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By Sharon Jones

Everyone wants to be a success in their chosen field, whether that be IT or commercial waste disposal, and no one wants to be the guy who is completely snowed under by mountains of work, unable to get a foothold, and spiralling downwards in a personal crisis.

But it seems like personal crises are still a bit more common than professionals with all their ducks in a row and complete mastery of their situations.

Here’s a look at a few things you can do at once to start taking back control of your professional life and work towards becoming — or remaining — one of those rare “in control” types.

Introduce an effective project management system

It’s a fact that you will have a lot of work thrown your way during the course of your professional life. Some of this will be in the form of major projects that you’re excited about, and which have the potential to move your entire career forward by leaps and bounds, and some of it will be stuff that you find decidedly less inspiring but still need to get done.

How do you keep track of all the different projects that you have to manage at any given time, not to mention knowing what to do next for each one? The answer is that, if you’ve never given this much thought, you probably don’t know.

A good project management system is essential for keeping on top of things, whether this involves following the method outlined in David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, or your own inspired solution using a Moleskine notebook and an Evernote subscription.

Develop a clear vision of where you want to be down the line

There’s a well known saying along the lines of “if you don’t know where you’re heading, you’ll never get there”. For a business to be successful, we first have to have a clear and coherent vision of what “success” would look like.

It’s essential that you take the time to sit down and really imagine your ideal working situation — then write it down. You should reflect on this vision every day, at least once, in order to keep your eye on the prize.

Think big — don’t worry overly much about being “realistic”. Much of “realistic” thinking is just a lack of imagination or confidence in disguise.

Handle easy tasks on the spot

Not every task which falls into your inbox is going to be big or important enough to assign to a specific project category in your planner. Some are just going to be busywork which your boss has delegated to you because it needs to get done.

These tasks have a frustrating way of draining far more of our time than it feels like they should.

One popular solution is to handle any task which can be quickly and easily dealt with (think 10 minutes or less), on the spot.

As much as possible, try to isolate blocks of time

Peak-productivity requires big blocks of time to work with, so that we can really get into the flow of things and develop some momentum, not to mention make a real dent on our big projects.

As much as possible, try to isolate chunks of time during your work day to commit to your projects. Try and create an arrangement where you’ll be free from meetings or distractions for at least a couple of hours in a row.

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