How does your day
If you're like any of the
millions of professionals worldwide who are perpetually plugged online, then it can range anywhere from manic to
maniacal. The tipping factor? Information overload.
Here are practical tips from an
obsessive-compulsive project manager living in a digital world:
Have a fixed number of
non-negotiables: whether it's your "1 Thing To Do Today" or "3 Musts This Morning," the objective is to keep
disciplined focus on a limited achievable list of tasks. Get your non-negotiables done as soon as you get to
work; your mind is still fresh from rest and is the least distracted. Come whatever new catastrophe through
the day, you can at least end it knowing you have completed critical tasks.
This idea of setting your mind
up for concentration should cross over to other business activities. For instance, in having conference
calls over digital portals such as Skype,
Google Voice, FaceTime, etc., it
would help to email an agenda prior to the meeting so everyone can stick to a maximum of 20 minutes per session.
What would even be better is to make sure that every meeting is necessary, and not just
Improve your Email
habits: either set time intervals (ie.
9:00AM-10:00AM/1:00PM-2:00PM/5:00-6:00PM) or allocate a certain length of time per hour (10 minutes of email
checking for every 60 minutes of work) to check and respond to emails. When working with global markets, being
familiar with the time zones can help prioritize which emails to address first so the other team gets it during
their work hours. Using your mail provider’s filters and labels can also help you organize it by
importance of sender address, nature of content, etc. You know what they say, garbage in-garbage out. Filtering
out the low quality sources can help prevent time-wasters.
Consider creating a dummy
email for those one-time sign-ups that are necessary but not something you want to keep - think about those
documents or features online you can only access after “Free Registration.” By having a separate account, you
are able to redirect any of followup emails that could be useful but are not urgent.
In responding to most emails,
think of how you would answer it if it were asked in person and avoid the compulsion to perfect every single
email. As much as possible, draft and send answers right away, rather than over-think things with multiple
re-readings of the email apart from the quick fact check and review. Send short, concise emails that get
straight to the (action) point.
Keeping yourself on track can be
made easier with the help of Leechblock,
StayFocused, and other extensions that help block distracting websites during your work
On top of helping cope with
information overload, there are many online tools to help improve work performance.
and Screenr can record
what goes on your screen for documentation, educational tutorials and other resource creation. These make
international training facilitation so much easier (not to mention cost effective).
management/coordination: Yammer, IBM
Newsgator all serve to provide practical platforms for information
dissemination/aggregation, activity streaming/updating, file sharing and even relationship building within the
For social media management:
whether of your personal/professional accounts or your company’s, look to applications like
and Rapportive to sort out and schedule pre-made posts/tweets/updates to help lighten
the load. Activate online alerts such as those that Google has, to track any media mention made of
For learning more, learning
smart: bookmark online knowledge bases relevant to you and your specialization/interests. Chances are,
the experts in your industry maintain their own websites/social media pages where they share their insights and
latest know-how. Or, there are people like yourself who believe in continuing their professional learning and
look to online communities such as profession-specific forums/boards, Quora, and the
These quick tips are pretty
handy, but as always, making the most out of it begins with knowing yourself well. Monitoring your work habits
offline can give you insight into your online tendencies - the same rules about your motivators, rewarding
yourself, peak performance periods, etc. apply here albeit at a .
In dividing up the 24 hours of
your day, make sure to recharge. Sleep deprivation in any form can negatively affect creative, cognitive,
and emotional ability. So make sure you get enough sleep each night, you’ll be more effective the next day. It
also won’t kill you to take that lunch break for yourself. In between work, choose to make your breaks
productive by cleaning your computer, schedule checking social media (to get that compulsion out of the way),
get exercise to induce work-enhancing endorphins, etc.
Leonov, D. “5 Ways to Get Email
Overload Under Control.” Mashable. 31 July 2012. <http://mashable.com/2012/07/31/email-overload-tips/> Accessed 20 August
Rangnekar, A. “5 Productivity
Hacks for the Startup CEO.” Mashable. 31 May
2012. <http://mashable.com/2012/05/31/productivity-hacks-ceo/>. Accessed 20 August
Schulte, E. “9 Simple
Productivity Tips You Can Do Right Now.” Fast
Company. 4 May 2012. <http://www.fastcompany.com/1836453/9-simple-productivity-tips-you-can-do-right-now>.
Accessed 20 August 2012.
Schwartz, T. “Six Ways to
Supercharge Your Productivity.” Fast
Company. 9 September 2010. <http://www.fastcompany.com/1687884/six-ways-supercharge-your-productivity>.
Accessed 20 August 2012.