What Is Timeboxing?

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Large Clock on a Glass Wall;; What Is Timeboxing?

All of us have experienced that 30-minute task that morphed into a full-day project. After all, without time constraints, work can easily drag on throughout the day. This phenomenon is known as Parkinson’s Law, which says “work expands to fill the time available for completion.” Thankfully, you can regain control of your schedule by timeboxing.

When you use timeboxing to manage your work, you can overcome procrastination, regain lost productivity, and focus on the work that matters. Ultimately, the goal is to spend less time planning work and more time working.

What Is Timeboxing?

By timeboxing, you allocate a set amount of time to a specific task on your calendar.

Instead of just working until something is done, you decide when and how much time you will dedicate to it. To put it another way, timeboxing means scheduling a specific amount of time for a particular task in your calendar.

Basically, it’s the same as scheduling a meeting. You pick the day, as well as the start and end times. And most importantly, you reserve time in your calendar to avoid calendar conflicts.

Once you reserve a slot time, you should treat it like an appointment. If you work on a time-boxed task, you will not be interrupted by reschedulings or distractions.

In the case of larger tasks, you may need to reserve several blocks of time ahead of time. You can effectively schedule and prioritize your time with this approach.

“Timeboxing will change your life,” explains Nir Eyal. “It works because it uses well-researched technique psychologists call, ‘setting an implementation intention,’ which is just a fancy way of saying, ‘planning out what you are going to do and when you will do it.'”

No wonder leaders like Bill Gates and Elon Musk have sung the praises of this practice.

The Pros and Cons of Timeboxing

Timeboxing has several advantages. Among the main benefits are:

  • You’ll be more intentional about your work. Creating a timebox requires prioritizing tasks and deciding how long they should take. The more you think about these details for every task, the more aware you are of where your time is going.
  • It is easier to “force yourself” to tackle those tasks you have procrastinated on or that you know you will struggle with.
  • Setting strict limits on when and how much time you will spend on a particular task will help you organize your schedule more effectively. In addition, you’ll be more productive and focused if you don’t get interrupted or distracted while working on your task.
  • Reduces multitasking. The human brain is incapable of multitasking. The brain must re-upload information every time we switch tasks, which takes energy and time. When you timebox, you focus on one task (or a related group of tasks) at a time. This way, you won’t jump between projects.
  • It helps you manage perfectionism, overprocessing and overdoing.
  • Establishes a routine. You can gain a better understanding of your day. When you schedule your timeboxes in your calendar, you can clearly see when each task will be completed. When you schedule your work in advance, you will be less likely to get caught up in the “guessing game” of scheduling and can approach each day more confidently.

The Disadvantages of Timeboxing

Although timeboxing has many benefits, it isn’t for everyone. Listed below are some of the most common drawbacks of timeboxing and some ways to overcome them.

  • You can’t finish your task before the timebox is up. When first starting out, this is a common issue with timeboxing. However, if you track your time over time, you’ll more accurately estimate the time needed to complete specific tasks.
  • Timeboxing disrupts my flow. It can be frustrating when you have to switch tasks when the timer goes off. This is why grouping similar tasks into back-to-back time boxes is recommended.
  • By timeboxing, I rush through tasks, resulting in low-quality work. When establishing a timebox, be realistic. You shouldn’t force every ounce of productivity out of time management techniques like timeboxing. If you try that, you will burn out instead of succeeding. Instead, keep your expectations realistic and schedule downtime between tasks to prevent burnout.
  • My calendar is a bit cluttered after adding all of my timeboxes. Taking control of your calendar is possible with timeboxing. But this time management strategy is not for everyone. Another time management strategy, such as time blocking, might help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

How Timeboxing and Timeblocking Differ

When you use time blocking, you schedule a time to accomplish everything on your agenda, everything you might otherwise be unable to accomplish.

Time blocks, also called time periods, refer to shorter time periods that can be marked on your calendar and dictate starting and ending times for activities. Each time block is intended to motivate you to help you follow your schedule and complete your work on time.

Then you assess whether you completed the task before the end of the time block. If not, you allocate more time for the next attempt.

How is timeboxing different?

When you timebox, you limit activities to avoid wasting too much time.

The process involves creating time periods called “timeboxes,” which can range in length from a few minutes to several months. In addition to deadlines and goals, timeboxes may also include milestones, deliverables, and a budget.

Regardless of the outcome, you declare your work done at the end of the timebox. After that, you assess whether or not you have reached your goals.

For example, you might want to clean up your office without spending the whole afternoon doing so. Whenever your 30-minute timebox runs out, you stop immediately, regardless of how much cleaning you’ve done.

Getting Started With Timeboxing

Are you interested in giving timeboxing a try? Here are nine pointers to get you started on your journey.

1. Identify appropriate tasks.

The general rule is to assign a timebox to any task you want. However, setting timeboxes for the following would be most helpful:

Those tasks you don’t want to do.

In most cases, these are time-consuming and demanding tasks, such as writing an eBook. As a consequence, your procrastination is the result of knowing you cannot complete these tasks quickly.

If you break up your work into smaller, more manageable chunks with their own deadlines and milestones, you make the task seem less daunting. Then, to reach the next one, you only need to motivate yourself.

The tasks you want to complete as quickly as possible.

Cleaning your bathroom or arranging your emails are two examples of necessary but unpleasant tasks. These tasks will either take a long time to complete or consume too much of your time.

A strict deadline will limit the time you’ll spend on the project from the get-go.

2. Differentiate between hard and soft timeboxes.

To clarify what you should do after each timebox, distinguish “hard” timeboxes from “soft” timeboxes:

  • Soft timebox. A soft timebox can be thought of as a group of smaller tasks you’ve broken down into larger ones. After completing one timebox, you move on to the next timebox. You can keep track of your work with symbolic milestones, which will help you parse it more effectively and make it easier to manage.
  • Hard timebox. A hard timebox is one you won’t think about once it’s over. You move from one completely unrelated timebox to the next as soon as you finish one. As your focus shifts to a different type of task, milestones become more apparent.

3. Make timeboxed time a priority.

You may find it tempting to rearrange, reschedule, or cancel your timeboxes when you have a busy day. Keep this to a minimum. When you have established your timeboxes, think of them as self-scheduled meetings instead of going with the flow.

By setting aside time for a specific task, you are committing to yourself that you will complete it during that time. Therefore, Timeboxes shouldn’t be canceled at the last minute, just like you wouldn’t cancel a meeting at the last minute unless absolutely necessary.

4. Visualize your time.

The best way to timebox is to make it visually appealing. To see what time limit you have on any particular task, it helps to schedule focus time on your calendar. In addition to helping you stay on schedule, it also lets others know when you will not be available.

5. Set a limit on the timebox.

How long should a timebox last if it’s realistic?

