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Being productive – 5 ways of staying on track

Motivational message on a post-it note saying "great work"

Dealing with a seemingly never ending to-do list and constant interruptions can seem overwhelming at times – read on to discover ways of thriving in a busy environment with this blog by Yvette Gyles, Director at =mc:


Staying productive is tricky. We all have moments in our day when our energy dips, or when we go off track and ignore the “to do list”. Perhaps we have been interrupted or distracted by a friend / colleague / email / tweet. Or perhaps we are putting off that thing we just don’t want to do, knowing it will be difficult or unpleasant. Perhaps we just don’t even know where to start.

At our recent Managing Multiple Priorities course, I asked our participants what they had learned about being productive. Their top tips might help you too. This is what they told me:

  1. Take a break – whether to get a coffee, tea or just some fresh air. If your energy is low, or you are stuck, step away from the situation. Doing something unnecessary just because it feels like it is productive, is not making the most of your time. A 10 minute break will refresh and energise you far more than filing some emails or trawling through the internet.
  2. Make a plan – and stick to it. If you get pushed off track, or get interrupted, your plan is your lifeboat. Cling to it, and it will save you. Make your plan prioritised and realistic.
  3. Break it down – if you don’t know where to start, don’t start at the start. List some ideas about possible routes you could take. Think about some 5 or 10 minute tasks that will get you going, and give you the momentum to continue.
  4. Make a choice – when bombarded with distractions, make a decision about what you will and won’t respond to. You have the ability.  The choice is yours. Try saying No, or Not Yet at least.
  5. Protect your time – if you really need to get your head down, do just that. Find a safe space, tell others you need a couple of hour’s peace, and crack on with the thing you need to do (and not something else).

And after all of that, give yourself a reward. You’ve been productive and you’ve earned that bar of chocolate!

What’s next?

If you want to know more about staying productive, check out our Managing Multiple Priorities programme. Or get in touch via phone on 020 7978 1516 to speak to one our experienced Learning & Development Consultants.


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Yvette Gyles

About Yvette Gyles

Yvette specialises in leadership, personal effectiveness, change and innovation. Before joining =mc, she worked in HR for several years in both the private and charity sector as an HR...