The Secret to a Productive Monday

Mondays have a bad rap. Even when we love our work, we tend to dread Mondays, and not just because the weekend is over and you have to put the golf clubs back in the garage.

For most of us, Mondays are filled with a fog. We may experience a burst of productivity as we wrap up last week’s unfinished tasks, but it’s short-lived. We hold meetings to discuss plans for the week which we haven’t planned yet. We stand around the water cooler discussing what we did over the weekend, but we can’t remember what we did on Friday. By the time we have our heads wrapped around what we need to do for the week, it’s mid-afternoon, and we’re starting the week with productivity debt.

The secret to a productive Monday begins on Friday. Don’t end the week until you have a plan for how to start the next one.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/PeerCreative

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/PeerCreative

Why You Should Keep a Work Log

The Daily Record of Events was the hardest part of my Franklin planner to fill out. It was also the most useful to refer back to, if I did.

The prioritized daily task list and appointments were the easy part. They represented the plan. If everything went according to plan, then I would have a perfect record of what I did that day, and who I met with. When was the last time your day went exactly like you planned?

Your task list and calendar are an important part of your digital planning system. They’re your plan for the day. You should also keep a log of what you actually did. This look back at the day will help you get a better picture of what you’re doing with your time and get better at getting things done.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/daizuoxin

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/daizuoxin

Two Questions to Let Go of Bad Decisions

Would you scrap a project halfway through and start over? All the late nights, research, and tough decisions, undone. Go back to square one, now with half the time to do it in.

That’s exactly what I did with my senior design project in college. I wasn’t enjoying the project I had picked. My heart wasn’t in it. I dreaded working on it.

Over the holidays, I took the time to step back and reflect. Despite the time and effort I had already put in, I felt like I needed to do a different project—one that would play to my strengths and, honestly, one that I would care about. I got the necessary permission from my advisor, the department head, and the dean, and restarted a nine-month project with four months to go.

I had a blast working on the new project. I was engaged. I was excited. I was more than a little anxious about finishing in time (this was a graduation requirement) but I did complete the project on time and received very high marks for it. Restarting was the best thing I could have done, yet we’re often reluctant to go back and change a decision.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/strixcode

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/strixcode

The Right Task at the Wrong Time

If you golf, you know that sound. The sound of a club swinging through the air. The sound of a clean strike as the face of an iron connects with the ball. The sound of a ball hanging silently in the air as it decides whether it’s going to come back down.

My 9-iron made that sound. The shot felt right in my hand. It was a beautiful shot, straight towards the pin, and I made it look effortless. A 152-yard par 3, and if this had been my tee shot, I would have been tapping it in for an easy birdie.

The only problem was this was my third shot, and after two lousy shots that run along the ground, I was halfway to the green. What would have been a perfect shot off the tee ended up just as far away on the far side of the green, and now I had to work my way back.

There is an old saying in choirs: the right note at the wrong time is still the wrong note. As I so skillfully demonstrated, the right shot at the wrong time is just as wrong. And working on the right task at the wrong time? Also wrong.

iStock_000001833718

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/mavdesign

Five Email Addresses You Should Know

A hundred years ago, keeping a list of the six most important things you needed to do that day was a revolutionary idea. Then came calendars, diaries, journals, and planners to keep everything in one place. Now, your personal productivity system is a suite of applications and services that work together.

Sometimes, two apps will integrate seamlessly. iOS 8’s share sheets are a huge help here, because you can easily pass information to another app that supports it. Want to clip the selected text to Evernote? Read an article later? Remember to do something later? You’re just a few taps from being done.

Unfortunately, some apps either haven’t been updated to use share sheets, or the app developer wants to keep you in their walled garden. Fortunately, many popular services have an email address you can use to send information to yourself from anywhere you can send an email. If you use any of these services, you should keep these email addresses on hand.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/rvlsoft

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/rvlsoft