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  • Lori A. Jazvac

Helpful Strategies to Maximize Your Productivity

-- Do you sometimes get bogged down with project deadlines, endless to-do lists, or unfinished tasks during the winter months?

-- Do you find yourself scrambling to get things done, but there are too many distractions leaving you with simply not enough time to achieve your goals?

It's time to rethink your productivity strategy and how you work best.

Whether you are trying to complete a self-paced course, a key project that needs to be submitted by end of month, or navigating a job search, here are some simple, yet empowering strategies that will boost your productivity.

1. Declutter your desk. Create a positive work environment.

The environment where you work can have a vast impact on your productivity. This includes the colour of your walls, the lighting and artifacts, as well as the view. Be sure to work in a room where you are not distracted by noise, piles of unorganized files, or insufficient light.

De-clutter your desk, open the shades, and put on some soft, relaxing music. Minimize all possible distractions. Turn off all email, text, or phone notifications. You will increase your focus and work more efficiently.

2. Break the task or project into manageable steps.

Address minor tasks that will take two minutes or less immediately using the two-minute rule.

Combine small tasks if possible.

Tackle longer tasks one step at a time while only being focused on that step and the individual goals that you set for yourself.

Achieve some tasks more efficiently via email rather than phone. Others will require face-to-face networking. Prioritize your goals and make sound decisions.

3. Work in small spurts or intervals.

Tackling a lengthy project or multiple deadlines all at once can be taxing. Commit to setting a clear goal using the SMART goal approach (specific, measurable, action-driven, realistic, and time-bound).

When a project seems like it will never get done, try working within 20-minute or even 60-minute intervals (whatever works for you). Time yourself, then stop working once you have reached 20-minutes and do something else. Put the task away for another few hours. This may stimulate more creative ideas and solutions while elevating your productivity to get things completed faster.

4. Remain focused. Practice positive affirmations.

Tell yourself that you are getting the task done within a certain timeframe and devote to getting the task completed –– no excuses.

Take action and your feelings will follow. Keep affirming your goal and your value. Remind yourself that you will achieve your goal. Negativity has a way of cluttering your vision and only leads to fruitless results. but positivity inspires and fuels the mind, body, and soul.

Tip: “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

– Zig Ziglar

5. Use your intuition. Work backwards.

Does your gut tell you to tackle the project or task an unconventional way?

If the project involves multiple steps or phases, try approaching the project from the point where you can find common ground. You might then end up completing the project well in advance. Take the path of least resistance when you can and work your way backwards to the beginning.

6. Maximize your time.

A former boss used to prescribe working on challenging tasks during peak hours -- the hours when you best work. For instance, if you are a night owl, then try to tackle the single task at night and watch your productivity soar rather than approaching the task in the morning (if that is possible). Working within my peak hours increases my productivity by at least 40%.

Avoid too much multi-tasking.

Don't forget to track how much time you do spend on tasks. This will help you gain clarity on how you work best and your success strategies.

Tip: “In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.” – Les Brown

7. Recharge your energies.

Get some exercise in like yoga or cardio, or take a break from the task by taking a day trip or visiting a new place. Then come back to the task when you're feeling more refreshed. You might be surprised at how much you get accomplished. A quick walk around the block on a brisk winter’s day will sharpen the senses and reinvigorate your energy.

8. Forget the “to-do” list and replace with the “already done” list.

One of my colleagues loves creating to-do lists and checking the items off upon completion. She considers this a real motivator.

However, for some people, to-do lists may lead to actually feeling more overwhelmed while delaying certain tasks. Rather, keep the task at hand in your mind and visualize yourself getting it done successfully. Once you have completed all the tasks on your mental list, note it on paper, and check them off as completed or done. This will inspire you to see just how much you can achieve in a short time-frame and appreciate your milestones.

9. Keep a weekly log of all your achievements.

Review your log of achievements, including key projects or milestones, and update this information regularly. This will keep you on track to achieve more goals. Record any testimonials from others as prime motivators along with your key success strategy. In fact, post them on your wall for inspiration. This exercise will help you to see how you work best and leverage your strengths.

10. Celebrate your successes.

Once you've completed at least one task as part of a challenging project or goal, treat yourself to meeting a personal goal such as reading that new book, going on that long-awaited trip, seeing a movie, or revamping your exercise routine.

Be kind to yourself. Appreciate your value and channel your strengths.

Remember, you may not get those deadlines completed perfectly all in one week or within a few days, but acknowledge your offerings, capabilities, and successes. Taking action without procrastinating will lead to results. The key is to work gradually at your goal while adhering to quality (without overthinking or doubting your abilities), and be proud of both small and large milestones.

Tip: “The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” — John C. Maxwell

For more information on boosting your productivity at work or tackling your next job search strategy, contact Creative Horizons Communications at 905.730.2374 or email

Think creatively and visualize a new career horizon!

Lori A. Jazvac is the founder, Master Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and Certified Career Transition Coach with Creative Horizons Communications. She provides a wide range of holistic career services to jobseekers of all fields and levels, empowering them to realize their passion and purpose and to embrace their next career milestone.

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