tips to maximize your time

You’re Late!

Everyone is late from time to time (even you and me), often for a reason that can not be helped. But that’s not who we are going to discuss today. We are going to talk about people who are chronically late — people who do not leave enough time to get someplace on time. Often they often arrive late for lunch, an appointment or an important event like a job interview or a wedding.

If someone is consistently late, it can be a problem for friends and family who feel like victims. It can even damage the relationship. We all know how it feels to be sitting and waiting for a friend who is always late. “Sorry”, she mumbles when she arrives, “but I had to write an important email before I left and, oh, the traffic was really bad.” Maybe she thinks these excuses are acceptable but they get old quickly. It is tempting to give my friend an earlier time so she’ll actually arrive on time.

A far more serious problem is the effect being late has on relationships at work. Unfortunately, chronic latecomers have a poor reputation. Colleagues resent it when their peers show up for meetings after they have started. They do not feel as if they can trust their colleague. Far worse, it can eventually limit career advancement. It’s that serious.

According to Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again, most people don’t like being late but this behavior was often acquired a long time ago. Even when they try to be on time, it is extremely difficult to break lifelong habits.

What are some of the reasons that people are chronically late?

  • Their time is more important than yours, so they think, and they are indifferent to whether it bothers you. They may consider themselves more important and consider their contribution at work more substantial than yours.
  • They squeeze in as much as possible in as little time as possible. Or, they are distracted by last-minute to-dos such as answering the phone instead of letting it go to voicemail. Everything is a distraction. They forget that these things can wait until later.
  • They enjoy being late and making others wait. This person may be insecure – arriving well after the appointed hour may make them feel important.
  • Some latecomers like creating a grand entrance especially if it’s a large group that is sympathetic to their plight and does not know their history of chronic lateness. Of course they apologize but they also get center stage.
  • They do not have a good perception of time and tend to underestimate it. Often people who are chronically late fail to build in enough slack time for unforeseen situations.
  • Certain traits also tend to make people chronically late such as anxiety, low self-control and a tendency toward thrill-seeking. It’s an adrenaline rush to beat the clock.
  • They thrive on the mini-crisis they create when they are running late and deliberately   put themselves under the gun to get themselves moving.

Interestingly, some people are not comfortable with the idea of being early. They do not know what to do with the “extra time” and are frustrated at not making “every minute count.” The thought of downtime with nothing to do is uncomfortable. The last thing they want to do is wait.

What is their idea of being on-time? In a perfect world, some latecomers aim to arrive exactly at the start time. People who tend not to be late view it quite differently. On-time for them is arriving 15 minutes early which eliminates the stress and gives them a chance to grab a cup of coffee, relax and even scout things.

Try these tips for being on time:

  1. Make being prompt a priority. Recognize the negative, stressed out feelings you have when you are late.
  2. Build in travel time on the calendar. People who are chronically late tend to underestimate how long it will take to get to a place and be situated.
  3. Imagine how it will feel to be on time, even early, without the familiar feelings of being stressed. People will respect that you are on time.
  4. Get ready early. Gather up the documents you need ahead of time. That way, if an interruption occurs, you can handle it and still be ready to leave on time. Some of our clients begin preparing for the meeting when they are supposed to leave.
  5. Take reading material or something with you so you do not feel as if you are wasting time while you are waiting. Plan it ahead of time so you know that your time will be used efficiently. It will feel so good that you will want to do it again.
  6. If you are late most of the time, plan to be on time two times out of five. As you get better, add another time so that you are eventually on time five times out of five. Keep track of your progress with a journal (or Evernote).
  7. Plan the night before what you will need for appointments the next day and when you need to leave. Make sure to check for early morning meetings. It is no fun when the meeting stops and everyone looks at you when you walk into a meeting late.
  8. Watch the clock. Late people do not tend to be aware of the time.
  9. Set the timer, even two. One for when to start getting ready and the other for when to walk out the door.
  10. Think about the actions you will need to take to be ready to leave on time.
  11. Estimate the time you need to get somewhere and double it.
  12. Stop doing other things well before you leave. Remind yourself they can be done later.
  13. Fine yourself if you are late or give yourself a negative consequence says Dr. Phil. http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/215.
  14. Estimate how long something will take and then compare it with the actual time it took.