According to the widely discussed science of ultradian rhythms, you should never allocate more than 90 minutes to any task in one sitting.

The amount can, however, be reduced. For example, feel free to set a five-minute time limit for brainstorming tasks that will take about five minutes.

It’s entirely up to you how long your timeboxes are and how many tasks you’ve got to accomplish. But, regardless of the timebox length, taking a break after 90 minutes is always a good idea.

6. Take breaks between timeboxes.

Breaks help you stay focused longer. Again, science shows that your attention begins to wane after 90 minutes, but it might wane much earlier. To keep your routine smooth, you must plan ahead for breaks.

It is possible, for example, to work for 45 minutes and then take a 15-minute break. This will give you a full hour.

Also, you should make the most of these breaks. I recommend taking a break during your break time to let your eyes rest, primarily if you work all day in front of a computer. Try stretching or taking a short walk outside instead.

As soon as you return, you’ll have regained your focus and concentration, just in time to work for another 45-minute timebox.

7. Set timers.

As soon as you’ve assigned time to each task, set a timer to remind you when it’s time to move on to the next one. You will not only be motivated to work efficiently if you set a specific period of time. But you will also ensure you don’t leave out other important projects as well.

8. Similar tasks should be grouped together.

It is best to create individual timeboxes for most tasks and initiatives to timebox effectively. This is because it takes time and mental energy to switch between tasks, even with timeboxing. Therefore, tasks should be grouped in adjacent timeboxes to avoid this problem. By doing this, your brain will stay on the same “track” even while you work on individual projects.

In other words, even if you switch timeboxes, grouping similar tasks will make it easier for you to stay focused and flow.

9.  Review, rinse, and repeat.

Review your progress at the end of every timebox or day. Can you learn anything and apply it to your future schedules if you complete all your tasks?

If not, ask yourself why. Did you allow enough time for the task to be completed? What distracted you or derailed you?

What is Timeboxing? was originally published on Calender.com by John Hall. Featured Image Credit: Thomas Brenac; Pexels.com. Thank you!

7 Ways to Make Your Waiting Room Cozier This Fall

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7 Ways to Make Your Waiting Room Cozier This Fall

Your waiting room is the place where you make a first impression on your customers. There’s nothing worse than walking into a dirty, unkempt, and unwelcoming waiting area. For whatever reason people find themselves in such a room, it should feel like a safe space for what’s next. Waiting rooms are an opportunity to make your clients feel well cared for and valued.

Are you looking to create a more pleasant waiting room experience for your customers this fall? Instead of going full-blown pumpkin patch, create a cozy, simple environment with these tips:

1. Change up outdated seasonal elements.

The season has turned, so replace the summer magazines with fall ones. Take down the beach artwork and hang up some fall-themed artwork instead. Keep decorations cool and classy by opting for smaller, muted-colored elements instead of large, colorful pieces. Swap out your summer throw pillows and rug for a fall-feeling oasis.

It should go without saying that you need to keep your waiting room clean. But customers will like seeing that your business goes the extra mile to update the space along with the seasons.

2. Add some light fall scents.

An inviting space should engage all your customers’ senses, so don’t neglect the sense of smell. From fallen leaves to cloves and cinnamon, the aromas of fall are a delight, so consider adding these scents to your waiting room.

That said, be sure to select ones that account for people with sensitivities to strong fragrances. You want your waiting room to be pleasant and inviting, not headache-triggering. Lightly spray the room each morning before customers arrive or place reed diffusers around the room with a popular fall scent.

3. Create a kids corner.

Get creative with your kids’ corner in the fall. Have fall-themed activities to keep children busy in a designated area. Ditch the vacation-themed coloring books and replace them with pumpkins and farm animal pages. Opt for washable markers to ensure your young visitors’ artistic efforts don’t become permanent features of the space.

Create a specific project kids can do and display the results in the kids’ corner when they’re complete. You might, for example, ask children to write what they’re thankful for on a leaf-shaped cutout. Or connect the activity to your business: print coloring pages with a pumpkin dressed as a lawyer or a scarecrow holding a stethoscope. Remember to have a staff member tidy the corner up throughout the day to keep things neat.

4. Consider warmer lighting.

Say you manage a doctor’s or dentist’s office. Sure, people are there for medical care, but your waiting room shouldn’t make them feel like they’re already on the exam table. Bright white fluorescent lighting might be the default in most business settings, but it’s hardly your only option.

To warm up your waiting area, consider lighting alternatives that would make your visitors feel more welcome. Try yellow lights, Edison light bulbs, or lamp lighting around the room. A golden glow equals a perfect fall day.

5. Offer seasonal treats and refreshments.

Fall is harvest time, so treat your customers to the bounty of the season by offering seasonal refreshments. This can be as simple as setting out a basket of fresh fruit, such as apples or pears. If you’re feeling more ambitious, provide individually wrapped pastries made with recently harvested fruits. Fall-themed granola or trail mix is an easy on-the-go snack.

Once the weather starts cooling down, offer beverage options besides water and coffee. Hot tea, apple cider, or cocoa will warmly welcome your customers and make your space smell delicious.

6. Bring in plants.

For an instant homey feeling, add a few low-maintenance plants to your waiting area. Use fall-colored pots to bring warmth to the area. No window? No worries. Plants like pothos and philodendrons will thrive in little to no sunlight in the autumn weather. Not only do they make your waiting room more inviting, but these plants provide additional oxygen in your space.

Not into having to water plants but open to fresh flowers? Grocery stores usually have beautiful fall bouquets filled with red and orange hues that scream fall. Pick up a bouquet once a week to add to the coffee table, adding instant life and a focal point to the room.

7. Establish a clear and friendly check-in process.

Cozy doesn’t just mean a snuggly blanket. To feel comfortable, visitors must feel welcome. By greeting clients with a smiling face, you’re already creating a welcoming check-in process.

While they’re checking in, mention the autumnal treats they can help themselves to. If they have children in tow, point out the fall-themed activities in your kids corner. In case your front desk staff gets busy, clear signage can instruct arriving clients on the check-in process so they don’t stand around awkwardly.

By creating a cozier environment, you will usher in a positive customer service experience for your clients. Through thoughtful snacks, lighting, and scents, you’ll show that you pay close attention to detail. This will resonate with your clients and convince them they’ve come to the right place for their service. First impressions matter, and you’ll be off to a great start by following these tips.

Featured Image Credit: Curtis Adams; Pexels.com. Thank you!

Calendar Full? 5 Ways To Maximize Your Meetings

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Calendar Full? 5 Ways To Maximize Your Meetings

No company operates in a vacuum, and very few businesses are one-person operations. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you’ll likely need to coordinate with clients. In short, business means collaboration. Working with others translates to the necessity of meetings. And meetings can either be a drain for your schedule and productivity. Or, when you maximize meetings, a chance to ensure you’re on the same page with your collaborators, work out kinks and develop actionable plans for your projects.

