Ever feel overwhelmed at work? For me, it’s more of a surprise when I get through a workday without feeling totally stressed out. As an account executive, it’s my job to not only make sure my clients feel taken care of, but also to make sure my co-workers in the creative department feel like they have what they need to succeed. When your days are spent trying to keep both sides of the equation moving – and relatively happy – it can be easy to let stress overtake your productivity. When it really becomes crunch time, use these five tips to help you stay focused:
Use a pen. I get it. When all anyone talks about is how “we’re living in the digital age now,” it might seem silly to rely on a pen and paper to help you maximize your production, but hear me out. It’s not productive to spend time searching through your email inbox for a due date/project number/detail/you name it. Things like attaching sticky notes to your computer monitor, writing down deadlines on a physical calendar or keeping a whiteboard with project numbers to reference all help you keep important details where they need to be – right in front of you.
Make a to-do list. Every morning, no matter how busy or slow I am, I make a to-do list. As a non-coffee drinker, this is my version of a “morning routine.” I take my time and write down everything that I want to do that day. Big projects, briefings, lunch dates and even small tasks like “submit your timesheet” all go on the list. If I can get what I need to do in writing, then I don’t have to think as hard about what needs to be done throughout the day. Don’t worry about going in order, or knocking out tasks based on how hard they are. Just start with one and then tackle another. By the end of the day, you’ll likely have accomplished more than you thought you could. Bonus: being able to physically cross something off a to-do list is one of the greatest feelings ever.
Don’t let email dictate your day. It can be easy to get sucked into the rhythm of responding to emails, but don’t let your desire to have a clean inbox derail your plans for the day. Get through the important emails, and then get to work.
Limit how much time you spend on something. I once spent two hours trying to perfect an internal spreadsheet. Yes, it was a task that had been given to me by a superior, but my choosing to obsess over making it perfect wasn’t the best use of my time. My advice: Try to track and limit how much time you’re spending on any particular task. If you find that it’s taking you more than an hour to do a task, then take a break and start on something else. You can always come back later with fresh eyes.
Take a break. Even on the busiest of days, everyone deserves at least some downtime. Don’t feel guilty for heading into the kitchen to make yourself a snack, or for spending 15 minutes scrolling through Instagram. Taking time to give your brain a break is essential to helping you make it through a long workday.