 

Top Ten Email Tips

Follow these top ten email tips and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how productive you will become in handling email and how much time you’ll save. You’ll also discover that it is really possible to reduce (even empty) your inbox.

1. Do not do email first thing in the morning. Once you plan out your day, work on your most important task (MIT) for the first hour you are in the office while you are fresh and alert. Then, start email. (Note: it’s OK to glance through email first thing in the morning to make sure that you have not missed anything significant, such as an urgent email from your supervisor or a cancelled meeting.)

2. Schedule several blocks of uninterrupted email time – one mid-morning and a second in the afternoon. Use a timer to keep you focused and on track. Plan on spending 45 minutes – one hour reviewing email that needs to be handled right away. The rest can wait. When you are checking email, try and stay focused. That means not allowing internal and external distractions. Let phone calls go to voicemail and indicate that you are “busy” on your calendar. If you think of something that needs to be done, jot it down on a pad of paper and continue to read and answer email. Make the best use you can of the email time you’ve allotted yourself.

3. Move or drag email out of the inbox. Do not let it sit there.Commit to making a decision on   each email. Delaying decisions creates havoc in your inbox. Your inbox is not a filing cabinet.   View your email inbox as just that – an In Box — where email arrives that need processing. Imagine how cluttered and messy your kitchen counters might look like if you ignored incoming snail mail. You’d be lucky to find anything.

4. Decide if the email is action or reference. Start at the top of your inbox and look at each email in order. Do not skip around. If it is action, follow the 4Ds (#5). If it is reference and will be needed again, move it to personal documents, shared files or the personal folders in the inbox. Examples of reference folders are: inactive clients, proposals, past projects, and marketing materials.

5. Use the 4D’s of Decision Making. This valuable tool eliminates a lot of the guess work about how to handle individual emails and where to move them. It is a sure-fire way to reduce the email in your inbox.

  • Delete – approximately 50% can be deleted. Ask yourself: Must I keep this? Can I access this information somewhere else if I ever need it? Will this information be out of date by the time I need it? Am I ever going to read it?
  • Do It – if it takes less than two minutes.
  • Delegate It – 30% falls into the do it or delegate it category.
  • Defer It – The 20% that needs to be handled by you directly but takes more than two minutes. Move this email into one of the following locations: your task list (with a due date), your calendar (on the specific day you will work on it) or an appropriate folder to work on later.

6. Set up specific folders for action items, current projects and reference and move email to the appropriate folder. Examples of folders: To Do, To Call, Waiting For (or Pending), Read & Review, Upcoming Meetings/Events, Cases, Clients, Current Projects, Associations. My favorite personal folder is “Read Later”. The email in this folder can wait.

7. When sending an email:

  • Create a strong subject line that is clear and specific.
  • Put your main point in the first sentence; then explain.
  • Tell the reader exactly what you want.
  • Keep the length within a screen size by making your sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Use simple, concise language.
  • Leave lots of white space, making it easier to read and to follow.
  • Be sensitive to the subject – sometimes a phone call or face-to-face conversation is better.

8. Respond to the sender promptly even if you cannot give an answer right away. Let the sender know the email was received. Now the sender will not need to send a follow up note because you were proactive. That will be appreciated.

9. Use “Reply All” judiciously. Usually a reply to the sender is all that’s necessary. Not everyone needs to know you’re leaving for vacation and cannot attend the meeting.

10. Move important folders to the Cloud such as Dropbox and SugarSync. If anything happens to your hard drive, your information will be safe.

Often people with hundreds, or even thousands of emails, feel totally overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. We recommend that they set up a system that works using these tips as a guide and then manage the newest emails first. Ignore the older emails or move them into archives where you can deal with them later.

By using a few of these tips, your inbox will be manageable. Finding the email you need will be much easier. You’re the one in control now.

 

 

Outsourcing Tasks — Do It Myself Or Give It Away?

Have you ever wondered why, in spite of all the “time-saving” devices we have today — apps, technology tools, and “instant” everything — we are inundated with too much to do coupled with too little time to do it in?