Most of us have experienced those meetings that we know by the “could have been an email” trope. They’re the ones that seem to have no clear direction, in which the group collectively spins its wheels. This might be due to participants getting sidetracked or simply because the content of the meeting is redundant.

It’s not a great feeling to sit through an entire hour while silently stressing about the tasks we could be doing instead. Packed calendars are ubiquitous; no one wants or deserves a time-wasting meeting. If you’re in charge of periodic or regular check-ins with your team or clients, everyone involved will thank you for running smooth and effective meetings that support their tasks.

A great meeting should help participants resolve stuck points, get team members on the same page, clarify project next steps and generally save time and energy. Carefully planning your meetings and sticking to the plan will help the members of your team get the most out of face-to-face time.

Remember that time is money and budget meeting time accordingly.

It’s important to periodically evaluate the frequency and time demands of your team’s meeting schedule. Ask yourself:

Do you need a weekly or bi-weekly face-to-face to stay on track?

Can some meetings be skipped if no pressing concerns need to be addressed?

How will holding a meeting impact your team’s productivity: will it enhance it by alleviating stuck points, or will it hinder it by pulling people out of their zones?

Evaluate whether your team requires standing meetings.

Try not to get stuck in the mindset that meetings, especially standing meetings, are necessary to keep everyone moving forward together. Sometimes, it really can be an email. Being thoughtful about when and how you conduct your meetings could translate into significant cost savings for your business. Remember, you’re paying for everyone’s time during that meeting. You’re also potentially losing productive time on tasks if you’re meeting unnecessarily. It might be enlightening to get out a calculator and run the numbers for your company’s spend on weekly meeting time.

Have a clear meeting agenda and stay on task.

When you and your team have determined that a gathering is warranted, whether virtual or in-person, it’s vital to have a clear action plan. Before each meeting, clearly identify what you want to accomplish, who needs to be involved and how you will organize the time. Try not to require attendance from teammates if you don’t need to take up their time. It’s essential to create and share an agenda for each meeting – and stick to it.

“If I don’t have an agenda in front of me, I walk out,” Annette Catino, chief executive of the QualCare Alliance Network, told the New York Times. “Give me an agenda or else I’m not going to sit there, because if I don’t know why we’re in the meeting, and you don’t know why we’re there, then there’s no reason for a meeting.”

Tips for Maximizing Your Meetings

Developing a plan ahead of time will help everyone involved know what to expect, keep discussions corralled and save everyone time.

Here are five tips you can implement today to help you and your team ensure efficiency and that you all get the most out of your collaborative time.

1. Have a meeting agenda available for your team before you get together.

A well-thought-out meeting agenda is the heart and soul of effective team collaboration. Think of it as a playbill for success, a guide that sets the stage for smooth performance. Your agenda should include the essential who, why, what, and how information.

Your team should know who is attending. Communicate expectations to each attendee for their contribution to the conversation. You should also have a clear goal established, even for standing meetings. What are your team’s pain points and how will you address them during this time? If you can’t answer the big “W” questions, you may want to back up. Assess whether your team needs to meet at all.

The agenda does not need to be a fully fleshed-out document, with paragraphs of explanations or instructions. Instead, simply identify the items that need to be dealt with, in an order that makes sense, and note who is invited to contribute to each point. You may end up going off script at times, but having a clear outline will go a long way to keeping everyone on task.

2. Use your meeting agenda to stay on task and ensure efficiency.

To help maximize any meeting, it’s vital for every participant to receive a copy of the agenda beforehand. If possible, allow enough time for feedback and questions. You might find your team helps you improve on your plan beforehand.

If you’re a traditional brick-and-mortar operation, you could distribute hard copies of your agenda before you meet. But that isn’t a viable option for hybrid or remote gatherings. Emailing an agenda document to everyone is a possible solution. Or, you might consider tech tools that can help organize the process from start to finish.

One tech tool option to maximize your meetings is Fellow. Fellow’s software includes meeting templates, so you don’t have to start with a blank page when organizing your agenda. The agendas also allow you to keep your team accountable and informed about key decisions. Having a multi-feature tool for your team is one way to keep everyone on the same page and keep track of needs and progress at a glance.

3. Stay on task and cut down on distractions.

Depending on your culture, you may want to spice up your meetings a little to keep your team engaged. But if you do, it’s a good idea to keep everyone otherwise focused and on task. Make sure everyone has the space to contribute and you’re working to help with pain points or sticking points.

If you’re running the meeting, strive to serve as its moderator. Foster open communication. Be ready to step in when it’s time to redirect or move the meeting along to the next agenda item. As you tick down the list, stick to a rhythm of communication, brainstorming, and settling.

Talk about where you’re stuck or what needs to be addressed about a particular point. Allow the team a reasonable amount of time (given your schedule and the meeting length) to discuss approaches and then commit to a strategy to address it before moving on. If something doesn’t work, you can revisit it later.

4. Encourage note-taking and active listening.

Meetings can be rich opportunities for teams to work through roadblocks collaboratively. If you plan them out thoughtfully, stick to the plan and allow participants to bring their challenges and solutions to the table, you can accomplish workplace miracles.

Coaching your team on active listening (listening to understand vs. listening to respond), and good note-taking will help participants maximize the benefits they reap from each face-to-face meeting.

Some form of note-taking, whether by hand or with a digital device, will help team members remember next steps and other action items. If you meet online, you might consider creating a digital recording of important meetings. Attendees can review details asynchronously later.

5. Go forth and turn those bullet points into action.

You want your time to be used to maximum efficiency when you gather your team. As a result, make sure your meeting allows for planning and the next steps. You could have a recap at the end of each session, quickly summarizing each relevant topic, outlining how the team will address the issue, and clarifying who is responsible for what.

To maximize your meetings, you could also work this into each agenda item as you move through the meeting itself. Everyone should leave the table (whether it’s in your meeting room or virtual meeting space) with a clear understanding of actions they will take to move forward. If each attendee leaves the meeting empowered with the knowledge of what and how to do next, you can save significant time and energy as a project progresses.

Whether you and your team operate in person, remote or hybrid, meetings are likely a staple of your weekly or monthly scheduling. You need to collaborate, and sometimes face-to-face is the best way to do that. These steps can help you ensure a smooth and productive meeting online or in person, and help you avoid wasting your and your team members’ time.

In short, great meetings involve a lot of clear communication, from beginning to end. Start by evaluating whether you should have a meeting and who is essential to the process. Clearly outline points to be addressed in a succinct meeting agenda. Keep the meeting flowing on task. Ensure everyone walks out knowing what to do next. A little extra planning and preparation will save your team a healthy amount of time, cost and stress.

Calendar Full? 5 Ways To Maximize Your Meetings was originally published on Calendar.com by Deanna Ritchie. Featured Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels.com. Thank you!

