Bates: Becoming more efficient isn’t easy, but can be done

Working more efficiently is one of those topics that I need to hear about often. Working efficiently isn’t easy.

None of us is born being efficient. It is a learned skill. Being efficient requires change and definitely pulls us out of comfortable bad habits. Yet developing efficient practices can help all of us become better at what we do and have a better work-life balance. I share four basic ways to be more efficient:

• Have an organized workplace. Make certain your desk has the supplies ready at hand. For me, it’s business cards, fliers of events, volunteer brochures, pens, highlighters, pads of paper and paper clips – plenty of paperclips. 

• Develop a plan for each day and keep it accessible. Some do this on computers. Millennials use their mobile phones. For me, I have files labeled A, B and C. A is what I need to get done that day. B is what I need to get accomplished within the week, and C is a long-term task that I need to work on, but doesn’t need to be accomplished overnight. This helps me prioritize well without procrastinating on projects I might not enjoy.

• Shut the door. This really trips me up. I really enjoy having my office door open for anyone who wants to visit. Yet I know if I can concentrate on one thing at a time or work on a project for at least 45 minutes uninterrupted, that helps me get a good start on a priority task. Victoria Cook of the Center for Guilt Free Success has advised me to shut my door once a day for those 45 minutes early in the day.

• Schedule time for the important things. Make certain you have put into your week some personal time for exercise, time with family and friends or just walking the dog. If you don’t have these special times scheduled, you may be tempted to overlook what makes life worthwhile.  

• • •

The McHenry Area Chamber has a number of events in coming weeks.

The chamber’s State of McHenry luncheon is Feb. 26. This is a great opportunity to learn about key issues affecting our community while meeting city officials. Reservations must be made by noon Tuesday.   

Learn how to work a mixer Feb. 28 at the chamber office. Frank Hosticka of Legal Shield will share tips and tools that make your networking experience profitable.  

Our next Thursday Shop In is March 6 at Walgreens in McHenry. Residents and chamber members should arrive between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Announce to the staff that the chamber sent you and be registered for a $25 gift card.  

The McHenry Area Chamber “Life is a Journey” Expo is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 15 at McHenry West Campus. It is sponsored by Bjorkman’s Ace Hardware, Centegra Health System and Northwest Herald. This is not a typical expo. It’s an expo within an expo featuring color-coded rows such as Leisure Lane, Senior Street, Pet Parkway, Health & Fitness Fairway, Financial Frontage, Woman’s Walkway, Children’s Court, Home Highway and Automotive Avenue.

Entertainment will include the Coupon Queen, an exotic animal show, Flatland Bikes Stunt Show, Mike’s Brass and Woodwind, inflatables and popcorn. For information, visit  

The next mixer is March 4 at First Way Pregnancy. We look forward to seeing you.

• Kay Bates is executive director of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. 

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