A solution? Outsource jobs, tasks, or responsibilities that need to be done, but not necessarily by you.  Hire extra hands to help with the lifting, freeing you up to attend to other things.

Sometimes outsourcing makes sense while other times it doesn’t. You might be surprised to find that you can outsource more than you realize.

Professional outsourcing options can include: Accounting, IT, PR and advertising, recruiting, web design or even a productivity specialist (ahem, ahem). How many of these areas do you currently outsource professionally?

What about personal outsourcing options? Baby sitter, dry cleaners pickup and delivery, house cleaning, meal preparation, personal trainer, yard work or seasonal plantings? These outsourcers can be a huge help with work/life balance!

Our guess is that you outsource at least one, if not a lot more of the areas mentioned. We’re sure you would agree that we often count on the skills from others to get our job done.

When should you outsource? Here are some considerations:

1) Missing Expertise – You could possibly learn the skill (and maybe you will at some point) but, at the moment, it is not one of your strong suits. For instance, we depend on a website guru.

2) Time – You may be better off focusing on areas that bring in revenue and leave value-added tasks to people who do it for their day job. For example, many people count on a virtual assistant to handle administrative work remotely.

3) Resources – You may be missing the hardware, software or equipment needed to perform the task. Have you seen the size of facilities for off-site physical document storage?

4) Financial Impact – Weigh the outsourcing cost against your hourly rate. If you don’t know your hourly rate, take your salary and divide by 1080 (52 weeks x 40 hours/week) to find out your hourly rate. This is a good thing to know anyway.

5) Prefer Doing It Yourself – Use your time wisely. As long as the task does not take a lot of time and you enjoy it, then it may be a task to handle on your own.

6) Internal Resources – Take advantage of in-house staff, if available. As an example, if you have in-house counsel, outside attorneys are less likely to be needed.

What else can you outsource? What would be the impact of more outsourcing on your ability to achieve goals, manage time, and potentially reduce your work hours? What’s holding you back?

If you have trouble finding good outsourcing options, ask your social media networks for recommendations. If you are a member of professional associations, you’d be surprised what outsourcing resources those can provide. If you or someone you know is a member of Business Networking International (BNI), then you have a huge source of vetted professionals to whom you can outsource.

To do it yourself or to get help is not always an obvious decision. At some point soon, we all face this. Please let us know what you outsource and how it has benefited you.

What new organizing habit in 2013 will make you more efficient?

Can you name one new productivity technique that will help make you more productive in the new  year?  Here are a few examples:

  • Prioritizing throughout the day by constantly asking yourself “Is this the most important thing I should be doing now?”
  • Planning for the next day by using a 15-minute closing ritual (see July 31, 2012 newsletter from It’s Time To Get Organized).
  • Reducing the number of interruptions throughout the day
  • Writing a to-do list, checking it often (paper or electronic),, and keeping it front and center
  • Organizing your electronic or paper files and MAINTAINING the organization.
  • Spending less time on email by reducing the volume — unsubscribing, using rules to move specific email into different folders, giving enough information in your reply so that a return  email will not be necessary .

Let us know what new system you will try in 2013.

Putting Off An Important Task

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:

  • STOP and EVALUATE the situation. Often by thinking it out before actually doing the less important task, you will be able to weigh the advantages of both tasks and decide what to do instead of acting impulsively.
  • Decide WHEN to do both tasks and put the time on your calendar. If you choose the less important one now, then set another time to tackle the critical project.
  • FOLLOW THROUGH on the appointment to complete the important project. If you continue to rocrastinate, ask yourself why and what you can do to complete it. Often times writing it down on a piece of paper is a big help, especially if you are a visual learner.
  • ASK A FRIEND for help – to shadow you, work alongside of you, or to serve as an accountability partner.

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.

 

 

 

 

How To Reduce Unwanted Mail

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:

  • —  Magazines and catalogs I have no intention of reading.
    —  Coupon flyers I have no intention of cashing.
    —  Special offers from local retailers, land companies, real estate firms, etc. I have no intention of using.

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.

  • Catalogs
  • Credit Offers
  • Magazine subscriptions, newsletters, periodicals, promotional mailings
  • Other Mail Offers such as: donation requests, bank offers and retail promotions

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
your
mailbox.

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.