Productivity Tips

What Do You Do With Newly Found Time?

Has this ever happened to you? At the last minute, a client cancels or a conference call is delayed — you were prepared for the meeting that now is not taking place. What do you do with the “extra” time on your hands?

View this as an unexpected bonus … a golden opportunity that has come your way out of the blue … and make the most of it. While many may see this time as the possibility of doing something less important such as: a phone call to a friend or a chance to try a new restaurant, this may be a chance to get a meaningful task completed that will bring you closer to your goals.

Aha! This is where your daily to-do list comes in handy. You have already decided the 3 tasks that must be done for the day. (That was done the night before or at the start of the day.) Choose the task that you can accomplish during this period of time and get it done in this block of newly found time. Stay focused throughout the period of time that would have been spent in a different way, if things had gone as planned.

How have you used time that was freed up unexpectedly?

How To Create a Powerful To-Do List

Last week I was invited to speak to Georgia State legislatures about how to use their time most effectively. Their days are packed — several showed        me their planners which they carry with them at all times so they know where they are meeting and with whom. Their planners are filled with activities and appointments from early morning until late in the evening.

We talked about making a powerful to-do list and how that will help them accomplish their projects and goals. And, the best news is that it reduces your  stress levels.

Some of the tips I recommended too the Georgia State legislatures are:

  • Choose 3-5 important tasks to complete each day.
  • Begin every to-do with a verb such as: call, email, send.
  • Make every task specific. Instead of: Research tax law, break the project down into small, concrete actions. The first step might be to contact the legislature who helped write the original tax law.
  • Add all meetings and appointments including times and locations.
  • Allow time before and after appointments and meetings before scheduling the next task.
  • Estimate the time you believe it will take for you to accomplish a task and then double it. It often takes a lot longer than you think to get something done.
  • Schedule a block of uninterrupted time to work on an important project.
  • Schedule like activities together such as: check email from 10:30-11:15am and again at 3-3:30pm. Example: make callsfor a half hour in the morning and return calls at a specific time in the afternoon.
  • Incorporate as many routines in your day as possible because they are an efficient way to run your day.
  • Consult your planner often throughout the day.

Does your to-do list ramble on and on for pages? If so, try cutting it down so that you can accomplish everything on it. Think how great it will feel when you walk out at the end of the day with it all completed!

 

Time Is Currency

Time is finite and a limited resource so we want to make good use of it. We can spend it as we choose. Over the next month and a half we are providing training to a financial management firm on how we can help them become more productive and use their time as productively as possible.

Think of time as an investment. We all want the best possible  return on our investments — strong time management skills directly contribute to maximizing our time and accomplishing our goals.

Think of time as a rate of return. When we spend our time in areas where there is a high rate of return, we are managing it well. For example, if you are spending time with clients or taking a class that will improve your productivity skills, that’s a good ROI. If a skill took four hours and now takes 1 hour, that’s an excellent payout. Even if you are currently productive, there are always ways to improve it.

However, what if you are spending time on work that you can delegate or reading a publication that is interesting but perhaps not educational?  These might be a low or negative rate of return.

Here’s a suggestion to amp up your productivity:

1) Revisit your activities, daily tasks and how you handle large projects to make sure that you are maximizing your time.

2) List what you need to do to change this situation including the sstart and due date, and the specific activity.

3) Then add it to your planner. The chances that you will implement the change are much greater if the task is written down on a specific date.

4) Assess the outcome. Is it making a difference in how you are using your time? If so, continue to improve upon this new habit. If not, evaluate what you did and how you can make it work.

It’s worth it, we promise.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Create A Someday/Maybe List

If you are like the rest of us, there are projects that don’t fit into our current priorities. You want to do them but can not get to them right away. One of our clients recently told us that she would like to write a newsletter but other goals are more pressing at the moment. Still, she does not want to forget about the idea.

If not all of the projects you want to accomplish in 2012 fit into your goals, here’s good news. They do not need to be abandoned. Instead, create a someday/maybe list where you can review and reassess their viability often.

Below are some suggestions for how and where to  save your someday/maybe projects for a later time:

1) Write them down. List them on paper or electronic folder.

2) Label the folder “someday/maybe” or any name, for that matter, that speaks to you.

3) Check the folder every week to two weeks to make sure you still want to do the projects.

Consider storing the list in One Note, Evernote, Outlook’s notes section  or in a file folder in your inbox. If it’s    a paper folder, place the file folder in a location where you will see it often.

Once the information is stored electronically or in a paper file:

  • Set reminders in your planner to review your someday/maybe list regularly.
  • Compare your someday/maybe list to your current goals and the other items you are working on.
  • Approach your list with an open mind and consider the possibility that now may be the time that it fits into your current goals.

For more on this subject, check out David Allen’s website http://gtd.marvelz.com/blog/2007/08/14/somedaymaybe-unlikelynever-3-tips-to-fix-and-avoid-this/

Do you have a someday/maybe list and, if so, what’s on it?

