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During busy periods at work, it can feel as if you are in survival mode, just trying to stay afloat from day to day and not making any progress. It can be challenging to break this pattern of simply trying to keep up with work and taking proactive steps to create a more productive long-term system. Start with adopting small, manageable habits that you can integrate into your daily schedule, and you will find lasting ways to increase your personal effectiveness.


1. Stay Focused on Action

In meetings, brainstorms, memos and other organizational communications and activities, it is important to stay focused on tangible action steps. It can be easy to get sidetracked by exciting new ideas or projects, but be sure to bring every topic back to specific tasks and goals, with ownership assigned to one person on the team. Find a way to organize your own action tasks in an accessible way, whether that’s a bulletin board of sticky notes or a computer-based project management system. Hold yourself accountable to your system; this is an important part of maintaining and increasing personal effectiveness.


2. Set Deadlines for Yourself

Long-term or open-ended projects can be often the most difficult to manage because of their flexibility. The temptation to procrastinate can be powerful when you have an open timeline, so make it more concrete by dividing a project into smaller tasks over time, setting deadlines for each. For example, if you have a large presentation due in a month, write down smaller action steps you will need to complete to be ready to present—1. Gather financial figures from the last quarter, 2. Ask the marketing director for five stock photos, etc. The project seems more manageable and timely when you see it broken into smaller tasks.


3. Do the Little Stuff Now

We all have those pesky little tasks that we put off until tomorrow when we could easily complete them today. Challenge yourself to improve your personal effectiveness by taking care of any to-do list items immediately that take less than 10 minutes to finish. Make that quick phone call or edit that memo now.


4. Delegate When Possible

Delegation is an important part of being an effective leader. Though it is tempting to try to do everything yourself, it is not a productive or sustainable practice. Delegate tasks to the appropriate people and follow up with them until they reach completion.


How do you stay organized on a daily basis? Share your tips below.


Learn more about productive work habits through the Increasing Personal Effectiveness  course.

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