How many times do you push the snooze button on your alarm on a Monday morning or plan your coffee order before you’re even out of the bed?
I guarantee you, you’re not alone.
If you’ve had a particularly good weekend, it can be hard to jump into productivity mode at the start of your tour of duty. You’d rather spend time looking at pictures from the weekend, reveling in the good time you had, or you just may not be a Monday morning, or any morning, person.
Nonetheless, you know there are things on your to-do list screaming for your attention. How do you end the trips down memory lane and get focused and productive?
I’ve got three productivity hacks or shortcuts that can get you back in the groove and sailing to the end of a successful day.
FOCUS ON THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER
First, we start with mindset. According to Paul Rulkens, author of “The Power of Preeminence, “High performance starts with a mindset that translates into things that you do. Once you’ve got the mindset, you will have the behaviors and then it will turn into action.”
This means that you want to get into the mindset that your valuable time will be better focused on the things that really matter. Why? Because a Monday morning typically finds you with a laundry list of things you want/need to do by the end of the week. So, you must become masterful at cutting out the fat from your list. What truly needs to be completed today? What can be done later in the week or by someone else who truly enjoys doing it? Are there items on the list that are “nice to do” but really wouldn’t be noticed if no one did them? (We all have those to-dos.)
Start there and be brutal with the list. This is a habit many successful executives use to stay focused and on track. Besides, no one sees this list but you, and it can feel good on a Monday morning to cut things out and approach this as leaders do.
SALVAGE YOUR WASTED TIME
Next, I’m sure you find in each day that you have some “wasted time.” It could be waiting for a meeting to start, waiting for a conference call to begin, travel time, etc. How can you salvage that wasted time and put it to work for you?
Let’s return to your to-do list. Scan it to see what could be handled with a quick email, scheduling an appointment on your calendar, or a quick call to set up an appointment. You can also use this “wasted time” to make a note in your journal about how the day is going and what you want to celebrate at day’s end. You see, there really is no “waste” if you can put it to use to give you more productive results in your day.
BUILD “THINK TIME” INTO YOUR DAY
Finally, if you’re in one of those agencies that seem to “prize” meetings, then you’re probably scheduled in calls and meetings — live and virtual — all day. Sure, you can’t get anything else done, however, there is something else that should be scheduled on your calendar.
It’s something most people overlook, and it can be the most beneficial meeting you host each day. What is it? Schedule “think time.” This productivity hack is the most underestimated tool for achieving not only greater productivity but enhances your ability to be more successful.
Successful people know that unless you take the time to digest all you’ve learned, experienced and heard in a given day, you’ll miss the nuggets that can turn a project around, help you recover from a setback or accelerate your progress by seeing around corners you would not turn because you’re too busy.
Building “think time” into your schedule can come during a break, at lunch or even at the end of the day. I’m a huge proponent of journaling, and having a journal to capture your thoughts during “think time” can serve as a powerful referral source when you need it!
So, there you have it: Focus on things that really matter, salvage your “wasted time” and build “think time” into your day. It goes without saying to be sure to get your rest because that opens the door to the mindset you need to put these productivity hacks in place and allow them to create success in your life and career.
Christine “Chris” Makell has worked for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for over four years, having held positions of increasing challenges and responsibility in that short time. She is currently a Program Analyst in the Knowledge Management & Transfer office. She joins federal service after a 28-year career in the private sector and six years as the owner of Chris Makell Consulting/Coaching working with individuals and sales teams to achieve greater success.
This post originally appeared on July 9, 2021.