Go Into Business Beast Mode With These Productivity Tips

Here are six essential habits that have gotten me to where I am today.

Photo: Nicole Smartt, Owner of Star Staffing; Credit: Courtesy Photo

We have all read books that tell us how important our time is, but most don’t simplify it in one page with vital tips. Well, I have.

I teach, praise and live by these techniques, which allow you to manage your time better — so you can invest more of it in developing yourself and your leadership.

Here are six essential habits that have gotten me to where I am today.


  1. Organize and simplify.

    Stay organized. Establish an office filing system and label files using a simple naming convention and keep files ordered alphabetically, numerically or chronologically. Keep important, frequently referenced documents in a specific folder. If you have implemented a paperless office, ensure “all electronic documents are named in a consistent, standardized manner and stored within a logical folder structure. This ensures that documents can be located quickly and easily.” (Source: American Bar Association) The less time you spend searching for paperwork, the more time you have to focus on important tasks. Taking the time to organize today, means time saved hunting for important information in the future.

  2. Multitask smarter.

    We live in a fast-paced world where people are continuously taking on more work than they can do. With certain types of multitasking you can accomplish a lot more. Let me be clear — it is very important not to multitask to the point where you lose focus. If you are on the phone with a client, you probably shouldn’t be typing an email. For instance, I get a lot of work done while at the gym. I get on the elliptical and spend the hour working the lower half of my body and sending emails at the same time. I’m still getting an incredible workout and I feel less stressed after the gym knowing I accomplished items on my to-do list.

  3. Write your to-do list the night before.

    A surprising number of very successful people share this productivity habit. Knowing what your workload will look like the following day will help you rest more easily. You’ll also be able to refer to it if you realize you’ve forgotten something overnight, and part of you will be thinking about the following day’s activities, helping you feel more prepared to meet unique challenges or new situations.

  4. Set aside personal time.

    When you’re done with work, be done with work. An unbalanced life isn’t healthy. Just like our bodies and minds need rejuvenation during sleep, our “work muscles” need time to rest, recuperate and ruminate on new information. Remember to commit as much time, effort and love into your non-work relationships as your work relationships (including time with yourself!).

  5. Turn off the TV. Invest in yourself.

    Instead of submitting to the urge to tune out in front of the tube, read. Whether you’re reading something that will directly help you improve your performance, strategy or outreach at work, or you’re reading a book strictly for pleasure, you’ll be doing yourself a great service. Our minds need new information, and from varied sources, to continue growing.

  6. Listen to audio CDs while driving.

    There is so much to learn. Audio books are readily available, both on CD and for download and that long commute could work in your favor. Start your day with a inspirational CD or motivational video to get you pumped up for work, or listen to an industry-specific talk to gain insight and new tools.

Remember, time management works a little bit differently for everyone. If you remember to take notes, streamline and use your time wisely, you’ll see your time management — and outlook — improve.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Nicole Smartt is the Vice President and co-owner of Star Staffing. She was awarded the Forty Under 40 award, recognizing business leaders under the age of 40. In addition, Nicole co-founded the Petaluma Young Professionals Network, an organization dedicated to helping young professionals strive in the business world. Connect with @StaffingqueenN on Twitter.


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