Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Productivity hacks

I've had a lot of people ask me how I was able to graduate with honors from a rigorous MBA program while parenting a young child and getting promoted in my career. I made a few missteps along the way, but ultimately I've learned a lot about efficiency and delegation in that almost two-year time frame. I will summarize it here in the hopes you glean a tip or two that helps you.

My favorite app for managing my school notes is Evernote. I organized my notebooks by semester with tags for course names and subjects. You can use Evernote to photograph and record, too. The app also works great for saving tax information like charitable receipts; just tag them with taxes and the year.

I save any emails of appreciation in a Thank You email folder, and I use this to track my work accomplishments in a quarterly basis. I include verbal feedback using the Job Journal format suggested by the Essential Pay Raise workbook for Women at Work Options (please note my affiliate status).

Managing your to-do list, rather than letting it manage you, is a tricky proposition. I use the built-in task list on my iPhone for stuff that needs to get done but not this week. I schedule items such as making a phone call into my daily schedule in Outlook.

For my overall areas of focus at home, school or work, I employ Peter Bregman's 18 minutes 6-box to-do list. The format keeps me on track. I re-do it every week or so, rather than every day.

Another time management tool I love is the Pomodoro technique. I was able to write the draft of all of my graduate school essays in 1 25-minute period of focus. I still had to revise them, but it took a lot less time than if I hadn't set a timer.

Another cool tool I've used with success is Doodle. This easy scheduling tool allows you to pick the optimal date for an event among many busy people without sending 50 emails back and forth.

What time management tools do you find most effective?

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