Get more done in less time

Productivity Pro helps professionals manage time

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By Suzy Smith
Blount Today

For anyone whose inbox has 200 emails, voice mailbox has 10 messages unreturned or for those taking work home or
staying late to complete it, the Productivity Pro is here to help.

The Productivity Pro, i.e. Laura Stack, will be speaking at an upcoming luncheon and seminar sponsored by the Maryville Chapter of The International Association of Administrative Professionals. The hour-long luncheon is scheduled for Monday, April 23 at noon at the Airport Hilton. The seminar is scheduled for April 23 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Fine Arts Center at Maryville College. Both the luncheon and seminar will feature Laura Stack, author of "Leave the Office Earlier" and president of The Productivity Pro, an international consulting firm that specializes in improving productivity.

"It’s exciting to bring in somebody so well known," said Marsha Wynn, executive assistant in the
Development/Advancement Office at Maryville College. She said she heard Stack speak at a convention and was impressed with her dynamic personality, practical ideas and amusing anecdotes.

During the luncheon, Stack will share universal tips about increasing productivity and the seminar will provide more in-depth training on improving time management skills.

In a telephone interview, Stack said some elements that prohibit workers from being productive are distractions, excessive meetings and emails. Solutions to these problems take creative thinking.

For example, in one open office setting, she discovered that several administrative professionals who were stationed in high traffic areas were wasting a tremendous amount of time by socializing with co-workers. The administrative professionals said they felt like they were being rude if they did not acknowledge the people who passed their desks. Their greeting usually led to longer discussions which consumed chunks of their valuable time. Simply re-configuring the office layout solved the dilemma. Having their backs turned away from the high traffic area gave them permission to keep focused on their work.

Stack said improving communication skills is vital to increasing productivity.

"Sometimes, saying ‘no’ politely is okay when someone asks if you have a minute," Stack said. She suggests negotiating deadlines is also an option for those times when you are swamped with work.

She shared a story of one office where workers in a department wear orange arm bands to signify to other departments that they are immersed in a project.

To help with an overwhelming amount of email, she suggests for companies to examine their protocol on what types of communication is acceptable to email.

"Some people need to get in the habit of not firing off an email," Stack said. She said sometimes picking up the phone can be a time saver to resolve an issue rather than sending an email.

Another suggestion to improving productivity is to be realistic.

"You shouldn’t just have one to-do list with 57 things on it," Stack said. She said it was important to make a new list every day with the few items that you can realistically manage.

Stack earned her masters in Business in Organizational Management and started her professional career as a corporate trainer. After teaching at the University of Colorado, she joined CareerTrack as a public speaker. In 1992, she started her own company, The Productivity Pro which is one of the only consulting businesses that focus only on time management and productivity products. Some companies on her client list include Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Wells Fargo and Time Warner. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and three children, ages 11, 7 and 5.

"I want to help people get their work done in less time, so they can spend more time with their families," Stack said.

The luncheon and seminar are open to the public. The luncheon costs $25 and the seminar is $25, but the cost to attend both is $40. The events are sponsored by the Maryville chapter of The International Association of Administrative Professionals, a not-for-profit organization that provides information, education and training to administrative professionals
to promote excellence and set standards in the business community.

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