Are you planning on taking time off from the office this summer? We’ve all experienced the mad-rush just before leaving town and the stress associated with it. Read on for ideas that will make the start of your vacation much more relaxing.
1) Take 30 minutes three weeks ahead of time to identify the projects that need to be done — or at least addressed — before you leave.
2) Create a list of to-do’s that need to be accomplished for each project. Include specific actions and due dates. Write each to-do on your daily to-do list whether it is paper or electronic. The more detailed you can be, the better. Once a task is written down, it is far more likely that it will get done.
3) Review meetings and appointments that are scheduled during your vacation. Delegate, cancel or reschedule.
4) Inform co-workers and colleagues regarding possible issues that might arise in your absence.
5) Schedule meetings for the week you return but not the first day back in the office.
6) Put an out-of-office notice on your email and phone.
7) Enjoy your vacation and forget about work while you are gone from the office. You will return refreshed with renewed vigor and energy.
Click here for more tips on how to experience a work-free vacation.
Putting Off An Important Task
How many times have you intended to do something very important but you just cannot get to it? Other, less important tasks get in your way. Before you know it, the time is gone and you haven’t completed a critical task.
Most of us contend with these task battles within ourselves daily. Which task wins — the less important one that feels urgent or the more important one that will take you one step closer to your goal? It is a dilemma but there are solutions. Here are a few tips:
The next time you have to choose between two tasks – one urgent and one important – try one of these tips.
Need time management help? Call Leslie or Barbara at It’s Time To Get Organized (404-250-9600) or email: info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com. We can help you get those important tasks done on a timely basis so you accomplish your goals.
I don’t know about you, but I dislike the piles of junk mail that show up in my mailbox unsolicited. I sift through the junk immediately keeping my eye out for important pieces of mail, hoping I do not overlook something important. Before even stepping into my house, I typically fling into the trash:
Would you like to reduce the pounds of junk mail that weigh you down? Would you like to open your mail box and find only first class mail?
Below are opt-out websites that will help make this happen.
1) www.directmail.com — there is no cost to take you off lists.
2) www.dmachoice.org — choose particular companies in the following four categories from which you still want to receive mail; eliminate the rest for five years or permanently.
3) www.OptOutPrescreen.com — the official consumer credit reporting industry website for consumers to opt in or opt out of credit or insurance offers for five years or permanently.
It will only take 15 minutes. Do it today. Go on the websites to minimize the amount of unwanted mail. You’ll love opening
This week’s Turnaround Authority blog discusses work-life balance and how to achieve it. Lee Katz points out — rightfully so — that work with no breaks stifles creativity and efficiency; too often we fall prey to our electronic devices and forget about the importance of leisure time.
As a productivity specialist, I couldn’t agree more. Many professionals I work with feel compelled to check their emails at all times of day and night, even on vacation. During the day they are constantly being interrupted and stressed out with rush projects that need their attention immediately. They put out fires and leave the “undone” tasks until after the kids are in bed when they finally are not interrupted. There goes the chance to read a good book or to catch up on the day’s events with your significant other.
Part of this is a mind-set — for many of us work is all consuming and we forget about “down” time and how it recharges our batteries and our creativity. That’s why work-life balance will only happen when we consciously create it. Those much-needed breaks will help our personal frame-of-mind and bring about continuing business success.
Part of the technique is to use work time effectively so you accomplish your work goals during the day.The second part? Plan your leisure time … something, anything, just not work. A vacation or weekend morning’s activity without an electronic device is, we promise, doable. And, the best part is that you will feel refreshed, renewed and ready for those challenging problems that need your creative juices.
My friend Necia has been telling me for months that she intends to get organized.
The other day we were sitting next to one another in a meeting. She had a notebook in front of her and I was curious — what was she writing in it? She showed me. It is how she is finally getting her office organized. Her secret: she spends thirty minutes a day at this task and tracks her progress daily in the lined notebook.
Her notes look like this:
Day Commitment Actual Y/N Level Ripples
Mon. 4/3 Getting Organized Review old files Y 4 Got it done!
Tues. 4/4 Getting Organized File 30 minutes Y 3 Making Progress
Necia shared with me how she learned about evaluating her daily progress to reach a goal. The idea came from a newly released book called The Ripple Effect. Author Doug Grady has created an easy-to-implement system (just the kind we like!) to change a habit or to take action to get things done. We agree with Grady — small action steps help eliminate procrastination and keep you focused on your goal.
