At times it feels like Catalyst Ranch is a revolving door of international thought leaders. Our clients, facilitators and guest speakers are some of the most influential and successful professionals in their fields. I’m constantly amazed by their achievements and always curious how they accomplish so much – so I decided to ask them! In this ongoing series we’re excited to share some insider productivity tips and tricks directly from Catalyst Ranch’s favorite clients, vendors, industry leaders, and our very own staff.


Lauren Smith

Special Events and Marketing Manager
Catalyst Ranch

Get up, get out and walk around!

Stepping away from my office and computer for a few minutes every afternoon helps my productivity. It’s a chance to stretch my legs because movement helps the body stay energized. Plus it gives my eyes and contacts a break from the computer screen so I walk around the corner for a cup of coffee in nice weather. On one of my walks I ran into someone that introduced me to a new West Loop neighbor. We’ve started a business relationship that could get pretty exciting!

MarymedunaMary Meduna, Ph.D.

Activating Energy

I can never just work on one project at a time–both by choice and by necessity, and I’ve struggled to find a way to stay on track with all of them. I finally found a system that works for me about 1 year ago. I bought 25 cent composition notebooks and these have become my work journal. Each week, I create a page with the dates at the top. On this page, I outline each project that I’m carrying over from the previous week and add any new projects. Under each project heading, I outline the small steps I intend to take toward each project that week. By handwriting these each week, I get to mentally and physically (by writing) review what my priorities are. In addition to projects, I also make note of people that I need to follow up with, important events that I have scheduled for the week and any other reminders that I don’t want to forget (like my mom’s birthday). I typically set up this agenda on Fridays. This when the projects are most fresh in my mind and it is easy to bring forward what I want to focus on next week. This also allows me to let go of work for the weekend because I know that I already have my plan for the coming week outlined. During the week, I make notes about what I’ve done or who I’ve spoken to.

The additional bonus of this system is that I have a historical record of the projects I have been working on. This serves as a reminder of how much I have accomplished when I get down and feel like, “I haven’t gotten anything done!”

paulette-eastmanPaulette Eastman

Catering Sales Manager
Renaissance Blackstone Chicago

The first and most important step to a productive day begins with the TO-DO LIST….(yes, capital letters!!).  Arriving at the office early to have a cup of coffee and organize my day by bullet points in order of priority ensures I am on track throughout and helps to see the trees through the forest.  Regardless of the flow of the day, the anchor is the TO-DO LIST to stay on point, measure progress and provide the encouraging satisfaction of crossing the items off.

Chime in! What are your own productivity strategies? How do they compare to those of our experts? Maybe they’ll even be featured in part 2…..