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Get More Done Every Day!


WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Tanya Asnes

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Tired of playing beat the clock — and losing? Try these smart fixes.

Frustrating, isn't it? You start your day off with every intention of sailing through your ample to do list. But then someone calls to schmooze...or you fritter away an hour slogging through junk and joke e-mails...or you try to juggle too many tasks at once and end up making next to no headway on any one of them. Come day's end, you wonder, Where the heck did my time go? Well, here's your chance to finally break that cycle (and it doesn't involve becoming even more of a multitasking machine than you already are). Read on for effective, sanity-saving strategies that'll help you make the most of your time — at home or at work — so that you can get tons done and enjoy each day more.

Seize the morning.

At the end of your day, make a list of the top 10 things you want to accomplish tomorrow.
Then get yourself to the office or start your around the house tasks a half hour earlier than usual and tackle your highest priority projects first. Yes, it'll be a tough time adjustment initially, but the delicious sense of accomplishment you'll feel (especially while the rest of the world is "just trying to get focused") will make it all worthwhile.

"The top of the morning is the most productive time of day for most people," says Stephanie Winston, a consultant in executive productivity and author of Organized for Success . "Women who start their mornings chatting away with their coworkers and slowly savoring a cup of coffee are actually blowing the most valuable part of their day."

Exercise e-mail willpower.

Constantly checking those messages is addictive and can stop you from getting your real work done. So put yourself on a strict e-mail diet. "Don't ever check your e-mail for the first hour of the morning," advises Julie Morgenstern, corporate productivity consultant and author of Never Check E-mail in the Morning . (Okay, if you happen to be one of the few people whose job function absolutely depends on checking your e-mail first thing, then open only those messages that relate to your priority tasks.) Then, adds Morgenstern, "Process your inbox every one to two or even every three to four hours depending on the demands of your job."

Afraid that your coworkers, friends, or family will get annoyed because it's been 20 minutes and they still haven't heard back from you? Try telling them about your new and improved system. Since you've put your revamped e-mail plan into play for practical reasons, they may well respect you for setting some boundaries.

When you do eventually tackle your virtual inbox, try to keep your exchanges short and to the point, and sum up exactly what you need, for instance, by writing, "Please confirm 4 p.m. meeting tomorrow" in the header. If despite your efforts you find yourself getting sucked into an unproductive back-and-forth of pleasantries and trivial information, it's perfectly fine for you to bring things to a close with a simple "Thanks" or "No reply necessary" or "Don't need any further updates unless there's a change in the numbers," says Morgenstern.

Finally, if you haven't already done so, take Winston's sage advice: "Disable the e-mail alert 'ting!' It's extremely distracting."

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