Maximizing Your Time and Workday Efficiency – Part 1


Read any good books lately? I’ve read like a ton (technical term). And I’m applying what I’m reading to my life and seeing some major changes. The books I’ve been reading are falling into the category of “making your life better, calmer and more enjoyable.” That’s a category, I promise. Three great books I would recommend reading immediately are:

  • The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris
  • What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
  • The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

I’m snagging the bits and pieces from each of these books that really speak to me and putting them into action. In an effort to get more organized, focused in my workday and maximize my time, I’ve created a list of 10 “Rules” that I’m implementing and they’re rocking my world. I’m breaking this post into 2 parts, because there is a lot here (come back next week for part 2). Of course, these are tailored to me personally, my profession and my individual situation. But a lot of them can be tweaked or applied to just about anyone and their work life. You may need to take a moment to open up your mind because a few of these are pretty radical and I want you to be prepared. Ready?


  1. Turn off all notifications on phone and computer. On my iPhone I control what notifications I get. So I turned them all OFF: E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Games, Calendar notices, tasks. All the sounds and pop-ups are gone. Of course I can turn them back on if I change my mind but for now, not having those things dinging at me all the time, popping up, lighting up or buzzing, gives me a sense of calm. Also, a word about Instant Messaging: Instant messaging is THE biggest time waster EVER. Wanna turn a 3 minute conversation into 30 minutes? Hop on Instant Messaging. No thanks! I swore off instant messaging a while ago and I’ll never go back. It’s just a distraction and takes your focus off what you’re supposed to be doing.
  2. Stop answering the phone, turn off voice mail notifications. I don’t get tons of phone calls so it’s not a huge deal for me if I pick up the phone when it rings, but knowing that I don’t have to answer it is amazing. You can turn off your phone ringer too! Try it, it’s liberating!
  3. Planning for tomorrow. Each day at the end of the day, I spend 5 minutes selecting up to, BUT NO MORE THAN 5, of the most important items to complete the following day, within reason, from my giant to-do list of everything I can think of that needs to be done. When I say within reason, you can’t have Design New Web Site on your to-do list and then expect to get it done in one day. Break up larger projects into small increments. Never select more than 5 items. And they have to be the MOST IMPORTANT things, not something “easy” to check off the list. Those are for later!
  4. NEVER “check” email. Let me clarify: There is no point in “checking” my e-mail just to see if there are new email messages if I’m not going to act on them right then and there. It’s pure time wasting. Are you just trying to see if you’re cool? If someone loves you? Stop it!
  5. First thing in the morning, dive right into a project. I do not check my email or messages or social media first thing in the morning. GASP!!!!! Take a minute to let that sink in. I go to my daily to-do list and work uninterrupted on one item for AT LEAST one hour or until it is complete before reading e-mail, answering phone messages or checking social media. What happens when you read your e-mail or listen to your messages? Someone else’s priorities get in the way of yours. Answering someone else’s questions get in the way of making progress. You already decided what you need to work on – do that. Don’t let e-mails and messages derail your plans for the day.

How are you feeling after that? Do you think you could change the way you are doing this? Are you shocked? Appalled? Inspired?

I’ll get how I do handle e-mail, messages and social media as well as tackling the rest of the to-do list and challenging myself with time limits in part 2 of this post which will be out next week. Until then, have a great weekend!

Part 2 of Maximizing Your Time and Workday Efficiency – Part 2

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  • JaimeMarch 15, 2013 - 9:38 am

    Interesting ideas. I’m excited for 6-10! Some of these clearly don’t work for some jobs (mine) but some definitely could make a difference in my day and how I organize my time and efficiency. For example I totally start my day with email/social media and sometimes that rolls downhill for way longer than is reasonable or necessary.ReplyCancel

    • CherylMarch 15, 2013 - 12:17 pm

      😉 just wait until you see part 2!!!ReplyCancel

  • Renee InglettMarch 15, 2013 - 2:01 pm

    I love #5! Look it’s 6:58 and I have been sucked into your fabulous list :)Although I have successfully risen, fed, and booted a 12 year old out the door for school. That feels like a “project” in and of itself some days.ReplyCancel

    • CherylMarch 15, 2013 - 8:16 am

      Thanks Renee. I know you have A LOT going on in your life! I mean seriously, how many times have you started your day with no plan and then you read your e-mail and someone has something THEY need from you and then your day goes on this trajectory that has nothing to do with anything??? I just got to the point where I said NO MORE! It won’t work for everyone in every type of job but it works for me 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Michelle MurthaMarch 15, 2013 - 2:16 pm

    Do you use any software to help you organize and keep track of your to-do list?ReplyCancel

    • CherylMarch 15, 2013 - 8:17 am

      Michelle, I don’t use any software per se. I do keep a lot of my organization on my iPad and in an app called UPAD. It’s an app where you can write notes (I have a stylus pen) and I keep track of all my lists and projects there. I am planning to do a post all about how I use that app. I couldn’t live without it!ReplyCancel

  • Chamonix Thurston-RattueMarch 15, 2013 - 7:55 pm

    awesome awesome awesome! so grateful for this advice. I’m going to put it into action asap 😉 u rock! xReplyCancel

    • CherylMarch 15, 2013 - 1:16 pm

      Yay – I’m glad you found something useful here!!!! Wait until you see 6-10!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy ZhangMarch 16, 2013 - 9:32 pm

    I can’t agree with you more on #4, and I personally find it so hard! It’s become a silly habit of mine to check email whenever I’m idle. I gotta work on changing that!ReplyCancel

    • CherylMarch 17, 2013 - 8:17 am

      I know! It’s so hard to resist looking at it at first!ReplyCancel

  • Simone SevenichMarch 18, 2013 - 10:26 am

    Really well written, good ideas – try to implement. I wait for 6-10! I can verleren lot of time, as planned! Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • CherylMarch 18, 2013 - 1:19 pm

      Thank you Simone!ReplyCancel

  • […] into this two-part post on maximizing your time and your workday, please check Friday’s post Maximizing Your Time and Workday Efficiency – Part 1. In that post, I set up the basis for this strategy I’m using to maximize my workdays and keeping […]ReplyCancel

  • Trish G. Parrish {TGP} Weddings & EventsMarch 26, 2013 - 12:05 am

    These are really great recommendations, Cheryl! I, too, subscribe to only checking my email twice a day (11AM and 4PM) and I have completely turned off push email notifications on my iPhone and MacBook. It’s made a world of a difference, especially in my productivity. However, I still struggle with allowing calls to go to voicemail. I also think it’s important to set proper expectations with clients when you conduct these type of time management/productivity/efficiency practices. I know many, including myself, value promptness.ReplyCancel

    • CherylMarch 26, 2013 - 7:56 am

      I totally agree. My phone doesn’t ring THAT much but if I’m in the middle of something, I’ll let a call go to voice mail. Phone calls can really get me going in the wrong direction with my day. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • […] Maximizing Your Time & Workday Efficiency – Part 1 […]ReplyCancel