4 Ways to Ensure Your Software Offers Exceptional Customer Experience

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4 Ways to Ensure Your Software Offers Exceptional Customer Experience

In today’s digital age, customers have thousands of companies at their fingertips. Consequently, if you want people to choose your business over that of your competitors, providing an exceptional customer experience (CX) is essential.

For many businesses, this starts with their customer-facing software. Customer-facing software refers to digital solutions designed to create a positive user experience. As a result, these solutions have the power to ease common pain points and turn casual customers into loyal patrons.

Not sure whether your customer-facing software is up to snuff? Don’t fret. There are simple steps you can take to improve your digital customer service. Outlined below are four strategies to ensure your customer-facing software exceeds user expectations.

1. Use an appointment scheduler.

If you’re in the service industry, your company likely relies on customer appointments. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t understand the importance of accessible appointment scheduling. Complicated scheduling processes and old-school telephone calls frustrate customers. Therefore, outdated tech is driving them to competitors that are more convenient to book with.

Stop losing clients by making it easy for them to book appointments online. Digital appointment schedulers allow customers to schedule appointments without ever needing to call your company.

These software solutions are available 24/7, so customers can schedule appointments at any time of day. For example, do customers need to cancel? No worries; digital appointment schedulers provide options for people to reschedule and edit appointments.

When choosing your appointment booking software, look for one with calendar integration.

While most schedulers have a built-in calendar, some don’t integrate with other calendaring solutions. Consequently, this can cause you to miss appointments if you don’t check your appointment scheduler regularly. Instead, find a solution that instantly updates all of your calendars when an appointment is booked.

2. Have a mobile-friendly website.

Nowadays, people are glued to their smartphones.

A 2021 survey assessed that almost 50% of the people surveyed spend at least five–if not, six hours on their phones every day. As a result, this means there’s a 50/50 chance that customers will pull up your website on their mobile devices.

If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, it may be challenging for people to navigate from their phones.

Mobile-friendly websites now use a responsive design. Therefore, this means your site automatically displays properly, no matter what device users are on. Without responsive design, mobile users will just see a smaller version of your desktop website. These are often hard to navigate from mobile devices and can leave customers frustrated.

In order to implement a responsive design, your site must use a fluid grid. This grid style appropriately sizes elements based on what device customers are using. Website developers can implement a fluid grid by editing your site’s CSS. But if that feels too technical, many simple website builders offer basic templates for mobile-friendly sites.

3. Provide self-help options.

When customers encounter a problem or have a question, they don’t want to get on the phone and wait to speak to a representative. Instead, they’d rather quickly discover the answers they’re looking for themselves.

Providing self-service options gives customers the tools they need to solve their own problems. As a result, this leads to faster resolutions and allows your customer service team to focus their energy on other tasks.

There are many ways to add customer self-service to your website. Two popular options are company knowledge bases and chatbots. A knowledge base is a portion of your site that houses information to help customers learn about your service. This section of the site may include blogs, guides, and a FAQ page.

Chatbots are AI-driven computer programs that process and simulate human conversation. They’re often used to answer basic customer questions like “What is your pricing?” or “Can I reschedule my appointment?” Chatbots can find information for customers more quickly than humans and tailor content based on the conversation. Therefore, this helps customers find answers faster than if they were speaking with an employee.

4. Collect customer feedback.

You’ve simplified scheduling, created a mobile-friendly website, provided self-help options, and sought at all turns to provide an exceptional customer experience. But how do you know if the changes you’ve made have impacted your customers’ experience?

You ask them.

Companies that provide a quality CX understand the importance of feedback. This information can be used to gauge customer satisfaction and make improvements to your service. Additionally, asking for and implementing feedback signals to customers that you value their insights.

Customer satisfaction surveys are a simple way to gather answers to specific customer service questions. Deploy feedback surveys after a service has been provided to better understand the customer experience. If you notice a negative feedback trend, make a plan to address the highlighted issues. Then share this plan with your customers so they know you take their opinions seriously.

Start Improving Your CX Today

Your customers have more options today than ever before. If you want to stand out from the competition, it’s critical that you provide an exceptional customer experience. This starts with your customer-facing software.

Featured Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels.com. Thank you!

5 Tips for Waking Up Earlier

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5 Tips for Waking Up Earlier

Not everyone is a natural morning person. Some like to sleep in and get a few extra Z’s. Ever heard of “beauty sleep?” Getting some extra rest is definitely okay unless your schedule no longer allows for it and you need to start waking up earlier.

Maybe it’s a new job, or you’re returning to school after the summer break. Whatever the reason, if you’re not used to waking up early, making the switch can be difficult.

Most people don’t enjoy getting less sleep. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this that don’t involve missing out on much-needed rest. There’s more to it than just going to sleep earlier.

Making some simple changes to your mornings can make a significant difference. Starting to make these changes might seem daunting, but in reality, it’s not so tough. Here are some tips to help yourself wake up earlier and conquer the day.

1. Draft a schedule.

One way to feel more prepared for the next day? Utilizing a schedule should be your go-to move. Scheduling is the perfect way to lay out what you need to get done, then plan your day accordingly.

Simply write down what you know you need to do the next day, and assign the tasks to different times of the day. It can make your days easier because you can visualize what your day requires. Also, you won’t have to figure out what task to do next at the moment. If indecision rules your days, adding this form of structure can help keep you on course.

You don’t have to go crazy planning ahead. Some people aren’t big schedulers, and that’s okay. That can be enough if you want to think ahead only the day before. There are no rules to break here.

When making your schedule, remember to allow enough time for each task. Additionally, be realistic about how many things you do in a day. The point is not to overwhelm yourself; it’s to make your life easier. One thing you can schedule ahead is a morning routine (see #2). Seeing what you need to do in the mornings can help give a sense of order.

2. Create a morning routine.

One of the secrets of waking up earlier is to follow a routine. A morning routine can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. If you’re new to the concept, going easier on yourself is your best bet.

Making a routine is simple — have an order of the activities you need to accomplish in the morning.

For example, the first thing you might do when you wake up is brush your teeth. Then, you might shower. Basically, you’re mapping out what you’ll be doing and giving it some order.

There are different aspects of morning routines. What kind of morning do you want? That might seem like a loaded question, but give it some thought. Do you want to exercise? Make a nice breakfast? Time to journal or meditate? These are things to consider when planning a routine for your mornings.

Perhaps most importantly, remember to make your routine realistic. If you’re not used to going on morning runs and coming home to a green smoothie, don’t expect this by tomorrow. It can take a moment to get adjusted, so start small. For example, go on a short run your first day, and maybe pre-make your smoothie the night before.

Whatever you choose to include in your new routine, make sure it’s not too much to handle. A routine is all about simplifying your time, not adding extra stress. If you’re lying awake at night, dreading everything you have to do when you wake up — it won’t help you. Go easy on yourself!

