time management

Thanksgiving: Be Thankful For Work You Enjoy

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it is a good time to think about what you are thankful for in life. Many people mention family and friends first. But how about being grateful for a job you enjoy? Do you thrive on your work? Most positions require dedication and hard work although it may not feel that way if you draw energy from what you do.

What about the people who are passionate about their work but feel they are held back because they are not as productive as they would like to be? Lack of time management may be affecting their output. If you are in this category, read the tips below on how you can strengthen your efficiency skills.

  • Ask organized and productive colleagues to name the most important thing they do to remain productive. Give one of those ideas a try but remember that you need to practice correctly for 21 days straight. Otherwise back to the drawing board to research additional ways to strengthen productivity skills.
  • Read books, blogs or websites. Check out David Allen (www.davidco.com), Allan Lakein (Http://thinkingdirections.com/articles6Lakein.htm) or Harold Taylor (www.taylorintime.com). All have different views and suggestions on how to improve your productivity … what it takes to become more organized and get more done in a day.
  • Attend a class at a community college or from Fred Pryor (www.pryor.com/. Pryor offers a slew of courses to make you more productive including one called Managing Multiple Priorities.
  • Ask a friend or family member to shadow you. With an accountability partner, it not as easy to give up and go back to your old, comfortable, non-productive habits.

How are you going to become more organized and productive? Please share your ideas with us.

 

 

 

 

Get Big Projects Done With Block Scheduling

The Case for Block Scheduling

On average, according to researcher David Meyer, switching time increases the amount of time it takes to finish the primary task you were
working on by an average of 25%. In short, juggling activities is incredibly inefficient.

It takes 25 minutes to regain concentration after each interruption. (Source: University of California-Irvine Study)

What are the benefits of Block Scheduling?

  • It keeps you focused on the project at hand and prevents you from “flitting” from project to project with each interruption.
  • You avoid interruptions during specific blocks and gladly accept them during other blocks.
  • You accomplish more in a day.
  • Your output is likely to be better quality because you weren’t hurried and could do your best work.
  • You have better control over your schedule.
  • You can tackle big projects by breaking them down into steps and doing one or more of the steps during a block time.

Try it

  • Make an appointment with yourself and honor it the same way you’d honor a meeting.
  • Set up blocks of time on your calendar throughout the week.
  • Stick to the schedule as closely as possible, even with appointments and meetings that arise at the last minute.
  • Schedule the blocks of time when you do your best thinking and are most creative.

Tip:  1 – 1/2 ½ hours most days of the week is ideal but 2-3 days may be most practical, especially at the beginning.

Can It’s Time To Get Organized help you set up your block schedule so you can get the maximum out of each day? Call 404-3-3-8431 or email: info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com.

 

Plan Ahead For Your Summer Vacation

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.

All Work & No Play

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.

How To Get Your Taxes Done by April 15th

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!

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!

Could you wallpaper your office from your stacks of paper?

How is your desk looking today? Are your papers in order or are you having difficulty finding what you need?

Sometimes a messy desk just means that you’re not tidy and that you can still find what you need quickly. Or,

sometimes it indicates that you avoid making decisions.

Which one are you?

Here are a few reasons why you may put off handling those piles:

… I’m too busy. I’ll do it later. I’m not sure what the paper is.

… I don’t know what to do with it.

… I am not ready to handle it until I can do it perfectly.

… I don’t have the right tools.

… I’m not sure what the answer is.

… There is no clear cut action.

Tell us why you think you delay decisions and what your thoughts are about co-workers who have piles of paper in their office?