Tips for Working Efficiently When You Aren’t Feeling Efficient

I took this photo last Saturday while making Snickerdoodles for a picnic (an indoor picnic).  This photo encapsulates me at my worst, and makes me question why I have never been diagnosed with ADD.  First off, I decided to make cookies only that morning for a picnic that day.  Whilst making them on a time crunch,  there was a need to take a picture of “Happy Boy Margarine” I may or may not have intentionally purchased from our corner Bodega.  I was also somehow trying to finish folding laundry, clean my apartment and figure out how to get myself into downtown Manhattan on a weekend when the A train runs on the F line – plus find time for grooming since it wasn’t even noon and I was drenched in sweat.  That might also be a bottle of wine on the table.  I promise that being flustered that day didn’t lead me to “drinking while baking” – it just happened to be the only provision I could provide for the picnic because I got my timing wrong and did not end up baking cookies.  Flustered Saturday mornings will happen (did I mention it was over ninety degrees and we don’t have air conditioning?) but using time efficiently makes a difference in your professional and personal life.  There are a few tricks I have picked up throughout the years but if all else fails, you really just need to fake it until you make it.

Work environment

  • Airplanes and airports are great places to get work done.  You have hours of uninterrupted time and no wi-fi to distract you.  Speaking of which…
  • When working at home, turn off the wi-fi and other distractions like Rdio, Hulu and conversations with your roommates.

Staying focused

  • When you have ideas for blog entries, write them as drafts asap with thought starters.  Keep one thought per post – you’ll produce more entries.
  • When writing to-do lists, first write down everything you need to do, in no order.  Write next to it when it’s “due”.  Rewrite the list on a different paper in order of when everything is due.  Then reorganize by how much time it will take or priority.  Sometimes I like to finish quick tasks before taking on longer projects, sometimes I want to switch it up.  I’m sure someone somewhere already created this in digital form but I need to develop some habit that excuses my klepto-like nature of snagging free notebooks.

Being prepared

  • Pack your bag the night before.  I only say this out of experience.  I too often pack  in the morning – and not just to go to the gym or to work.  I have actually packed the morning of a flight that started a week-long vacation.  I bet my mom is having a heart attack as she reads this.  I promise I will not do so for my sister’s wedding next week.
  • Do not make last-minute decisions.  You should decide on a recipe, make weekend plans, create a grocery list and known what trains aren’t running in advance.

Getting Organized

  • Make a home for it.  If you have 35 extra notebooks lying around, put them in a box.  If you are constantly searching for that tiny bottle of super glue and it’s always in the spice cabinet, put it in an area with other home stuff.  This is smart and also safe.  You do not want to put super glue anywhere where you expect everything to be edible.
  • Do not put things off. A few entries ago I talked about Choosing Smart Daily/Weekly Habits.  There are some things that if you don’t do them everyday, it becomes a mountain that becomes impossible to conquer.  For instance, if I don’t go through my email everyday, I get so far behind I need to block an entire Sunday afternoon to check through all 500 new inbox messages I acquired throughout the week.  Yes I know about filtering (!) but I honestly rarely look at folders afterward, so I like to deal with messages in my inbox dead on.

Above all, there will always be someone more/less organized and focused than you are.  It doesn’t allow you to be envious of their organizational talents (how do they remember EVERYONE’S birthday?) but does give the opportunity to dream of the possibility “I do not always have to be a mere mortal, I too can be a god of efficiency.”

3 thoughts on “Tips for Working Efficiently When You Aren’t Feeling Efficient

    1. but by reading it, do you think you could be more efficient from now on?

      I still make it a priority to leave plenty of time in the day to read and basically dilly dally.
      And always on Mondays.

      How are you? How was the gallery opening last week? I wanted to go but I have had to purchase too many plane tickets this summer!

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