3. Avoid the snooze button.

When trying to make yourself wake earlier, it can be so tempting to press “snooze.” The extra five or ten minutes might feel like it would do you some good. However, this way of thinking is actually the opposite of reality.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, hitting snooze can be harmful to your sleep health. You might condition your brain to expect those extra minutes, which would be counterintuitive. The short sleep period is not actually restful, so it’s a waste of time. You might even feel more sleepy afterwards.

So how do you stop relying on the snooze button? A little self-control can go a long way. Do all you can not to be tempted to get those extra few minutes. Additional minutes that are not beneficial, if you remember. Try counting 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 — and hop out of bed.

Get up and do some jumping jacks. Splash your face with cold water. Anything to get yourself out of bed and feel a bit more energized. It can be hard at first, but your body will thank you later.

4. Have something to look forward to.

It might seem silly, but anticipating something you enjoy is one of the simplest ways to get yourself up and at them. If you have an activity you’ve planned, and you’re looking forward to — it’s less tempting to stay in bed. It’s some simple psychology, but it works.

Think about something that would motivate you to get up. Is it a yummy breakfast? Maybe a refreshing run outside? Or, perhaps it’s a delicious cappuccino that helps give you that caffeine boost. Whatever it may be, having something that gets you out of bed is great.

If you haven’t used this method before, it could be a good one to try. First, however, think about how much time this rewarding activity will take. You’ll need to factor that into your morning schedule. Or, you might have to adjust your wake-up time.

If you think a mouthwatering breakfast sounds like it would get you up, try that. And, there are steps you can take to make the process easier on yourself in the morning. Having to make a complete breakfast from scratch could take some time. Instead, prepare some things in advance to make cooking a quicker task (see #5).

5. Prep the night before.

Another step you can take to help yourself wake up earlier is to prepare in advance for your morning routine. The less you have to do right out of bed, the easier it can be to get everything done. This can help you feel less stressed about the morning time.

For example, meal prepping for breakfast can free up your mornings. By cooking breakfast the night before, all you have to do is reheat. Or, if you don’t want to make all of it in advance, just prepare some parts of it beforehand.

Let’s say you want an omelet, but don’t like the taste of reheated eggs — prepare to have a fresh omelet by chopping up any vegetables you want to add to the omelet. If you want to add meat, like bacon or sausage, cook those the night before. Now all you have to do is throw it all in a pan in the morning.

How about a little less of an effort? Even just laying out products you’ll use or clothes you’ll wear the next day can help. Picking out your outfit the night before can cut down on time in the mornings, especially if you’re indecisive.

If you wear makeup, lay out what you’ll use on your dresser or vanity. You’ll have less reaching and searching to do when using everything. This can really help with fuzzy morning brain, too.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

It’s important to remind yourself that making adjustments can be hard. Especially if you’re not a morning person, changing the time you wake up can be extra difficult.

It might not be smooth sailing from the get-go, and that’s okay. Don’t put yourself down for any struggle you may feel during the process.

No one said being human is easy. Remember to give yourself some grace. Utilize the tools around you — make a schedule, have a reward ready, prep the night before. Whatever it takes to reach your goal, be sure to use it.

5 Tips for Waking Up Earlier was originally published on Calendar.com by Angela Ruth. Featured Image Credit: Los Muertos Crew; Pexels.com. Thank you!

How to Organize Your Best Tailgating Season Yet

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How to Organize Your Best Tailgating Season Yet

It’s that time of year again — the weather is cooling down, and leaves are starting to change colors. Fall is here, and you know what that means? Football. And what better way to enjoy the sport than hosting the best tailgating party ever?

You might think hosting a tailgate party is easy. All you have to do is show up and eat, right?

Not necessarily. A great deal goes into throwing a tailgating party, and it’s essential to be organized. In this article, we list six tips to help you plan an unforgettable tailgating party this fall.

1. Pick a date.

The earlier you start planning your tailgate party, the easier it’ll be. Remember, you’re dealing with other people and need to give them enough notice to plan accordingly. You also want to make sure you have enough time to organize everything. From what foods to make to what decorations, you must have a plan in place before diving right in.

A good rule of thumb is to start planning your party about eight weeks before the event.

So, first things first, pull up your calendar and find a time that works for you. Luckily, tailgating season is several weeks long, so you can pick and choose what game day you want for your party. Or maybe you want to host the tailgate every game day? Then you really want to start planning early.

Once you have the date, figure out who you want to attend your party. Some people prefer creating a guest list first, so they can work with other attendees on finding the perfect date. However, if you prefer this method, ensure you aren’t relying too heavily on other people’s opinions. After all, you’re hosting the tailgate and should have the final say on when it’s held.

2. Get the tickets.

Buying your game day tickets is crucial to preparing for tailgate season. After all, it’s not a tailgate without a football game.

So to ensure you and your friends get good seats together, start looking for tickets early. This is especially true if you’re trying to attend a post-season game. Those are known to sell out fairly quickly.

You also want to take into account who’s playing. For example, some teams have a large fanbase, which could cause an increase in ticket prices and the speed at which they sell out.

There are a few tips you should know when shopping for tickets. For one, look at afternoon games rather than night games as they tend to be more expensive. You also want to look at third-party websites, like Stubhub, as those tickets can be cheaper.

A lot of people recommend waiting until the last minute to buy tickets. While tickets can drop in price the closer it gets to the game, the seat choice will be limited. So if you want great seats, start looking earlier rather than later.

3. Send out invitations.

If you’re hosting a tailgate party, aim to send out your invitations no later than four weeks before the date. That should be enough time for attendees to determine whether they can attend.

Speaking of which, it’s a good idea your invitation includes a request that the guest RSVP by a specific date. This can help you and the guests plan accordingly.

There are several ways you can send out invitations. You can mail a physical invitation or send a digital one via email. Opting for the ladder can save you time and cost. If you have your guest’s email addresses, simply create a calendar invitation on Gmail.

Make sure you label the invitation accordingly so there’s no confusion. For example, “Tailgate Party.” Then, add your guest’s email addresses. There is also a space where you can provide additional notes, like potluck instructions, addresses, etc. The more information you share, the smoother the event will go. Make sure you double-check the information you provided is accurate before hitting send.

4. Find a location.

Once you have your ticket, look at where the game is held. Typically, tailgate parties are held outside the venue. Make sure you know how big the parking lot is and have a good idea of where your group will be.

Remember that deciding on your spot is just the first step — you need to claim your spot on game day. To do that, you will want to wake up early (depending on what time the game starts) and drive to the venue. It’s a good idea to arrive with a couple of your fellow tailgaters so that you can block off your spot with multiple cars.

