by Christine Winter, PR/marketing programs manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company

Google Doodle logo in honor of Les Paul's 96th Birthday, June 9, 2011

To be quite honest, focus and time management does not come easily to me – I really have to work at it. I’m a natural procrastinator, I quickly forget, and I’m distracted very easily. (Yes, I contributed a few minutes to the 5.35 million hours spent strumming the guitar strings on the Les Paul Google doodle on June 9th) So, how do I manage to accomplish anything as part of my multi-faceted public relations/marketing/social media job?

Well, for one, I start each day with a nice cup of hot (sometimes iced) hazelnut coffee while I read and respond to each new email in my inbox – one by one. Very rarely do I skip over one that requires action, in fear that I will forget about it if it gets too far down the list. If one doesn’t require a response, I move it to the proper archive folder. If it’s a Google Alert, I pay special attention to any media coverage and/or appropriate industry news. Of course, there are still a few emails left behind (and even some I completely ignore, according to Xerox’s Business of Your Brain app), but I flag the ones that are most important and need attention in less than a week.

Next, I check my calendar so I’m prepared for any meetings and aware of the spare time I have to focus on ongoing projects. Then, I login to TweetDeck for my morning dose of tweets, XMPie mentions, direct messages, and search results. I do this multiple times throughout the day. It’s one of my favorite tools for managing the Twittersphere, but the Facebook Web client is good enough for me. After all this is done, I go right to my to-do list and “star” the items I plan to accomplish that day based on the due date/approval process – and I keep it real. Sometimes it’s only one item, and other times it’s up to five or seven items, especially if they are small projects that I can knock out before lunchtime.

When something unexpected and urgent pops up – and it always does – I put it on a sticky note or create a calendar appointment in Outlook so I get reminder notifications. Yes, sometimes I treat them like my alarm clock and hit snooze numerous times, but nevertheless, I always get to it at some point that day. And when I don’t have time or the patience to wait for an email response, I pick up the phone or user interoffice chat or Skype to “ping” my co-workers. Instant messaging can be a lifesaver!

It’s these tricks and quirks that help me stay productive at work so that, most of the time, I don’t have to take it home with me. But, there’s always room for improvement. Do you have any advice for someone like me?

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#FocusFriday is a weekly conversation helping people with productivity in the office.  Posts can be at the same time fun and serious, in the spirit of the Xerox’s Business of Your Brain app, yet always focused on what matters most, Real Business.