Managing Mondays: More Done in Less Time

How are you possibly going to get everything done today? The answer is simpler than you might think: It’s Focus.

We have all been there: that place of dread; that place of being overwhelmed; that place where life seems a bit too challenging. It may be a mounting pile of work, a project needing completion, or a customer presentation that you have not even started to put together. You may be thinking you are up against an impossible mission. You may feel like giving up. But I am here to tell you that you can make it through by effectively using the right set of tools.

So don’t give up! I have that useful tool for you! You can overcome your obstacles; just stay focused!

Getting Started

Take time to clear your head and relax so you can start with a clean slate and concentrate. Many people find by allowing yourself a calm before the storm that it allows you to enter into your project with a clear head focused on the your desired outcome. For me it could be reading a book and having a cup of coffee. Others may go for a walk, hit the gym, or read the morning paper. Do whatever works for you. By allowing your mind to calm, you are preparing it for what lies ahead.

Getting in the zone!

As you prepare to take on your day be sure:

  • The location is free of disruptions.
  • You have everything that you need.
  • You are prepared for success.

I will grab something to drink and go into my office and close the doors. I’ll tune to my favorite internet radio station, sit at my desk, clear away any distracting clutter and organize for the day. Something like this may work for you, but the most important thing is that you settle on a starting point that works for you.

Sometimes all it takes is a change of location to really focus. There are times that I have packed up my laptop and found a far corner of the local library for some distraction-free concentration.

Some people enjoy having music on in the background, others do not. I find music gets me in the zone and allows me to zero in on my task. Whether it be music, a change of location, or something else, determine what works for you and make it happen.


Task List:

It’s best to keep a task list of some sort be it electronica note pad, or just a scrap of paper that you write your “to do’s” on.

Prioritize and Schedule:

Prioritize your task list  by sorting them into urgent, important and non-urgent tasks. If you have trouble prioritizing, use the 80/20 rule (aka Pareto’s law) to determine what the important tasks are.

Staying on Track:

Now you have prioritized your day and determined the first item on your list, break it into small pieces. As you do this it will make a large task seem less daunting. And as you accomplish each piece of your plan, you will build momentum as you move throughout the day.

“Your daily schedule helps to focus the mind, holds it steadily to one thing at a time and in the right order. Following a logical sequence tends to eliminate confusion.”

Keep a stringent schedule for your day:

As mentioned, I take time in the morning for relaxation so that I can come into the day focused. I move right into my projects and phone calls, check and respond to email before lunch, come back and work on other projects and phone calls. Then I check email an hour before the day is over, review my next day, prioritize, clear my desk of clutter and I am ready to start the next day with a clean slate.

Whew! Seems challenging, but it works every time!

Not everyone is the same, so when you find a method that works for you, stick with it. Soon you will see that you will be getting more done in less time by using focused planning and execution.

More Tips:

  • Only check email twice per day. This is not easy to do, but is productive.
  • Let your calls go to voicemail knowing that you can get back to the callers when you decide to break.
  • Don’t multitask. Multitasking has been proven time and again to be the cause for lack of focus. It is counterproductive. When you multitask, you never do anything well.
  • Inundated with random thoughts? Keep a notebook, task list, or sticky note pad near by. As I am working I have stack of index cards I use. If something pops into my head I write it down knowing the thought is saved there on the index card for later and I don’t mentally have to keep coming back to it.
  • Schedule time for future tasks. As new tasks present themselves, put them through Pareto’s Law, prioritize them, and schedule them for the future.
  • Rest, eat appropriately and exercise. It has been found these habits are contribute greatly to your level of concentration.

How are you going to accomplish more today?

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Jason Christensen is National Accounts Manager for The Stanley Works.
He can be reached at

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