Be sure to bring something noticeable on the day of, so the rest of your group can find you. Maybe bright-colored balloons or a streamer. Whatever it is, make sure you include how to see you on the invitation.

5. Bring furniture.

Who said you must stay in your car or stand around during a tailgate? No one!

Consider bringing some pop-up furniture to ensure you and your guests are comfortable — for instance, a canopy tent, a foldable table, and maybe a few foldable chairs. Not only does this give your fellow tailgaters a place to rest, but it can help define your space.

Having a few foldable tables can make serving and preparing food easier. It gives you a designated area to set up, regardless of how much food and drinks you plan on having.

Foldable furniture, like a tent, can protect you from the weather. Because let’s face it, September can be unpredictable, depending on where you live. The last thing you want is a little rain or snow to get in your way of a good time.

Remember, you can always request your guests bring their own foldable furniture to the tailgate. Include “bring foldable furniture” in the calendar invitation.

6. Portable is better.

Is this your first time hosting a tailgate party? Then you’re probably wondering how to transport your food and drinks from your house to the actual tailgate.

There are several ways you can go about this, depending on the type of car you’re bringing. For instance, if you have an RV, you might plan on cooking your food there, taking advantage of the fridge and counter space.

On the other hand, let’s say you’re just bringing a regular car or SUV. Since you don’t have a kitchen, you should prepare your food at home. Then, transport it using Tupperware, reusable bags, etc. If you have hot food, consider using glass containers as they hold heat better than plastic. Wrapping hot food in foil can also help keep it warm.

To keep your drinks chilled, consider purchasing a cooler if you don’t already have one. Coolers are also a convenient way to move food and beverages from one place to another. And they come in different sizes to fit your specific needs.

Are you hosting a tailgate party this fall? From the food to the camaraderie, tailgates are an excellent way for sports fanatics to get together and have a good time.

That said, hosting a party can come with some challenges, especially a tailgate party. You have to worry about finding a spot and how to transport food. Luckily, the tips above can help you organize the best tailgating party.

How to Organize Your Best Tailgating Season Yet was originally published on Calendar.com by Abby Miller. Feature Image Credit: FreePik.com. Thank you!

Level Up Customer Service: 3 Methods for Your Business

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Level Up Customer Service: 3 Methods for Your Business

Businesses may refer to them as customers, clients, patrons, shoppers, consumers, purchasers, or something different. Whatever name they choose, it describes the people they need for their business to survive…and the ongoing need to level up customer service.

All other things being equal, such as product, quality, and price point, customer service is what sets competitors apart. Consequently, it takes great customer service to bring people in, entice them back, and keep them loyal. That’s the stuff successful enterprises are made of.

Businesses that believe their customer service is delivering everything they can should beware of complacency. This is one part of doing business that requires constant feeding and attention. Customer desires are always changing, and businesses need to keep pace at a minimum — and set the pace if possible.

Even businesses that think they’re at the top of their customer service game should be looking for ways to level up. Here’s how they can serve their customers even better.

1. Adopt a continuous improvement model.

Customer service is a long game. It’s also one that touches every single internal business process, from setting prices through service after the transaction. That means it touches every tool used along the way.

Businesses should continuously assess their online scheduling software, customer data collection and management systems, and automated phone systems. And they should do so through a customer-centric lens. Does the business put the customer first in everything it does?

There’s a reason why this model is called “continuous” as opposed to “continual.” The former is uninterrupted while the latter occurs periodically.

Businesses tend to look at these systems only in annual reviews or while planning, when they should be business as usual. If a customer calls with a problem and it’s resolved, that experience should inform the next one. The information about the issue and the resolution needs to be shared with all staff to level up customer service across the organization.

Continuous improvement across the board, from appointment scheduling to payment systems, is vital to customer satisfaction. A business stands to lose 63% of customers who think they had a poor experience. Put the customer first everywhere in the business, without interruption, and improve service every day, all the time.

2. Make customer service training systematic.

There are a couple of key factors in stellar customer service. One is that everyone in the business should know how to deliver it and focus on doing so. Second is that customer service practice is always changing, which means the people delivering it need ongoing training.

Require customer service training to some degree in every employee position, from front of the house to back.

Often, individual employees are working on their own with their own customers. How is individual input shared routinely among all employees so they can all improve how they deliver their services?

Great customer service isn’t as easy as just being polite and accommodating. Solving customer complaints and issues involves asking the right questions, which not everyone knows how to do. Companies can’t count on the customer being able to express a problem, which makes questioning crucial to a good experience.

Businesses should provide ongoing, routine training on the mechanics of customer service. At the same time, they need to systematically use real customer service issues to continuously improve delivery. Managers must devote time to coaching, mentoring, and rewarding good practices.

Making customer service training systematic in a business supports that customer-centric focus. There are myriad customer service training tools even the smallest businesses can use to teach their employees how to build relationships. Use the right ones often and deliberately. Doing so will move customer satisfaction in the right direction.

3. Make the business more accessible to more customers.

Making a business more accessible to more customers means opening the doors to a much larger pool of prospects. However, accessibility goes far beyond making those doors wider or constructing wheelchair curb transitions. It also involves more than a business’s physical space.

Physical space considerations include button-activated doors, braille and audio wayfinding systems, and consistent flooring. Although laws prohibit most denials of service animals, businesses can go further. They can provide water, snacks, and relief areas for these animal helpers as well.

Customers who tend to be accompanied by children will appreciate kid-friendly spaces. Those who find children disruptive appreciate it when common spaces are designed to keep kids from disturbing them. As a result, when done cleverly, businesses can make customers in both camps happy.

Businesses should provide print and online forms and information in more than one language. Employing bilingual employees or subscribing to language translation services will likewise improve service to non-native speakers of English. To better accommodate the visually impaired, employees could learn how to use WhatsApp and its accessibility features.

Differently abled people make up a significant portion of our population. Being differently abled doesn’t mean they aren’t consumers…with money to spend! Businesses that accommodate those differences may find themselves opening their automatic doors to future loyalists.

We can always do better!

Regardless of what a business is doing right now to serve customers, it can do better.

Unless a business is the only one of its type in town, it’s going to need to find ways to be competitive. Going above and beyond in its customer service efforts will distinguish it from the others. And that will make all the difference.

Why Is Time Management Considered a Soft Skill?

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Why Is Time Management Considered a Soft Skill?

Optimizing your resume is vital when applying for a job, asking for a raise, or seeking a promotion. Obviously, factors like your education and experience play a role. However, it’s also true for the hard skills you possess, such as the specific knowledge and skills required to perform well at a job.

However, increasingly, soft skills are playing a significant role.

“93% of employers say soft skills play a critical role in their decision about whom they want to hire,” says Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter. “Those soft skills include showing up on time, willingness to learn, enthusiasm, and a can-do attitude. So when you don’t have work experience to sell, remember that you can still sell yourself.”

