe this post is what I needed. Thanks!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:53 am #

      Good luck to you! Let me know how it goes once you’ve given these tips a try, and if you think of anything new that works for you.

  37. davidwillisblog January 28, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    #7 on your list is the big one for me. Minimizing the distractions is a must. I am pretty good at outlining a plan and getting going, but I can be derailed so easy sometimes. Thanks for this post. Loads of good advice.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:55 am #

      Thanks! Distractions can derail even the best plan. I hope the tips are useful to you. Let me know if you come up with any additional distraction-busting techniques.

  38. rtcrita January 28, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    I know one thing that helps me keep my stress level to a minimum and even helps me focus in and be more productive, and that is playing some music in the background. If I am working at home, I can take a break and dance (letting me get a little exercise), or turn it up louder or down softer depending on what I need at any given moment. Music has always been a good motivator for me and something that helps to distract me from the fact that I have to get some “work” done, and is an added enjoyment if I’m really liking the work I am doing!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Excellent suggestion, thanks! I love how you use music to both be productive and take energising breaks.

  39. Shaikha January 28, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    Am getting me a headphone, a nature CD and keeping a bottle of water on my desk from now on. Thanks for the awesome tips

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      Let me know how it works! I always have either a cup of tea or a glass of water on my desk. It helps remind me to keep drinking throughout the day.

  40. samritmaity January 28, 2011 at 6:14 am #

    Nice post . Thanks for your tips.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      Great! Hope they are useful to you. Thanks!

  41. StuckOutsideTheBox January 28, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    I am so bad about constantly checking my email, twitter (yes, I actually fell for the twitter thing), and just plain being distracted my everything! I start getting all OCD if anything isn’t organized or in place. It bothers me to leave it, but if I START cleaning/organizing it, I won’t be able to stop until it’s done.

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 10:01 am #

      I’m on twitter too, and with three accounts, one for each of my blogs (the previous two are a bit neglected with the creation of this one, which is my priority for now). I also have Übertwitter on my BlackBerry, and will use travel time (on public transportation, not driving) to get caught up on my tweet reading. That’s when I’ll retweet everything I find interesting.

      When I’m on my computer, I use HootSuite to manage my three Twitter accounts, and when I’m really needing to focus, I’ll close that tab on my browser.

      I, too, have a thing for keeping my inbox in order. Recently, it hasn’t been a priority for me, so it’s a bit messy. I’m having to resist the urge to respond to mails.

      Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!

  42. broadsideblog January 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    All very good advice. As someone carrying a seriously heavy load at the moment, I recently offered my own advice on this issue…

    http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/drop-that-crocodile/

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

      Excellent post, thanks for adding the link! I love your suggestions, and I hope you get well soon! And I hope you can ditch that creepy blog stalker. I’m glad to hear the police paid attention to your concern.

  43. Kim January 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I’ll keep that in mind :S

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

      Great! Let me know if it helps.

  44. amandasperspective January 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Love this post! Especially since I have been struggling a lot lately with managing my time and my expectations of myself to get things done. Truth is, I do about 8 out of the 10 things you have listed – but have been allowing myself to get way too distracted and definitely get tired in the middle of it all. It’s good to hear someone else’s list to try and re-focus my concentration efforts!!!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

      Glad to hear you’re already clear on what you need to do to keep focused and get things done. It’s just a matter of reminding ourselves to put things in practice. Good luck!

  45. cath why not S.I.L.C January 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I can see why you put setting goals as number one – without it there is no planning, no minimising distractions or setting deadlines :) It’s nice to have blogs like this great work keep it up!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

      Thanks! Goal setting is definitely number one. If you don’t know what’s most important to you, then you just kind of wade through the tasks and can get lost along the way. Hope it’s useful to you!

