priorities; focus; productivity; time management

Image credit: Negative Space

Spring in Canada often leaves us shaking our head. One day, it’s 30 °C+ (86 °F) and we are swimming and eating popsicles. The very next day, we’re scrambling to pull out our gloves again and bracing for a day of flurries.

But thankfully, the sunny days are officially here to stay (at least for now). And we are as motivated as ever to soak up each last ray of sunshine. Here’s how to ensure you have the time for that.

1. Eat your frog: Start your day with a plan about the things that must get done that day. And push yourself to eat your “frog” first. Your frog is your most dreaded task, and the longer it sticks around, the longer your day. Eat this first and the rest of your day will be so much easier.

2. Take your work outside: Who says all our work needs to be done inside? My laptop and Smartphone make working anywhere possible. All I need is a picnic table and a large hat and I’m as content to power through both big projects and random emails.

3. Embrace walking meetings: Nilofer Merchant’s Tedx Talk inspired me to embrace walking meetings, and these are a great way to head outdoors. The fresh air will likely boost creativity. You’re also more likely to spend a few more minutes getting to know your colleagues, which is important for high-performance teams. If you need to take notes, take a tablet or notepad. Or dictate reminders into your cellphone. Don’t get yourself stuck in a stuffy boardroom.

4. Manage your interruptions: Interruptions have a way of hijacking our day. Don’t leave email open all day; let unscheduled calls go to voicemail; close your door. Check messages and follow-up with people between your planned tasks and you’ll be amazed at how much more you get done.

5. Take a lunch! Lunch seems to be a foreign concept these days. People seem to think that skipping lunch will help to fast-track their day, but I disagree. Breaks are critical. In the same way a professional athlete recovers after intense shifts, your brain benefits from some downtime. After a refreshing patio lunch, you’ll be raring to go and more focused. And to keep your brain sharp in the afternoon, wait until the evening for the cocktails.

6. Make plans: As Parkinson’s Law tells us, work expands to fill available time. If you have no specified end-time for your workday, you will undoubtedly stay longer than intended. Challenge yourself to leave the office earlier in the summer. If you normally leave at 5pm, try 4:30 pm until Labour Day rolls around. Take an earlier train. Book a session with your fitness trainer. Make a date with your teenager.

7. Arrange for coverage: Book your vacation and line up back-up coverage with your fellow sun-seekers. Make a plan and don’t letsummer slip away without making the most of it.

That sums up my list. What are your secrets? As someone who has spent far too many days sitting behind a desk, I’d love to hear your ideas. Please share in the comments below