Personalized Productivity / by Chel Wolverton

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Have you looked up at the clock lately and thought it can't possibly be 2 in the afternoon? You haven't finished anything on your particular project of the day, pangs of guilt follow and you promise to do better tomorrow only to rinse and repeat.

Here are some thoughts that may help, some may not work for you, but hopefully some will.

Routine

It's ALL about the routine. Habits are hard to break and hard to form, but once you pick up the good habits it will be hard to put them down.

Go ahead and read about the GTD method, read the Four Hour Work Week, read what sounds interesting or appeals to you. Even better, create your own routine. Integrate what does work and ignore the rest. That is the goal, what works for YOU.

Christopher Penn is a very busy man. Between 3 different podcasts, including the Financial Aid Podcast, he produces 6 and sometimes 7 shows a week. He also blogs (personally and professionally, uses Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace daily. His personal time comes in the evenings. He balances all of this by having a routine that is unique to what he does.

My own routine is different and I'll detail it in a future blog post.

Distractions

Who isn't distracted in social networking/media space, if you're addicted to Twitter (*quietly raises her hand*) then you understand it's distracting to have a twitter client pinging you every five minutes when your some hundred odd contacts are letting you know what they are doing.

Turn. It. Off.

The world will keep turning. I promise.

No really.

This also goes for IM, Skype, and any other distraction that interrupts you every few minutes. Do you have an email notification tool? That should go off, too. If a client or your boss REALLY needs you to take care of something immediately then they'll pick up the phone.

You will gain time during the day to get things out the door and regain focus on what needs to be done. Plus by getting the stuff you need done, the reward of being able to focus on social media without work interruptions will feel great.

Create another Firefox user. Use this one ONLY for business purposes. Sometimes we can't totally unplug but this will help you ask yourself if the link you are about to click is work related. If it's not, stick it in your text editor or use a tool like Sidenote to keep track of it until later.

Organization

So you have an inbox that says 570 messages not read. Perhaps your bookmarks are a mess and it takes you 5 minutes to find what you're looking for. Take a day and get this under control.

Gmail is my savior. Not only can I quickly go through messages and get them out of my inbox but I have a clear view of the ones that I need to respond to and requests made of me. Make filters for bacn and check those during your social networking time. Delete the emails that are spam or you don't really need to respond to. Archive those that you might need for future reference or that you have responded to. Five sentences will answer most emails, not waste your time, or anyone else's. Practice this! You don't have to use Gmail to make this work for you.

The bottom line is, once you get organized and stay that way it's so much easier to get through the work quickly.

What this all adds up to...

Time management isn't about getting that new gadget that's going to make your life easier. It's about incorporating a routine that's going to get you through the most work quickly in a focused manner. Plus you'll have more time for the fun things or family. It makes life sweeter when you don't have to worry about that task that didn't quite get finished.

If you have any helpful time management tips to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below. You never know what thing that gets you through the day will help someone else.