A sense of urgency is healthy when a pressing task is at hand. If the reports are due tomorrow, you bet your bottom dollar they’ll be done and polished by the end of the day today. Opening my notebook to my checklist, prioritized tasks jump out at me like a pop-up book. When the caffeine kicks in, or when anxiety’s arms embrace me, everything is to be done by lunch; no breaks and no exceptions.

A cluttered checklist sets me over the edge from positive productivity to pessimistic procrastination. My eyes twitch from monitor to monitor, trying to make sense of the internet windows open and open ended randomized tasks…

Update my LinkedIn.

Find prices for Hamilton tickets.

What is a bounce rate?

Tune into On-Point with Tom Ashbrook.

How do I make this text two columned?

Change my profile picture… wait, why?


With enough practice, I have overcome this chaotic loop with some simple steps.

  1. Lower the coffee intake

I know, I know; how dare I suggest you put down your cup of “can-do” potion. I’m not saying get rid of it entirely, but take it one day at a time. Choose one day of the week where you won’t drink coffee. The next week, two days, and so on. Dependency is only good for tax forms, babies, and healthy relationships. Don’t want to give up coffee? Drink more water. It’ll keep you better hydrated which is overall better for your mind and body.

  1. Wake up earlier

There is something majestic, whimsical almost, about the early morning hours. The stillness creates a calming air that eliminates the sense of urgency. The earlier you wake, the more time you have to get ready. Waking up just to rush to work can put strain on your psyche, so why not treat yourself to time?

  1. Find the time for gym time

Apparently, sitting is the new smoking. The average 9 to 5 job requires you to sit hours on end in front of a computer screen. Where does the energy go that our body naturally produces? Does it go to breathing and typing? Simply put, yes. If you are not exerting your spare energy by doing, say, twenty minutes of cardio or weightlifting, where is your energy going?

  1. Cut the crap (crappy food, that is)

Now I’m not saying jump on a multifaceted, complex diet. Start small. A good rule of thumb is to cut out the C’s: carbs, candy, and cola. Carbohydrates take longer for your body to digest, henceforth carbo-loading the night before a long morning run. Too many can also make you very sleepy after you eat, causing you to loose valuable focus. Candy and cola are packed with sugars that can make you jittery and anxious.

  1. Turn off notifications

To achieve pro-level productivity, all distractions must be eliminated, especially the sporadic “buzz buzz” we’ve all come to know and love (and dread). The silence is unusual at first. With notifications off, you will be drawn to unlock, select, and open your desired social media apps substantially less. Two apps that I have muted; SnapChat and Messages. Since no urgent news arrives in those communication boats, why let them sail away with your attention? Besides, Mom’s most likely not going to Snapchat you that she has fallen and can’t get up.

Everybody is different, there’s no doubt about that. If these tips to keep on task don’t work for you, don’t sweat it. Do a little bit of research, explore the possibilities, and don’t get discouraged.