Madalyn Holyfield-GawronskiAs we wrap up another year, it seems impossible that the clock is running down on 2017. Although this time of the year is exceedingly busy, it is a great opportunity to take inventory of the past 12 months: what have you accomplished, what goals are left on the table, and what goals do you have for 2018? One of the main things that comes to mind is increasing productivity.

In the political world (and most other sectors) there are two finite resources that you must manage well for success: time and money. Unfortunately, the modern world we operate in is full of pitfalls for time management and productivity.  You have probably looked at your phone, checked your e-email or let your mind wander to something totally unrelated since you started reading this. We are more distracted than ever, thanks to smart phones and the internet. So how do we find focus and commit to being more productive in the new year?

First, find the best organizational tool that works for you. It could be outlook, Google calendar, a little more old-fashioned pen and planner method – whatever fits your fancy. It’s important to find something that you can and will take the time to use daily to organize your to-do list, your time, and anything else that is important to your life.

Second, use your chosen tool and schedule out your entire work day. To increase productivity, we must learn to manage our own time better. Most of our schedules only reflect meetings but if we start each day with a plan of attack it will reduce distractions and procrastination. Include everything from lunch, working on specific projects, reading the news, returning phone calls and emails, and anything else that needs to be accomplished that day. Having the day scheduled not only keeps you focused, but it will clearly show if tasks are accomplished or not and allow you to make changes in the future.

Finally, fight every instinct and stay focused on whatever task is scheduled. Have you ever been working on a proposal or spreadsheet when an e-mail pops up and you stop what you’re doing, click on the notification and engage in whatever the e-mail is requiring? I am guilty of doing that all the time! After you go down the rabbit hole of the distracting e-mail and wander back to the original task at hand you have wasted so much time and energy by now having to restart the task. Checking and responding to emails is critical in the professional world, but if you build in a 30-minute block in the morning and the afternoon to handle them you will be able to remain focused throughout the day while still responding to emails in a timely fashion.

Making a few adjustments in scheduling, focus, and priorities in the new year can lead to getting a lot more done with less hassle. Cheers to a 2018 full of accomplished goals, happy clients, and efficient schedules!

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”  – Peter Drucker

Madalyn Holyfield-Gawronski is a senior associate at Sterling Corporation, an Lambert company.