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Need Help pressing the restart button?

Here are a few tips:

1. Start with a single step.

Go through each item in your inbox one at a time. If you don’t have an inbox, collect all the piles from your work area into one mission control center. Use a sticky note to group like-actions together. For example, make notes labeled: read, email, file, review and sign. The new piles will be the beginning stages of order and won’t need to be sorted again. Once you’ve named everything, you’ll get rid of that fear that something unknown is going to blow up unexpectedly.

2. Use a helping hand.

When you can delegate, do it. Don’t let work that you don’t need to do pile up around you. Move it to someone else’s desk! Forward it to the appropriate person to keep the momentum and get that project done. Don’t be the bottleneck that causes the last minute, late night emergencies. But before you send it on its way, be sure you track what you are waiting for with a date stamp, the person’s name and what you need from them. You may get to hand it off, but you’ll also want some record of who, what, and when, in case you need to remind them to get what you need before the upcoming deadline.

3. Give yourself more time.

If you’re not going to be able to deliver on time, reset any deadlines that can be moved. You’ll have piece of mind if you communicate when you’re running behind giving everyone enough time to recalibrate their work. It may hurt at first, knowing that you have lost control of your system, but you avoid future emergencies by keeping everyone updated in advance. One way of avoiding the stress of unexpected deadlines is to make your schedule the first thing you look at when you start your day. Yes, that means looking at your calendar before checking email. Knowing what’s coming will help you prioritize what you do first.

4. Focus on your restart.

When you’re at the point where you need to build your productivity system back up, you’ll accomplish it by focusing on just that. Get back on the wagon by going cold turkey when it comes to surfing, scanning and chatting. If you give yourself 20 minutes to resurrect your system, you’ll be surprise how much you can get done. Turn off all of your flashing reminders, your phone and all the other gear that rings, sings and vibrates. You need less time than you think of solid uninterrupted focus to get back to the present.

Let’s face it; everyone’s productivity system ends up buried sooner or later. It’s your ability to get back to organized after falling off the wagon that will create some semblance of order and peace of mind that comes with having a system in place.

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