by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP | April 01, 2013

This second installment of a two-part checklist (read part one here), is adapted from What to Do When There's Too Much to Do: Reduce Tasks, Increase Results and Save 90 Minutes a Day (Berrett-Koehler) by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, whose company, The Productivity Pro, Inc. (, provides workshops on productivity, potential and performance. This month, Stack offers an overview of the last three of her six steps to save time the smart way.

Step 4: Process New Information• Use the "6-D System" to get through your email: Discard, Delegate, Do, Date, Drawer, Deter. Force yourself to either delete, forward, reply, move to a task list or calendar, file or unsubscribe.

• Define your C-O-R-E time-management system: Capture tasks as you think of them, Organize incomplete tasks into your software, Reference them on your preferred device and Execute the work.

• Develop a logical filing system for your electronic files, using easily remembered naming conventions.

• If it takes you more than a minute to find a file, something's wrong. Develop a more efficient information processing/filing system.

• Create an email rule for social media emails, so that every message with a subject line that includes "LinkedIn," "Facebook" or "Twitter" will automatically get filed in a folder you can refer to later -- all at once.

Step 5: Close the Loop• Always look for ways to improve processes and reduce inefficiency. Don't do things "because we've always done it that way."

• Don't change things just to change them. If an existing system works reasonably well and you can't think of a better way to do it, then why fix it?

• Learn the keyboard shortcuts for all your computer programs, and program macros for common tasks. You'll save a surprising amount of time.

• Make contingency plans for your own unavailability. Coordinate with a co-worker to handle your part of a project, and ensure your resources are accessible and understandable.

• To clear the path to greater group productivity, meet with your team only when absolutely necessary -- and then only briefly.

• Put everything clients ever ask you for on your website, SharePoint, Google Docs, etc., so that people stop asking you for stuff.

Step 6: Manage Your Capacity• You can't perform at superhuman levels all the time; readjust your expectations to fit your energy. Stop running your "battery" dry.

• If you spend an inordinate amount of time fixing your mistakes, you may be working too many hours. Either cut back on your hours or repair your energy-draining habits -- or both.

• When you have to overwork yourself, try to do so in short bursts separated by longer periods of normal work or rest.

• If you have insomnia, try drinking herbal tea before bed. Avoid caffeine/sugar after 2 p.m.

• Join forces with an "exercise buddy" to help you stay on track with your workout routine.

• If you feel the urge to burst out laughing because everything's going so badly, share the joke with those around you, so they know you're not laughing at them.