Leave it to a holiday weekend to make you feel behind at work. Who doesn’t love a holiday weekend, but coming back to work I always feel a little scatterbrained. While my blogging career is very different from my prior corporate career on Wall Street, I still spend a huge chunk of my day at a desk on my computer (probably as much as I used to while working corporate). Staying on top of deadlines, maintaining my daily influx of emails and generating new ideas are my top priorities on any given day. Over my years while working on Wall Street (where things are always hectic and you’re always playing catch-up), I’ve picked up a few tricks to conquer my workday and stay on top of deadlines.
Here are my 10 tips for making the most of your workday:
- Check your calendar first thing: Map out your itinerary for the day and make sure you don’t miss anything.
- Keep a to-do list: I don’t know what I would do without a to-do list. I keep a rolling one in a Word Doc and highlight or delete items as I complete them.
- Start with the most important tasks first (preferably those that take less than 15 minutes): Getting little tasks out of the way in the morning always alleviates the stress of having a super long to-do list all day.
- Designate tasks where you can: I’m guilty of trying to do everything on my own the majority of the time, but if you have someone who can do it just as good as you and save you time, it’s always better to designate it to someone else. That way you can focus on what only you can do.
- Idea generate mid-morning or early afternoon: Make sure you have the fuel you need to concentrate and feel creative. For me that means after I’ve eaten (or had coffee) and have had a chance to check off some items on my to-do list.
- Take time for lunch: Again staying fueled is key. I always take a little break in my day for lunch where I walk away from my PC and put down my phone. That little break often helps me reprioritize my day too.
- Organize your inbox: I maintain a lot of folders and file emails as I read them. That way I can easily see new emails coming through and prioritize those that need to be responded to ASAP vs. those that I can return to later.
- Reach out during slower times: Save outreach emails for afternoon – most people are inundated with emails in the AM. Saving cold emails for afternoon when there’s typically a little downtime in the day increases your chances of it being read.
- Time block your day: I spend a lot of my day reprioritizing as emails come in so setting aside a block of time for items that have deadlines (like blog posts) is super important otherwise I’d find myself buried in emails all day.
- Manage your time efficiently: Set an alarm to manage your time when doing tasks you dread most or those that take the longest. Sometimes counting down the time forces you to be the most productive. There’s no minute like the last minute!