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5 Steps to Rescue Your Productivity When Days Go Bad

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Have you ever had one of those days? You start off with big plans to be productive. Your calendar is filled with confirmed appointments. Then, nothing seems to go right. Your computer crashes. Your cell phone battery dies and your charger is at home. Someone spills on your shirt just before an important meeting. Your confirmed lunch appointment stands you up. 


Don’t worry. Your day is not a total disaster. In fact, you can save your sanity and salvage the day. You just need to re-focus. Here are five easy ways to rescue your day when mishaps threaten to ruin it:

1. Keep quick tasks close at hand.
When time opens up in your schedule, like your lunch appointment not showing up, you suddenly have time to handle other opportunities if you’re prepared. For example, I carry notecards, envelopes and stamps in my bag. When I find "lost time" in short unexpected moments throughout my busy day, this allows me to write a few thank you notes, birthday cards and other hand-written messages to clients, staff and others in my network. Getting something done in place of what fell through keeps me feeling productive and the unexpected gesture makes me stand out from the masses.

Related: Change the Rules: 5 Ways to Bring Mission Into Your Business

2. Avoid blips with practice.
Have you ever spent the first 20 minutes of a video meeting working out all the technology kinks? When I think of how many cumulative hours have been wasted, I go crazy. If you have an upcoming meeting or presentation in which you'll be using technology that's new to you, schedule rehearsal time. Book the conference room, have all the audiovisual equipment set up, and go through the exact procedure ahead of time. Practice using the microphone, pointing the clicker and seeing what your PowerPoint looks like on the presentation screen.

Don't practice on key clients. Help your clients look good too by sending an agenda with the exact instructions and any audiovisual materials they'll need. If you're familiar with the gear, you'll be able to better handle anything unexpected that comes your way.

3. Revive your confidence with a deep breath.
Sometimes we get so caught up in what's happening in the moment we forget to breathe deeply. When unanticipated situations crop up, stress is a natural reaction. However, remembering to breathe deeply can calm the hectic moments and allow you to re-focus on where you want your day to go. Deep breathing improves your concentration and increases your energy. Relaxed bodies also have greater self-confidence, exactly what you need when things seem to be spinning out of control. So breathe. Deeply.

Related: How to Raise Your Stress Tolerance

4. Anticipate emergencies.
Repeat what works and eliminate what doesn't. This ensures you won't have another day filled with mishaps beyond your control. For example, keep an extra set of clothing in your car or office, so that a coffee spill becomes a nuisance and not a disaster. Buy phone chargers for your home, office and carry-on bag to stay charged wherever you are.

5. Use cancellations as time to think about the big picture.
What's the first thing you do when you're notified that a meeting has been canceled? Check email or go for coffee, right? Most people go back to what they were working on. What if you didn't? Instead of chipping away at your never-ending mountain of emails, take that one-hour time slot that you were scheduled to be away from your desk to actually move a big, long term project forward. When was the last time you had a fully uninterrupted hour to think? Now is your time to make significant progress on something big.

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