Tag Archives | productivity

How Are You Spending Your Most Valuable Currency

The Passage of Time
Image by ToniVC via Flickr

Are you neglecting the things that matter?

Do you think you’re somehow different than the rest of us? That you have more hours in the day or can get more done miraculously if you just get organized enough?

Let me tell you right now, FORGET IT! There is only so much any one person can accomplish at one time. We’re told we can have and do it all, but that is a bold faced lie, a sales pitch of productivity system marketing.

Be honest. Where are you falling short?

Full disclosure: I am a chronic over-scheduler, over-committer and plate-overflower ( I just made that term up.) I know I am not alone in the disease to “DO MORE.” But when we try to squeeze in more we tend to neglect the things that matter most, health, family, enjoyment of life.

In some unfathomable twist of brain logic we tend to spend time on those things that don’t really matter in the long-term picture of our lives. Why do we do this? I don’t know. It’s a puzzle of the human psyche. Perhaps someone wiser than I can figure out that puzzle eventually.

Mini: Mission: My marching orders are to figure out what really matters, place a premium priority and focus on those aspects of my life and cut back or delete those that don’t.  I invite you, no; I implore you to join me.

Time is our most valuable currency, yet most of us squander it so easily. (Feel free to tweet that.)

What are the things that really matter to you?

Are you spending enough time on those things?

What are the things that really won’t matter 20 years from now?

Are you spending too much time on the things that really don’t matter that much?

Do you check your email first thing in the morning instead of taking time to exercise or eating breakfast with your family? I’m sure you’ll be glad of that when your health fails and your kids are gone.

Do you spend too much time on social media and information intake? Unless that’s your job, (and sometimes even if it is your job,) you’ll get better results if you spend your time actually producing “work.” Those things are tools.

And while we’re talking about social media…is Facebook really more important than reading with your kids or having an actual conversation with your husband?

We don’t like to think that we’re squandering our time; I know I sure don’t.

But our schedule and habits tell the real story… Take a look…if you dare.

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18 Minutes That Can Save You Hours

It’s so easy to get off track…and sometimes we need a reminder. I was just listening to an interview by one of my favorite podcasters, Accidental Creativewhere he was discussing time management, or maybe more accurately ‘priority management,’ with Peter Bregman. I love Peter Bregman’s philosophy and process and am a fan of his book “18 Minutes.” In fact it has a prominent place on the bookshelf in my office…but I had sort of forgotten it was there. It was a good reminder that had me reaching for the book once again.

While I don’t follow Peter’s plan precisely, I do think he lays out a simple solution to a problem that plagues most of us; too much to do, a never-ending task list, and the overwhelming struggle to master the issue of time management.

To be fair, his 18 minutes a day process alone is not the entire solution. He goes beyond daily task management, to address the larger issues that overwhelm us, not being happy and fulfilled with what we’re doing, feeling like we’re beating our heads against the wall and becoming more clear about where we want to go with our lives.

With strategies like using the Four Elements of Focus, hourly reminders and learning to pause.

“A brief pause will help you make a smarter move. Know what outcome you want before you respond.”

- Peter Bregman

Here’s a quick summary of the “18 Minutes” process…Read the book for the full explanation…

STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you’ve been productive and successful? Write those things down.

Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.

STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.

STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?

The power of rituals is their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again. And so the outcome of a ritual is predictable too. If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused. It’s simple. This particular ritual may not help you swim the English Channel while towing a cruise ship with your hands tied together. But it may just help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.

And, at the end of the day, isn’t that a higher priority?

Let me know your thoughts on this book?

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If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!

tbroke 

I constantly hear people apologizing for their perceived lack of doing things the “right” way.

Why? Just because some expert – myself included – tells you the “best way” to do something, doesn’t mean it’s best for you…

Let’s See…

Can you find things when you need them?

Are your bills paid on time?

Does your family eat relatively healthy most of the time?

Does everybody get where they need to go…on time?

Do you complete projects you start?

Are people pleased with your work?

 

I’m constantly thinking about better, more efficient ways to operate – new technology, new ideas, new products are everywhere – but are they necessarily better?

Sure, there might be better solutions, but if it’s working…

If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it!

Do you have things you do in “not the best way” that seem to be working for you nonetheless?

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5 Questions You Need To Ask Before You Do Anything

Question

We do, do, do all day long, a million things – well maybe it’s only 10 or 20 or 100, but it certainly feels like a million – yet we rarely ask, ask, ask any questions. We dive right in without giving any thought to what we’re doing or why. Or we put it off, twirl it around a bit, put it off some more, then lament why we haven’t done it – or maybe that’s just me…

Don’t you want to make your life easier?

I find that when I’m operating in my stable, sane, organized and calm mode – which sadly doesn’t happen often enough – I do better if I question myself before I begin tackling anything. Whether it’s a simple task, a complex problem, a new situation, a difficult circumstance or a complicated project taking a minute to think can make a huge difference in your attitude and outcome.

Just answering these five quick questions can make whatever you’re doing so much simpler, usually faster, often with better results and nearly always less stressful.

Why am I doing this?

What are my expectations?

How much time do I have?

What tools or resources do I have/need?

Do I need help?

Now, if you’re just making the family dinner, something which happens daily…hopefully…the answer may simply be

  • To feed my family
  • A reasonably tasty, fairly healthy meal
  • 30 minutes
  • Appropriate kitchen tools and necessary ingredients (if I’ve planned ahead or am really lucky)
  • I could use some help chopping vegetables or setting the table from my kids.

If you’re working on a work presentation, the answers will be much different, but still fairly simple

  • To advance my career, to make my boss happy, I’ve been assigned the work, I want to contribute, or honestly because they pay me to do it
  • Prepare a convincing, visually attractive, comprehensive and interesting presentation
  • A week
  • I have the outline and know the audience, but I need more data and graphics
  • I can ask Bill for sales data for the last year and Julie for some help with the visual graphics portion.

It should only take a minute, literally in most cases. And if you don’t know the answers…think very carefully about doing anything until you do. That’s a recipe for disaster…or at least a stress bubbling, headache making, cookie eating, wine drinking time. (Shoot…maybe that’s just me again.)

At any rate, save yourself some time and stress and give it a try.

Do you usually pause and think before you act or do you find yourself just diving in to get it done most of the time?  

Please feel free to post a comment or post on our Facebook page.

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Stop Being So Productive…It Might Be Bad For Your Health

Productivity

Yes, you read that right! Stop trying to be so productive…at least some of the time.

(Thanks to my husband for this picture…which inspired this post and got me thinking, though that probably wasn’t his intention at all…he probably just thought it was funny.)

And it is funny…and yet it’s also kinda serious.

If you expect to be productive every day, you’re setting yourself up for disaster…burn out, disappointment, stress, plus we’ll all find you annoying…

Every once in a while, just forget about trying to be productive and do whatever you feel like doing…or do nothing at all…which might be the hardest thing to do for many of us…

Do you ever put aside the need to be productive? Does it feel less stressful? Or does it make you antsy?

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