How to Sort Paper

 

Most everyone finds it challenging to keep track of the sheer bulk of paper even in this electronic age. If you are not happy with the mess of paper on your desk or if you can’t find what you need quickly, you may be delaying making decisions. These tips will help guide you through the maze.

First, schedule several hours of non-work time to organize papers in your office.

Clear a workspace area for sorted papers.

Follow the F.A.T. System for sorting paper, notebooks, files, and binders.

  • File: “F” stands for File. Label one of your boxes “File” and sort the following into it:
      — Keep active to-do’s close at hand
      — Move files used less often to other areas.
  • Act: “A” stands for Action. Designate a box for Action items and use it for papers on which you need to do something (e.g., send an email, process a file, make a phone call, discuss with someone, etc.). This means that you perform the necessary items on this piece of paper TODAY. Once you’ve completed these items, the paper should be filed, re-routed to someone else or discarded.
  • Toss: “T” stands for toss. Be brutal. Can it be retrieved again? Is it out-of-date? Does someone else have the information? Purge, purge, purge.

Imagine doing this same process daily except, of course, on a much smaller scale.

Now you’ll have control of your paper instead of it controlling you!

Hone Your Email Skills

As efficiency gurus, we’re all about saving time. One way is by being more efficient with your email.

Email is the #1 problem almost every business person deals with daily. It’s too easy to become so engrossed in email that you ignore today’s must-do list. We recommend using a timer or your phone to keep track of time.  How do you manage the time you spend on email? Let us know.

Our Best Travel Tips

Read tips on planning ahead and making  your next business trip a success. Although business trips can be exciting, the logistics of traveling can be stressful. By planning before, during and after the trip, you can lessen this stress.

Before you leave …

  • Identify the reason(s) for the trip and what exactly you want to accomplish. Make a list of the items and resources you will need to achieve your goals — save this list on your computer for future trips.
  • Block out time on your calendar — well before the date — to prepare thoroughly, especially if you are presenting or pitching a proposal. Anticipate what preparation will be needed and act on it now.
  • Enter your flight and hotel information into your calendar as an appointment. Make sure to block out time to travel to the airport.
  • Start compiling a reading folder — both paper and electronic — to take with you.
  • Avoid meetings and appointments the first day back in the office. You have plenty to do when you return (see below).

On the plane …

  • Pull out the file folder and computer with the backlog of articles, emails and magazines. This is a good time to catch up on reading.
  • At the hotel, ask for a room on a lower floor, especially if you are attending a convention. You can walk to your floor while everyone is waiting for the elevator. And, if you go to your room during the day, taking the stairs will be time efficient and will burn off a feww calories, too.
  • Keep track of expenses and receipts by putting them in one place such as an envelope, notebook or smart phone.
  • Review the bill the evening before and avoid standing in line at the hotel check-out desk the next day.
  • Request the room for a few hours longer if you are not departing by checkout time so you can focus on important matters. That takes the pressure off to pack and leave the room by mid-morning.

At your meetings …

  • Use a professional-looking spiral notebook. Divide the notebook into sections for different meetings and for different days. Put follow up tasks in a separate location.

When you return …

  • Sort your email inbox by subject (or by Conversation if you are using Outlook 2010). Read the most important replies first to see if an issue still needs your attention.
  • Review your trip notes as soon as possible, adding to-do’s to your task list right away.
  • Maintain frequent flyer and rewards program data in your contact list. Outlook Contacts will store all relevant information (e.g. phone numbers, websites, member IDs) and will synch with your cell for easy dialing.
  • Schedule a post-trip analysis even if it is just with yourself — did you achieve your goals? What (if anything) would you have done differently?

Make your next trip smooth-sailing and a first-class business experience.

 

Manage Email Efficiently

Leslie Walden is quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on November 28, 2010, about how to manage e-mail efficiently. She provides tips on how to reduce the number of e-mails in your inbox, how to write an effective e-mail, and how often to check e-mail.

Liz White, the publisher of Atlanta Parent Magazine and Leslie Walden’s client, was interviewed for the article. She spoke about how Leslie helped her make decisions about e-mail and the ways to reduce the number of e-mails in her in-box. To learn more about how It’s Time To Get Organized can help you be more productive, go to http://www.itstimetogetorganized.com/be-more-productive-at-your-desk/.

Paper, Paper Everywhere and Not a Place to Put It

On November 11, 2010, Barbara  Skutch Mays conducted an interactive seminar for the engineers at Cobb County — Marietta Water Authority on how to prepare for a successful and stress-free move to a new location. The emphasis was on how to decide which papers should be saved and which can be thrown or shred, what documents and items to keep on the top of your desk and how to set up an efficient system for finding documents quickly.

Managing Your Clients and Your Office

Leslie Walden from It’s Time To Get Organized spoke at the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL) mid-year meeting  November 5, 2010. The interactive workshop provided practical ways to manage time more effectively, handle work load more efficiently, streamline office procedures, and maintain and build stronger client relationships. Attendees received CLE (Continuing Legal Education) credit. For information on how you can book It’s Time To Get Organized as a speaker, go to: http://www.itstimetogetorganized.com/services/seminars-workshops/