Skip to main content

How to get started:

Feel like you’re at a crossroads? Ellevate 101 introduces you to the community that can give you a career kickstart.

We’ll walk you through some light intros and give you space to connect about shared career experiences. You’ll also learn how to use your Ellevate program to continuously make moves towards success at work.

Our next live welcome session is .

Register here for your chance to get started

4 women lined up supporting each other

Career Productivity Leaks: 4 Strategies That Can Help

Career Productivity Leaks: 4 Strategies That Can Help

In this day of rightsizing and downsizing, many employees are working harder than ever to maintain productivity on the job. A recent New York Times article highlighted this fact – pointing out that some workers are going so far as to use amphetamine-based stimulants used to treat ADHD in order to maintain higher levels of productivity.

There’s no doubt that many women are overwhelmed with all they have on their plates these days. Between being asked to be more productive at work (often with less staff and resources), keeping the home fires burning, and maintaining social and community ties – many women are feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Anne Grady, author and organizational leadership expert, knows all too well the frustrations of trying to maintain a balanced and productive life – having built her consulting business as a single parent raising a child with a disability. Over the years, Anne has developed a storehouse of wisdom and valuable strategies that have helped her move from chaos to a calmer existence, and she’s shared it all in her book – 52 Strategies For Life, Love And Work: Transforming Your Life One Week At A Time. Anne offers these 4 tips to help your productivity quotient:

1. Eat the Frog. Mark Twain first coined this phrase over a hundred years ago. The basic idea is that when you “eat the frog” first thing in the morning, nothing else will seem as bad the rest of the day. Anne recommends getting your most distasteful task done at the beginning of the day, and if you can’t “eat the whole frog,” set a timer for 30 minutes and just “eat a frog leg” to gain a feeling of accomplishment and get the ball rolling.

2. Manage Interruptions. Studies have shown that each interruption can cost 10 to 15 minutes of productivity each day. Anne’s solutions include turning off email alerts and other technological distractions when you need to focus. She also encourages training co-workers, family and friends to stay clear when you’re in the interruption-free zone unless there’s an emergency. Anne says, “...minimizing even two interruptions can be the equivalent of 30 minutes of increased productivity per day, which translates to 22 days of increased productivity over the course of a year.”

3. Time Out Moments. “Having too much on our minds can keep us distracted, forgetful and overwhelmed,” Anne says. To counteract brain overload, she recommends taking occasional time-outs including short “breathers” throughout the day – taking 2 or 3 minutes to simply follow your breath. She also recommends the “brain dump” technique – taking five or ten minutes to purge any ‘to-do’ lists, meal plans or general worries by writing them all down in a notebook or at the keyboard so you can move ahead with a clearer mind.

4. Focus On One Task. Many assume that doing two or three tasks at the same time will get work done faster, but Anne explains that multi-tasking is “the death of productivity.” “Research has shown that multi-tasking lowers your IQ by ten points – more IQ points than losing a whole night’s sleep,” she says. “We’re far more effective and productive when we give ourselves permission to focus on one task at a time.”

In our quest to keep all the balls in the air, we often stretch ourselves way too thin, getting less done as a result. Putting Anne Grady’s strategies to work can help you create new boundaries and guidelines for a more productive life and give you greater peace of mind along the way.


Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the 2nd edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to AOL Jobs, CNN Money, and the British online magazine The Rouse and More Magazine online. She is hosting and producing an online webisode series called Thrive!, about career & life empowerment for women. She hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life on iTunes. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.