Six Steps to Boost Your Productivity

By Grace Marks
Special to the Times

May 1, 2014

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We all have those days when it's hard to get going and perform at our peak. Diet, exercise, attitude, rest, and sleep can all play a role; however, sometimes it could just be the size of your to-list.

When overwhelm and stress set in, productivity can take a back seat to priorities. It's easy to get distracted chatting with co-workers, checking out social media, or playing games on the computer.

Here are six steps to stay productive and get back on task.

1. Chunking -- breaking down your task into manageable pieces. For example, if you have to prepare the budget, break down the steps into manageable tasks each day so you feel productive and continue to make progress.

2. Stop multi-tasking. Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking doesn't save time. Research has shown some people are less efficient when they multitask because it takes longer to finish two projects when you are jumping from one to the other. Experts estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40 percent loss in productivity, so do your best to work on one project at a time.

3. Eliminate distractions. If you have a pressing deadline or a project that requires focus and concentration, close your email and instant messaging so you don't hear the chime. Ask co-workers for their support so you can focus on what's at hand.

4. Monitor email and the Smartphone. Constantly checking email or your smartphone is a productivity killer. Mindless checking, especially of your smartphone can become a habit, compulsion, and even addiction. It takes 4 minutes to get focused and back on task.

5. Prepare a to-do list for the day. Write your to-do list for the next day before you leave work or write it when you come in. Itemize tasks and prioritize them. This will help you focus and feel more productive having items checked off. If you didn't complete everything, re-prioritize for the following day.

6. Work in 60-90 minute intervals. Your brain needs a rest after you have spent most of 60 to 90 minutes using it. If you are feeling burnt out throughout the day, take 5-minute rest and recovery breaks to stretch, grab a healthy snack, or just go outside and breathe. You will feel more refreshed and productive.

Productivity can be challenging at times, but you can be in the driver's seat by organizing, prioritizing, allowing time for rest and recovery, and doing your best to avoid distractions.

Grace Marks, MPH, CPC, is a certified life coach, motivational speaker, stress management instructor, and workplace makeover specialist with Native Empowerment: Solutions for Health and Harmony providing customized training programs for tribal organizations and businesses. If you have any questions or comments, or have ideas for future health columns, please direct them to or visit

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