By Sunny Simon

My client walked in my office with a long face and a lackluster greeting. Noticing the gloomy aura I inquired about the cause. Madison’s complaint was a recent lack of productivity. It appears the entire week was fraught with stops and starts, lots of interruptions, project stalls and no substantive progress.

I could relate. We’ve probably all had those upside down unproductive days that sometimes last a week. Getting back on track requires operational changes. Obviously we are doing something wrong if we end the day in frustration.

Like many individuals, Madison’s nature is helpful and accommodating. Although that is an admirable quality, we must set limits. Around the clock availability is an invitation for others to interrupt taking focus away from the task at hand. Change that dynamic by not saying yes to every request. Politely give the signal you are in the middle of an important project and need to stay focused.

Timing is everything. Our internal clock plays a large role in how much we accomplish during a given day. Be aware of peak times. If morning is when your engine runs best, schedule the heavy lifting activities for early in the day. In doing so, power through a 90 minute segment, then take a ten minute break to refresh. Enjoy a psychological boost by creating momentum in the early hours of the day.

Flex your delegation muscles. During our session, we found Madison’s delegation skills severely lacking. Simply put, if you can hand off a task to someone else, do so. When feeling stressed and overwhelmed, look around. Zero in on a set of helping hands and stop trying to go it alone.

Meetings can be a big time killer. Sure, many are mandatory, but not all. I suggested my client review her schedule of the upcoming week and decide what meetings could be shortened or even eliminated. When involved in compulsory meetings, assign a time keeper and a facilitator to keep all participants focused on the agenda.

If you’re consistently planted behind your desk, you’re doing it wrong. Sprinkle five minute “walk-abouts” throughout your day. Not only does this get your blood pumping, but your thoughts receive a mini vacation. Scientific studies report that brief mental breaks help you stay focused.

At our next session, Madison reported she aced her work week by employing productivity strategies. Small changes can lead to big success. Give it a try. Power through the week, and like Madison, you’ll have reason to celebrate the weekend.  

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching and the author of the blog,