The term “soft skills” encompasses a wide range of abilities. However, due to people working in very different situations, hybrid situations, communication is very high on the list right now. ZipRecruiter listed communication as the most in-demand soft skill that employers are looking for. This was followed by customer service, scheduling, time management, project management, analytical thinking, and the ability to work independently.

But what exactly are soft skills? How does time management fit into the concept of “soft skills?” And, in what ways does it allow you to thrive at work?

Well, let’s answer those questions, and more, in the following article.

What are soft skills?

Often, time management is referred to as a soft skill. But what does that mean exactly? Essentially, a soft skill is a desirable trait for employers.

The soft skills you possess determine your work style and your interaction with your co-workers. The difference between hard skills and soft skills is that hard skills are technical and job-specific. In contrast, soft skills relate to professionalism, timeliness, and other essential, intangible qualities that complement the practical skills required for the job, making you an attractive candidate.

Although these skills are crucial to success at work and in your personal life, many people never learn them. Some of the most common soft skills include:

  • communication;
  • collaboration;
  • emotional Intelligence;
  • analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • creativity;
  • adaptability and flexibility;
  • leadership;
  • learning agility;
  • stress management;
  • ownership; and
  • attention to detail.

As people have gained access to colleges and technical schools, they have developed more advanced hard skills. Yet, despite this, many people lack the soft skills necessary to succeed. And again, the importance of technical or skilled skills cannot be overstated. For example, skills like coding, marketing, or speaking another language will definitely give you an edge.

However, if you have no interpersonal skills or have difficulty managing your work ethic, you will have a tough time succeeding. It is even possible that you could lose your job.

Due to this, soft skills are more important than you may realize. So do not underplay or disregard them during an interview or ask for a raise or promotion. Instead, ensure that potential employers know you are efficient, effective, and able to work with others.

Why is time management considered a soft skill?

Managing time effectively is a soft skill because it cannot be taught in a formal classroom setting. Instead, it requires practice and experience to develop.

But, more specifically, time management is considered a soft skill for the following reasons.

  • Regardless of your profession, it applies to you. Managing your time effectively is important regardless of your industry or position. In fact, unlike hard skills specific to certain industries, time management is a universal skill set.
  • You can transfer it. In addition to the previous point, soft skills can be applied to any career path. Their use is versatile and can be adapted to many different positions and settings.
  • It’s teachable. Although not traditionally taught in a classroom, soft skills like time management can be taught. Most accomplish this through training, coaching, workshops, and external mentoring.
  • Success requires it. As a soft skill, time management is crucial to success. Without time management, you will have difficulty meeting deadlines, completing tasks, and achieving your goals.
  • Soft skills strengthen workplace relationships. The last thing anyone wants to work with is someone who never meets deadlines or disrespects their time. Unfortunately, it is possible to disrupt your co-workers and make life difficult for everyone in your workplace without time management skills. The result can be friction between your co-workers.
  • It’s a life skill. The ability to manage time is not only useful at work. Your personal life can benefit from this as well. Whether completing daily chores, setting and keeping appointments, going to the gym, or spending time with family and friends, time management is an integral part of our lives. Intentionally managing your time will help you make better decisions and maintain a successful work-life balance.

Why is time management an important soft skill?

With a better understanding of soft skills, let’s look at the importance of time management at work.

  • It makes your work experience more enjoyable. You are more likely to deliver a high-quality end product on time (or before) when operating at your highest level. In turn, this boosts your confidence, motivation, and engagement.
  • Goal-setting becomes easier. By setting smarter goals, it will be easier for you to track and achieve them.
  • Provides more opportunities. By being proficient in the basics of your job, you will have more opportunities for training, career growth, promotions, and mentoring in the workplace. In addition, when you learn how to manage your time efficiently, you can gain additional skills that can last your entire career and increase your competitiveness.
  • You can make better decisions. Planning your day strategically and prioritizing the most important tasks first is the key to making wise, practical time management decisions. You will become more productive as you develop this habit and think more creatively and critically about your tasks.
  • You’ll be able to avoid stress and burnout. Allocating specific time windows for being most productive is a critical element of time management. You’ll be less stressed when you utilize these time frames and get your work done efficiently. For example, when you block out time for your priorities, you can avoid waiting until the last minute or letting distractions interrupt your workflow.
  • More personal time. A satisfying work-life balance is something we all strive for. Nevertheless, finding that balance can be difficult when your work and home to-do lists are overwhelming. We can regain our freedom by managing our time well off the clock. We won’t work odd or long hours if we have a deadline. Managing our time allows us to relax, refresh, and reset.

Types of Time Management Skills

While not an extensive list, here are some of the most essential types of time management skills you should consider developing.

Prioritizing

You may be unable to complete every task you are asked to do. And, that’s alright — despite your desire to do everything at once.

You must prioritize your tasks to accomplish what matters most in a logical order. Among the factors to consider when assigning priority are:

  • the timeframe for each task;
  • estimated timeframe;
  • the ways it might be necessary to others in the organization;
  • the consequences of not completing the task;
  • the possibility that a task could be interrupted by a bottleneck; and
  • whether it could it be delegated or outsourced to someone else.

Scheduling

Some tasks must be accomplished at specific times, so scheduling is essential. Schedules affect the flow of your day, your week, your month, and the workflow of others. Due to energy levels and demands of the day, most people are more or less productive at specific times of the day.

Keeping a schedule can also help you avoid procrastination. For example, let’s say that you need to return an important phone call. If it’s not scheduled, you may keep putting it off by saying, “I’ll get around to it.” As a consequence, you never make this important phone call.

Moreover, a schedule ensures you never miss deadlines or meetings. And, it’s pretty handy in breaking larger tasks into more manageable pieces.

Task Management

You can prevent forgetting important tasks by keeping a to-do list (properly prioritized) and integrating it into your schedule. In addition, they help you avoid spending all day thinking about your to-do list.

Keeping track of your tasks takes energy, and having to contend with everything that needs to be done throughout the week can be a burden. Keep a daily list of all the tasks you need to accomplish, and you won’t be overwhelmed. Focus on one task at a time.

How you decide to manage your tasks is totally up to you. Some prefer to create daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists. Others, however, may for techniques like batching, where you arrange your tasks in similar groups—for example, setting aside specific time blocks for email management or scheduling meetings only on Tuesdays.

Workload Management

Even though it may seem odd, pacing your work is a crucial time management skill. Working long hours or skipping breaks may improve productivity in the short term, but you will lose productivity in the long run due to exhaustion. Unless there is an emergency, it is important not to overwork. Your schedule should include necessary breaks and a reasonable end time.

Also, you can avoid burnout by knowing and implementing an optimum workload for yourself.

Minimizing Distractions

When you learn how to manage your time, you can avoid distractions. Experts recommend that you avoid distractions during work hours, such as emails, texts, and social media.

