1. Avoid meetings that lack an agenda–Meetings can only be productive if people know why they’re meeting in the first place. An agenda provides focus and purpose. The lack of an agenda guarantees meaningless conversations. They’re a waste of yours and everyone else’s time.
2. Never pick up on an unknown caller–Unless you’re working in telesales or product support, there’s no reason why you should ever take a call from somebody you don’t know.
3. Permanently turn off your voice mail–A voice-mail message takes minutes of your time to get information you could get from an email in seconds. Explain in your outgoing message that you don’t use voice mail, and instead give your email address.
4. Hone your email program’s sorting rules–It takes time and energy to sort through and respond to a long list of disconnected messages. Most email programs let you send different types of messages into folders, where you can review and respond quickly.
5. Periodically disable email and texting–When you need to do creative work or take in complex information, the last thing you need is your computer and phone going off. Whatever it is, it can wait until you’ve finished.
6. Give social butterflies short shrift–For some people, a day at work means gossiping. Don’t let these time people mess with your success.
7. Reward your body with high-quality fuel–What you eat determines your energy level, and your energy level determines how much you can get accomplished. Sugary treats provide quick energy but create a huge crash. Heavy foods take energy to digest and that leaves you with less to use.
8. Take a five-minute walking break every hour–The human body isn’t designed to sit for hours at a stretch. It creates aches and pains that take your energy as your body tries to heal them. So get up and move!
9. Make your decisions more quickly–Most people waste a huge amount of time obsessing about their decision making. You’re always better off making a good-enough decision quickly than waiting for an imaginary best decision.
10. Completely disconnect for 12 hours every day–If you stop pretending to be productive when you’re eating and sleeping, you’ll be far more productive when you’re actually working. Being always available is a recipe for stress, illness, and bad decision making. Give it rest.