We’ve all been there: You walk into the office on a Monday morning to find your to-do list for the day is longer than the stream of comments on a new One Direction video. (They’re still a thing, right?) The struggle is especially real around mid-afternoon when the caffeine in your bloodstream has run dry and the thought of watching yet another
clip of Kendall Jenner at Paris Fashion Week cat video on YouTube doesn’t seem half bad.
So how can you keep your productivity levels up on a hectic day in the office?
Get some inspiration from CareerBuilder executive Scott Helmes, who dishes on his morning routine and spills the secrets to staying productive even in a slump.
Here’s our Q&A with Scott, managing director at CareerBuilder.
How do you stay productive throughout the day? What are your top 3 productivity tips?
2. Todoist.com (or the app)
3. I get up and take a walk over lunch. Get out of the office and get some fresh air.
How much caffeine do you consume on a daily basis?
Two coffees, then nothing but water.
Are you a morning person or do you not speak to anyone until you’ve had your coffee?
Three questions in, and I’m mentioning coffee for the third time. I’m definitely better after 9:30 a.m.
You have a big day — starting with a presentation at 9 a.m. What would be on your playlist that morning?
I am all podcasts all the time. While getting ready in the morning, I stream on the NPROne app. My commute is usually yesterday’s Fresh Air podcast, This American Life, Planet Money or, my latest obsession, Switched on Pop.
What do you do to get your energy levels up and stay focused?
I try to take a break and get a quick walk in — even if it is just to get a glass of water once an hour.
If I don’t make time to stop and clear my head, my energy will definitely fall.
If you haven’t started your day off on the right foot, what do you do to turn it around?
I’ll change the scenery. I will simply pack up my laptop and move to a new location — either a common area in the office or a coffee shop.
What can you not go without saying or doing for even a day?
Checking something off my to-do list.
Sometimes work is unpredictable — your day can quickly get away from you, and soon it is the end of the day and you haven’t gotten to the work you need to complete. Rather than head home, I’ll tack on 10-15 minutes to at least get through one or two items from my to-do list. It’s amazing how much better I feel knowing I at least got one thing done!
Do you think you could survive without your phone for a day? Would it improve or decrease your productivity?
Absolutely not! It’s my book, assistant, entertainment and computer. Before there were smartphones, I used a palm pilot — so we’re talking about 15-plus years of connectivity here.
How do you get your daily news? Newspaper? Local news? Morning shows? Twitter? Other?
Podcasts and social media. Before I’m even out of bed, I am streaming news to see what happened the night before. Twitter and Facebook definitely provide a quick snapshot of what’s controversial or new in the worId. After working abroad for seven years, I have a fairly geographically diverse social media group spread across the U.S., Asia and Europe — so you definitely want me on your pub quiz team.
What are your hours typically like? Are you more 9-to-5 or are you always on? Do you have the mentality that work/life is constantly blended? How do you shut off over the weekend?
Unfortunately, I’m always on Monday through Friday, but I really try to unplug over the weekend and while on holiday. I don’t think work/life has to blend for everyone — and don’t expect it to do so for my colleagues. However, with global teams I do try to take advantage of being able to connect with my colleagues during their work day to keep projects moving forward smoothly.
That said, I always remind myself: We’re not doctors. We’re not saving lives. You have to draw the line somewhere.
This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring CareerBuilder executives discussing everyday topics to help you live a better life both at and outside of work. Topics range from work-life balance tips to productivity hacks.