Get Focused

Plan to make productivity a priority

(Family Features) Although there are many reasons to feel stressed in the workplace, productivity is often at the root. After all, productive employees are often perceived as the most valuable employees and when productivity fails, it tends to put everyone on edge.

Concerns about productivity are broadly founded. They may be related to your self-assessment of your own performance, or it could be that a manager is demanding more. Or maybe you’re collaborating with a team of peers and are struggling to find your footing, and collectively productivity is down.

Productivity is not only good for business; it’s good for worker morale, too. A productive work day can produce a sense of accomplishment and pride, and may result in a less stressful work environment. You can take a proactive role in improving your own productivity with these ideas.


1. Face a challenge head on. Procrastination can be the ultimate roadblock to productivity. For many, that means saving the least desired task on your to-do lists for the end of the day. However, by the end of the day, it’s too easy to delay the task until tomorrow. Instead, start the day with your least desired task. This is when you’ll have the most energy and you’ll kick off your day feeling accomplished, ready to tackle whatever comes next.

2. Be intentional with your time. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks can help you have a more productive day. When you feel your energy start to wane, give yourself a timeout. Take a 15-minute walk, run the stairs or spend some time drawing in your notebook. Over the course of a week, pay attention to your schedule and start to plan your meetings and tasks around breaks so you’re working during periods of the day when you’re the most energized.

3. Capture ideas when they come. Let’s face it: not every great idea arrives at the ideal moment. While it’s possible to key your ideas immediately into your smartphone, that can come with multiple obnoxious distractions. However, trying to recreate that flash of inspiration at a more opportune time more often than not falls short with missing details.

An option like the Bamboo Slate smartpad allows you to write naturally with pen on any paper without the social media notifications and email alerts. With the push of a button, you can then convert your handwritten notes into “living” digital files. With Wacom Inkspace, you can organize, edit and share your notes and sketches on your enabled smartphone, tablet or other devices. In case you’re not near your mobile device when inspiration strikes, you can store up to 100 pages on your smartpad and sync later. Learn more at

4. Identify areas for collaboration. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The key is knowing yourself well enough to know when you need to ask for help to be more productive. Wasting time on tasks you don’t excel in can slow everyone down. Rather, find others whom you can collaborate with and learn from to help you improve your productivity over time.

5. Stay organized. When you’re working under continuous deadlines, things can really start to pile up – literally. Digging through a mess to find the report containing the data you need or the invoice to cross reference is a waste of precious time. Allow the clutter to build during the work day if you must, but make it a goal to never leave the office without bringing some order to the day’s chaos. Coming in each morning to a desk that is de-cluttered and ready for the day ahead can be a big productivity booster.

Learn to Make Lists with Purpose

List-making has long been revered as the classic time management tool, and technology makes it easier than ever to blend this analog task with your digital world by using smart notebooks like the Bamboo Slate to create an online to-do list.

Consider these three list styles to determine the approach that best fits your work style to put you on your way to more productive days:

Categorized lists. Most people start with a daily to-do list, focusing just on the most urgent tasks for the day. Once you’ve mastered that approach, try looking ahead to the future to help you meet your goals. For this technique, you might consider an annual list or even a life list to help put the big picture in perspective and make it more manageable to accomplish your desires. Others go so far as to categorize their time to focus their attention on different types of tasks on different days.

To-do vs. done lists. Another option is to use lists to catalog both the items you need to do and those you’ve already completed. A “done list” can be a motivating factor in pushing forward with your to-do list by letting you see your accomplishments in writing.

Bullet journaling. The bullet journal approach is a four-step process designed to make the to-do list less of a chore and more efficient. A step-by-step guide shows you how to create more productive lists you can easily reference in the future.


Tips to Get Your Yard Summer-Ready

(Family Features) Although you may be itching to get back outside, before you can relax there’s work to do. After enduring the wear and tear of fall and winter, most yards need attention to get back into summer shape.

These tips from the experts at Sun Joe will help you clean up your entire yard in time for summer so there’s more time to enjoy the great outdoors:

  • Garden – Prepare your planting bed by using a tiller before seeding. Loosening up existing soil helps water and nutrients reach your new plants’ roots. Better yet, add some manure before tilling to create a healthy growing environment.
  • Trees – Spring and summer are all about new life and dead tree limbs hanging around your home can kill the mood. Instead of climbing up a rickety latter with clippers, keep your feet planted and use Sun Joe’s cordless Pole Chain Saw. This lightweight chainsaw allows you to saw off dead limbs and let gravity do the rest… just make sure to stand back using the 15-foot extension.
  • Mulch – Use the mild weather of spring before it gets too hot to lay down or freshen up the mulch around your plants. A thin (2-3 inches deep) layer of mulch around your landscape will help keep roots cool in the upcoming summer months and warm when cooler weather inevitably returns again.
  • Grass – When your grass is recovering from the long winter, you should wait until your soil dries out before starting work on your lawn because being too eager and working on soggy soil can harm already tender new grass roots. Once your grass is alive and growing, mow only once you need to – grass is at its healthiest if you cut no more than a third of the blade. Get your timing right and your neighbors will notice that the grass is always greener on your side.
  • Driveway/Patio – Over the winter months, mildew, grime, dirt and stains have grown in your outdoor spaces, reduced curb appeal and destroyed your yard. Sun Joe’s line of easy-to-use electric pressure washers can make your spaces look brand new, delivering thousands of pounds of water pressure to demolish every square inch of dirt from your driveway, your patio, your sidewalk and even your home’s siding.

For more inspiration and ideas for cleaning up your yard, visit

Sun Joe