6178168482_37ab536ce9_oIt’s Monday at 9 a.m. and you are already stressed. Instead of enjoying a relaxing weekend, you spent the last two days stewing about the crazy week ahead of you. Now that you are sitting at your desk, your mind is racing on how get the most done in the shortest amount of time.

Before hyperventilating, take note of the following tips from Cathy Sexton, productivity strategist and coach at The Productivity Experts, and watch your list disappear in no time.

Clear your desk

You desk should be clear of all distractions every day, says Sexton.

“When you have 30 things on your desk, all of that stuff is subconsciously talking to you and taking your energy,” she notes. “If you clean off your desk and organize, you will feel tremendously more focused.”

Dump your brain on paper

Do you have so much on your mind that you can’t figure out what to do first? If so, Sexton recommends writing everything in your head out on paper. The process of distilling your thoughts into written words will calm you down and help focus your energies.

Make a master list

Instead of coming into work and making a 20-item to-do list, pick the three or five most important items on the list and focus on them for the day.

“Once you get those done, focus on something else,” Sexton says. “When we have 20 things on our list, we pick and choose what we want to do and then end up getting wrapped up in non-essential things.”  

Set a timer

Setting a timer can be an incredibly useful tool in tracking how many minutes/hours you are spending on work related tasks vs., say, checking your Facebook page.

“Set a timer for 30 to 45 minutes and no more than 90 minutes at a time,” Sexton suggests. “Stand up and take a short break after the timer goes off, then write down your activities in a log to help you track what you are doing at what time.”