Missed a Few Days at Work? 5 Hacks to Get Back on Track

Best Practices, Leadership

Sometimes you’re on the road for the entire MONTH of October, or at least it feels like it. Actually, I wasn’t gone that many days, it was the trips that killed me. I know lots of folks like Bill Boorman, Stacy Zapar, Shane Gray and Deb McGrath are on the road a whole lot more than I am. Still, I am a baby.

Anyway, while I was gone my team did an amazing job of handling everything I usually do when it comes to day to day tasks, but there was still an avalanche of meetings, phone calls, emails and notes to go through. Add to that, my assistant left my disorganized ass and I have all these business cards to go through! So…what’s the game plan?

Missed a few days of work? Check out these 5 hacks to get your work life back on track. Click To Tweet

Sort email smarter.

When there are 8,694 emails to sort through, you simply cannot check every one. While Gmail has some great tools for archiving and tabbing emails, you’ll also break it if you try to mark everything as read (I know, I tried). Instead, I starred important messages while on the road and went through and answered those first the night before coming into work. Then, when I got back into the office (and a desktop), my husband wrote me a simple script to put in my gmail search bar, so I could bring emails that weren’t internal to the top of the pile. I archived all promotional messages and those from social networks (actually I turned the social network ones OFF). Then, I marked what remained as read so I could search it. Finally, I requested the team send an email with their most urgent needs with the title OCTURGENT so I could sort them faster and get to their needs. Boom.

 

Make a list for heaven’s sake.

Whether you use evernote, todoist or a #6things Red Branch Media notepad, get yourself a solid list. The 6 Things model isn’t random, I stole it from a The Muse template with 1 big thing, 3 medium tasks and 5 little things (but at RBM, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs so we modified to 1, 2, 3). You can include general tasks like “respond to all new biz submissions” on this list or make it totally specific such as “rewrite T & Cs for proposals”. Whatever it is though, if you need to get it done that day, write it down or make a note. And this is important…don’t do anything that is NOT on the list. Here’s why.

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to do list

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Ignore people.

This one is so hard. My team worked their butts off to make sure everything went smoothly while I was away, so ignoring their needs during the first few days was tough, but essential. Instead of making them wonder if I was pissed, I told them right off the bat that I would be under a pile of work for the next few days and to please hold on a little longer. I asked my assistant to reschedule calls and saved decisions and tasks that could wait for a later date until…later. If your team NEEDS to speak to you, ask them to put it in an email and schedule time with you later.

Plot your strategy with this handy quad.

Not sure where something falls in the importance category? Use this handy Eisenhower quadrant that I may just get tattooed on my wrist (wait, no room, my forearm then). It helps me determine what is not important but maybe not urgent or vice versa. What do you do when something is neither important NOR urgent? You guessed it. DELETE!

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Chunk your time.

You’ve heard it from thousands of productivity experts and I’ll say it too. Work on the task at hand. Turn off email, the company intranet, facebook and twitter and just get down to business. You will finish faster and stay more focused. You may even finish work early enough to go out with actual friends! Win-Win! Keep your social and email time to 3 40 minute chunks throughout the day. Mine are: First thing in the AM, just after lunch and one hour before I leave the office.

Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash

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