• Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

5 Ways to be More Productive in the Smart Zone

A few weeks ago I ran the first 5K I've run in a long time. Many of you know I trained triathletes in my undergraduate school years and used to be quite the "Work Out Queen." But now I'm more of the "At Work Queen" and my running days have been shortened to fast gym workouts and early morning dog walk jogs.

Sam at 5K Run

I ran the race with my youngest son Sam and my oldest Alex. I actually had to stop running and walk part of the race. I was really disappointed when I had to stop and walk. But after walking a few minutes and catching my breath I was able to start back up and finish the race running strong.

This is such a metaphor to how a day can be. It starts off productive and then something happens to break your stride and your productivity all goes to "Hell in a handbasket," as my oh so sweet grandmother, Ga Ga, used to say. Just because you get derailed in the middle of the day doesn't mean you can't course-correct.

People in the Smart Zone use their emotional intelligence to get back on track. Know your weak spots for when you are about to get derailed so that you finish your day running strong. Use these 5 Smart Moves to get more done this week:

  1. Sleep in your work-out clothes. It's so difficult to get out of a warm bed for morning exercise but a morning walk or jog will help you feel better the rest of the day. Eliminate the step that keeps many of us from getting out of bed by sleeping in your work-out clothes. Keep your shoes, your water bottle, and your keys by the front door for an added time saver.

  2. Clean off that desk. When I'm having trouble concentrating or getting things done it often helps to focus on a single mindless task. Your brain doesn't have to work so hard and you'll feel a relaxation response in the rest of your body. Plus, having a clear work space means you actually accomplish one thing that day!

  3. Don't try to make use of the time you save. Managing your time is really about managing your energy and attention. Resist the urge to cram in more "stuff" when you've found a way to save time. Instead use the extra time do something creative, read or just sit (it really is okay to just sit!).

  4. Stop obsessively checking your emails and text messages. Guilty! With 3 kids in 3 different schools and 2 businesses to run, I can get caught up in checking on everything. If you've read any books on productivity then you know that checking email at prescheduled times each day will help you get more done by not getting bogged down.

  5. Sit up straight and open the blinds. Be mindful of your posture and the light in the room. Bad posture causes your body to work harder to oxygenate your blood which makes you feel tired. Poor lighting causes you to strain and causes "tired eyes."

I'm so glad that Sam, Alex and I participated in the 5K together. They enjoyed it and so did I. We plan to do more. So much more works out the way you want it to when you work in the Smart Zone.

By the way, I reveal how I "do it all" in this Leadership Plano Alumni article. You'll also learn my nickname!

I've also listed a few more Smart Moves in this article on how to manage your emotions under pressure in the Fall issue of the Texas Credit Union League's LoneStar Perspectives magazine.