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Certain Habits Can Improve Office Efficiency

Democrat and Chronicle, 2/8/11
Dorothy Madden

Habits happen. Some we just have. Some we don't want to have. Some we would like to have to help us be our best.

One of my habits is reading the Democrat and Chronicle at breakfast, and, because I have a home office, sometimes also at lunch. One snowy morning in January, the plow "ate" my paper and left me without my usual reading material. How odd the entire day seemed: empty, uninformed, disconnected. It was then I acknowledged that reading the paper was a daily habit I unconsciously took for granted.

Whether you work at home or away from home, are you aware of your workplace habits? Are there some you would like to change or eliminate? Are there new ones you would like to create? Are you motivated to make it happen?

Here are some habits that can help you become more efficient, effective and productive:

Organize your day the night before. Clear off your desk at the end of every day. Jot down a list of items you want to accomplish the next day and number your top three priorities. Tackle those three priorities before doing other items.

Work in blocks of time. Designate two to four blocks each day to read and reply to e-mails and to make and return phone calls. Return e-mails and phone calls within 24 hours. Schedule an uninterrupted block of time to focus on your top priority.

Streamline your process with paper and e-mail. Ideally, handle each document once. Designate a home for each document you need to keep. Make decisions about what needs to be handled immediately versus what can wait. Schedule time for those projects that can wait.

Lastly, consider this quote from the great distance runner Jim Ryun: "Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." Keep on going with your great workplace habits.