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3 Tips for Managing Your To-Do List & Boosting Your Productivity

“Too much month at the end of the money”

I first heard that quote in 2004 when I was involved in a round-the-world internet marketing conference circuit.

Over the years, I’ve found it to be an incredibly succinct statement that can be applied not only to our finances, but our time.

Your schedule is yours to control. Are you intentional about how to spend it?

In America, we live in a culture that seems to celebrate “being busy” and even over-working. In fact, a recent study found that some marketing agency partners were manufacturing timecards that exceeded 80 hours per workweek to get promoted.
We are rewarding the wrong things.

With this in mind, I want to share 3 things you can do to improve your productivity today without logging more hours.

Because, do we really want to work longer, or do we want to get more done?

1. Start With The End In Mind

Each evening, I make a list of the tasks and projects I want to accomplish the next day. This helps me turn my brain off at the end of my shift — you may think that processing this list at the end of the day would lead to more mental drain and distraction. I’ve found just the opposite.

My brain likes to solve problems. By taking the last 30 minutes of the work day and making a list for the following day, my brain effectively sets aside those tasks — marks them “as completed”, if you will, since they do not need to be remembered. I wrote them down.

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2. Maintain Healthy Balance

We hear a lot about “work-life balance”, but really, when people say that, they are meaning “work in life integration”. True work-life balance means allowing you to switch between “life” and “work” exclusively, not “working while living” (checking email during dinner, for example, is not work-life balance. That is work taking over life).

Further, a healthy and balanced diet will do wonders for your work productivity.

A colleague recently cut out most sugar from her diet and reported more energy, better focus, no “mid-afternoon crash”, and overall happiness. I have also decided to choose more fruits and vegetables and noticed an improvement in my own productivity and focus. This is especially true for those of us who travel frequently.

3. Learn How to Say No

This is perhaps the hardest of the three productivity tips on this list.

Saying “no” is a sure-fire way to maintain the order of your To-Do list. Whether a client is asking for an additional deliverable, a co-worker sent a blanket invite for a meeting, or a prospective vendor is trying to get on your schedule, you must control and prioritize what goes on your calendar.

I have personally found that blocking out time each week for these “random requests” helps me maintain sanity. It also helps defuse potentially offensive conversation with those coworkers or partners, for example:

I cannot attend this meeting, however I am able to meet on Wednesday at 1pm to help you refine any points or answer any questions that stem from the meeting.

They don’t need to know that I block out 1pm – 4pm every Wednesday for these miscellaneous requests and tasks.

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Next Steps

In most cases, your schedule is yours to control. You may have some mandatory assignments, but generally, you can be intentional about your time. How will you use these 3 productivity tips to work smarter, not harder?

Leave a comment below or Tweet me: @ShaunNestor

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