Umm ... What Just Happened to My Day?

3 quick tips to keep your day from flying away

Posted Nov 05, 2013

We've all experienced it. The day ends, the to-do list is longer than it was in the morning, and you don't know where the time went. It just seemed to fly away. 

Actually, the issue is never time. Time is time. It doesn't fly, walk, or crawl. The issue is how effectively you manage the time you have. 

Here are three quick tips to keep you on track: 

1) Put it in writing. Don’t make a mental list of all the things you need to accomplish in a given day or week or month. Mental lists are easy to push aside or forget. Instead, make a commitment to complete your tasks by a) working out a realistic time table for completing each task, b) scheduling blocks of time into your calendar to complete the task, and c) stick to that schedule absent an emergency. This also means that you may need to redefine emergency. A broken nail is not an emergency; a broken arm is. 

2) Don’t let technology derail you. The bells and whistles that technology has brought to our lives have transformed most of us into Pavlov’s dogs. When we hear that “ding” sound, we salivate until we discover the juicy morsel that awaits us in that text message or email. But these constant technological interruptions wreak havoc on productivity. Research has shown that when we divert our attention from a task to respond to an alert, it takes an average of eleven to sixteen minutes to get back to the point of productivity we were at before we were distracted. Solution: disable alerts while you’re working on a specific task. You’ll get a lot more accomplished. 

3) Revamp your to-do list. Most people's to-do lists are disastrous for their productivity because they're far too broad. Rather than making a list of projects or goals you intend to accomplish, your to-do lists should consist of simple one-step tasks that need to be accomplished in order to complete a project or goal. For example, instead of writing, "Organize the online auction," which is a goal (and a very big one at that), break it down into smaller steps, such as "Re-new the contract with Greater Giving," "Call the Hyatt to see if we can count on them again this year for a three-night stay," or "Schedule a meeting with auction volunteers for Friday." Once a task is done, scratch it off and move on to the next task. By giving yourself specific, action-oriented tasks, you make them easier to accomplish, which moves you closer and closer to your goal and helps you feel more productive. What's the point of having a list if nothing ever gets scratched off? So keep it basic. Keep it simple. And get it done!

© 2013 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved

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Sherrie Bourg Carter is the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout(Prometheus Books, 2011).

About the Author

Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D.

Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., psychologist and author of "High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout," specializes in the area of women and stress.

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