As efficiency experts, we are all about achieving goals and accomplishing the projects you rate highest on your list. Writing things down (or entering them into an electronic device) is an indication of your commitment. In fact, just the act of writing down your day-to-day progress has a positive effect on the outcome.So, Grady’s recommendation to keep track of progress in a notebook works. The cost to implement this solution? the price of a notebook and the desire to achieve your goal. That’s it.
Want to accomplish a project that you have thought about but not yet acted on? Try Grady’s method. This will be a positive use of your time and will help you achieve the results you desire.
Most of us think of springtime as the perfect time to get rid of clutter in our homes. We envision coats bulging from the closet and drawers filled with things you don’t need any longer. But the same problem exists in many offices and home offices; piles of paper, files strewn about and random items taking over good real estate on the desk or credenza. If this describes your work area, here are a few ways to clear your space (and your head).
1) Are you honestly going to read those papers and magazines? If the answer is no, then give yourself permission to toss them out without feeling guilty.
2) If I change my mind after I’ve thrown out a paper, then what? In many companies the person who sent the document originally keeps a copy. Or, the information may be easy to pull up on the web. Then again it might be available through a professional group such as the local bar association.
Clutter may not just be physical. It comes in other forms as well. How many times has a thought popped into your head and then disappears? No matter how often you push it aside, it keeps returning. Write it down. Often, you need to act on it. Once you add it to your to-do list or assign it to your calendar, then you no longer have to keep remembering it. The best part: your head is now clear to focus on important things.
Clutter can also be technological. Your computer, smart phone, iPad or Kindle can be loaded down with documents and apps that you do not use. They’re in the way when you are searching, making it difficult to find what you are looking for. It prevents you from being creative and saps your energy and focus.
Make the clutter disappear. It sounds easy enough but, unfortunately, will not happen without you taking action. Set aside time to deal with it, even though you prefer to be working on something else. It could easily take a few hours which you may want to do all at once or in small increments. As long as the time is blocked out on the calendar, you can feel confident that the job will get done. Before you know it you’ll be back in control of your desk and technology tools.
With the start of spring and warm weather, it gets even more challenging to focus on the tasks you know you need to get done. Try these suggestions to stop the games you play with yourself to avoid the task at hand.
1) Add planning time to your day to decide what must get done.
2) Confront the task or project you have let slide. Is is still a priority? No? Take it off your list.
3) Write down specific steps to complete the project and estimate how long each step will take.
4) Decide what will make the task as easy as possible. A larger work surface? Last year’s documents? Uninterrupted time?
5) Set the mood. What external stimuli will entice you to get started? Music and snacks often the task more enjoyable.
6) Tackle the first step. If you have time, continue. If not, leave the next step for later.
7) Ask a trusted friend or colleague to help you get started.
What a feeling of relief and satisfaction knowing that the project is done — or, at least, started.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to the project I’ve been putting off.
If you have put off taxes, and many people have, there is still time to buckle down and finish them before April 15th. Asking for an extension just prolongs the misery and weighs you down. You know they need to be done so why not just get on with it? Now. There is no more time left to procrastinate.
How to start? Here are 10 easy-to-follow steps:
1) Set up a date to meet with your accountant, if you use one.
2) Schedule time on your calendar to work on your taxes (and only your taxes in this allotted time). Be sure to keep the appointments.
3) If your accountant has given you a worksheet, read it through carefully it so you know exactly what is needed.
4) Pull out all of your papers and divide them into categories. Print the documents that are on the computer or copy them onto a USB or CD for the accountant.
5) Sort the papers again, this time into subcategories. For example, you might begin with a stack labeled clients and gradually whittle it down to a number of individual clients.
6) Write down your questions so you do not forget to ask your accountant or a knowledgeable source.
7) Call for the documents that are missing.
8) Label each stack of documents, using binder clips to separate them. While all of these stacks may not be needed for the accountant or the IRS, it helps to stack them in an organized pile.
9) Put in as much energy and time as needed to finish the job on time. Forego weekends and week nights, if that is what it takes.
10) Make sure the government office signs a receipt and returns it to you. Keep the receipt in your tax file. If the IRS later on says that they never received your taxes, you have the proof that they were sent. This happens more than you may realize.
Now sit back and relax while your friends and colleagues scurry around in panic mode trying to meet their extension dates because they put their taxes off. And you didn’t!
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?
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:
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!