  46. whenquiet January 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    One slightly stressful time consuming activity for me is keeping an eye out for an available parking space from our shop window. When I am parked in a yellow zone, there is a 20 minute time limit only for delivery)..once all my things are out of the car into the shop, I patiently wait until someone moves from a blue zone area(with correct documents, park all day). Once that baby is parked in the correct spot, I am free to multi-task…write, sew, knit, wait on customers…etcetera. And it sure beats having to park 10-15 minutes walking distance away with tons of bags to tote in this bitter cold….A parking center is an option but with that money, I can purchase yarn and send my sister with two children and two grandchildren loads of scarves and nice things.. Congrats on FP..

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

      Well, it sounds like you have your priorities clear! That’s one of the most important parts.

  47. markthegodchaser January 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Thanks for the tips Holly! I’m in a time of serious transitioning, I was getting so burned out. So your blog was just what the doctor ordered. Thanks so much! Looking forward to reading more of your blogs!

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

      Great! Hope it’s all helpful. The comments here were so great, I had to go ahead ASAP with the second post.

  48. fashionmixture January 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    thanks for setting and guide plans of our life

    • Holly January 28, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

      Thanks! I hope it can all be of some use to you.

  49. misspinkles January 29, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    these are great tips!
    thanks so much for sharing them! =)

    • Holly January 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find these tips useful.

  50. Heather January 31, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Great tips, Holly! Thanks for sharing!!!

    My method of attack : Shut off the phone, close Facebook, and use Post-Its!!!

    xoxo
    Heather

    • Holly February 1, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      Great tips, thanks! I’m lucky that I don’t have much phone activity. It can be distracting. How do you like to use Post-Its for reminders?

  51. ©Woomie January 31, 2011 at 1:35 am #

    Just what i needed to hear thanks :)

    • Holly February 1, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      Great! Hope the tips can be of use to you.

  52. CHRISTINA RAS HOUR January 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    This is really helpful.. I`ll save it and do it…. thank you for posting :)

    • Holly February 1, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      Let me know how the tips work for you. Good luck!

  53. Susan Elizabeth Ball January 31, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Great tips. I’ve heard most of these before, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to be reminded abou them. I especially like your suggestion to prioritize your work. Too often we do the tasks that seems more urgent even though it may not be the most important.

    • Holly February 1, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      I agree. Sometimes I’ll re-read something I’ve heard or read before, and suddenly it takes on a new meaning or it reminds me of something that is useful.

      I totally agree on the urgent/important issue. Each morning I sit down and make a list of everything I want to get done each day. Usually, I think of the most urgent things first. Then I go through and re-number them, in order of priority. I start with #1 and work my way down. It’s a huge difference.

  54. 1veggieatatime January 31, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Thank you so much! What a great article. I often forget the most basic things like taking a quick break and rehydrating. I’ve made some important notes for myself and I think your solid advice just might help this stressed out gal!
    -Cara

    • Holly February 1, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      I’m glad you found it useful. If you have trouble remembering to take a break or refilling your water glass, try setting an alarm. It may or may not work for you. It will definitely help you keep these two things more present.

  55. Kunal February 2, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    I have personally realised that making a plan for the day is the most important. If you do not have a plan, you end up doing nothing. Every morning think about all the things you need to do in the day. That way you don’t have the “I want to work but I can’t start” problem.

    Starting is the main thing and for starting..you need to plan your day.

    • Holly February 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

      I agree. If I don’t make a plan, I’ll get a lot of things done, but not necessarily the most important things.

      I usually make up a list the night before with all the things I know I want to do the following day, then in the morning I add anything extra. Then I prioritise it all and get started with the #1 priority.

  56. vanimator February 4, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Great post with great tips.
    Thanks for the share.

    Vanimator
    http://www.vanimator.com

    • Holly February 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you found them helpful.

  57. Astley February 6, 2011 at 4:52 am #

    Thank you for this great list. Some new approaches for a new year.

    • Holly February 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

      Glad you found it useful. Good luck!

  58. Reggy July 16, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Hello there, that is some awesome advice you gave there. I think that people are simple caught up in being stuck and do a lot of time wasting activity to seem busy. What you have advised on being more productive can really help. great post.

    • Holly November 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      Oops! I just now saw this comment. How did I miss it?? Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find these tips to be useful. And I definitely agree that a lot of people get stuck on time wasters.

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