Doing this will allow you to keep your focus and utilize your time efficiently. When working, it can be tempting to let people interrupt you or let your laziness get in the way. For your schedule to run smoothly, though, you must remain focused and organized.

You should be in control of your work time as well. For instance, you should not waste time looking at irrelevant work materials on the web.

Do not lose focus. After all, there’s a reason that you set goals. You will achieve your goals much more quickly if you focus your efforts appropriately.

Delegation

It may be possible for you to delegate some tasks, depending on your line of work. As such, you need to know when to delegate and what to delegate.

At the same time, many people are reluctant to delegate, either because of their desire for control or to save money by not hiring assistants or employees. In the end, both approaches reduce productivity and increase costs.

Despite diligent time management, you may be trying to do too much if you still can’t accomplish everything on your to-do list. Remember, rather than failing at many tasks; it is better to succeed at a few of them.

How to Improve Your Time Management Skills

Are you interested in improving your time management skills? To solve this problem, you can do a few things.

Keeping a time log is a good place to start. As a result, you can audit where your time is currently being spent. Additionally, this can help you discover when you’re most productive and when you’re wasting time.

In the words of psychotherapist and writer Nathaniel Branden, “The first step toward change is awareness.”

After that, you need to be deliberate. After all, time management doesn’t just magically happen. It also involves the following.

  • Setting small blocks of intention, like 30-minutes on an activity that brings you closer to reaching a goal.
  • Use techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix to determine what your priorities are.
  • Evaluating time-wasters, such as the time spent in your inbox.
  • Get comfortable with saying “no” when you’ve packed your calendar.
  • Building a conducive work environment by keeping it clean and organized.
  • Fight back against procrastination by scheduling your most important tasks when you’re most productive.
  • Add white space to your calendar instead of scheduling every minute of your day, like blank spaces for emergencies.
  • Assessing your schedule regularly. Doing so will help you prepare and ensure your time is spent wisely.
  • Tracking the progress of your goals to hold yourself accountable.

In Conclusion

There’s no denying that we’re living in an era of change in the workplace.

Because of that, soft skills are in high demand. More and more employers recognize the importance of soft skills for employee morale and productivity. Having the right opportunities and the right environment can help you develop soft skills.

Because of this, time management is a soft skill that can enhance your career.

Why Is Time Management Considered a Soft Skill? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton. Featured Image Credit: Ono Kosuki; Pexels. Thank you!

6 Things Businesses Can Do to Welcome New Employees

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6 Things Businesses Can Do to Welcome New Employees

Finally! After weeks of searching for the right candidate to fill that open position, you’ve found the right person. In fact, they’re starting this week. No doubt you’re excited to welcome your new employee and have your team working at full capacity again.

Your new employee is probably just as thrilled as you are. It’s also highly likely that they’re nervous about their first few days. As the manager, you’re in charge of making your most recent hire feel at home and comfortable with their new colleagues. Keep reading for six tips to wheel out the welcome wagon.

1. Greet them personally on day one.

Think back to your first day at work. It may have felt slightly intimidating to walk through the front door to take on the unknown. That’s a normal response to unfamiliar situations and responsibilities. However, it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone, though.

Offer your new employee a helping hand. Additionally, coordinate your schedules so you can meet them when they arrive for work. Greet them with a smile and let them know you’re excited they’re joining your team. Take the time to walk them through the schedule for their first day. With a good idea of what the day will bring, your new employee will feel more at ease.

2. Lead an office tour.

The initial greeting and welcome are great. Consequently, invest a few more minutes and go a step further, though. Don’t simply point the newbie to their office with a wave and “good luck.” Help them get oriented with a tour of the office and building, if needed.

Show them their office and then point out the break room. For example, what’s the quickest way to get to the bathrooms? They’re new and may have questions, so walk them over to human resources. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to the people who work closest to them. Helping with those early introductions can pave the way for easier conversations later in the day.

Don’t forget to explain your digital tools as well. If you have remote employees, your new hire needs to know how to reach them. Give them a brief tutorial on your workplace communication tools. It could make their workday much easier.

3. Personalize their workspace.

Few things feel less inviting than an empty cubicle or office with bare walls and a buzzing overhead light. That image doesn’t say, “We’re glad you’re here!” However, you can easily switch that up, though. With a little effort, you can make your new hire’s office feel like a work home.

Channel your inner elementary-school self and create a cheery banner to hang up. Put an oversized coffee mug filled with bite-size candies on their desk. Tie a shiny balloon to their office chair. Have everyone sign a welcome card. In short, these small touches can make your new employee feel great about their first day.

Encourage your employee to add their own personal flair as well. They might bring in artwork or a plant or two. Both additions will lend color to their office space. They may also prompt conversations with their new co-workers.

4. Host a team meeting.

Sometimes, it takes more than a few quick introductions to make your new hire comfortable with their colleagues. If that’s the case, go ahead and host a team meeting. Let everyone know it will be a social event. It’s their time to catch up with each other and get to know the recent additions to the team.

If you can, try to get out of the workplace. Take your team to lunch at the cafe down the street. Maybe reserve a few lanes at the bowling alley for some after-work strikes and gutter balls. There are other options if you must stay in the office. Organize your meeting as a get-to-know-you event with icebreakers. Fill out personality or work style tests to see which colleagues have things in common.

5. Give them a welcome kit.

Have you ever gone to a conference and been greeted with a themed goodie bag? It’s a nice little perk that comes with the event. Similarly, starting a job should be just as exciting and fun. A welcome pack can do the trick for your new hire. It’s an easy way to make them feel like a part of the office family.

These kits can include several different kinds of treats. For example, does your company have branded clothing? Include a shirt or hoodie. Depending on where you’re located, drop in a list of the best local restaurants and coffee shops. Similarly, add coupons if they’re available, and provide a map, too. In short, a well-stocked welcome kit offers bunches of practical information your new hire will appreciate.

6. Pair them with a mentor.

It doesn’t matter whether your new employee is fresh out of college or a seasoned veteran. Being new to the office is still being new to the office. To help the individual learn the official — and unofficial — ropes, hook them up with a mentor. Someone who’s been with the company a while is a good choice.

Before the employee comes on board, look for an existing co-worker with whom they might have some things in common. Maybe they have shared work histories or have expressed similar interests. It will all help build a connection. Similarly, having a specific person to go to with questions can be a relief for a new hire. It’s a simple way to help them succeed.

Starting a job is an exciting time. It’s filled with possibilities, as well as anxiety and some fear. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to welcome your latest employee. Consequently, if you follow these tactics, the new co-worker will feel like part of your team in no time.

Featured Image Credit: Rodnae Productions; Pexels.com. Thank you!

How Can I Better Manage My Time Management Needs

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You can always do better to improve your time management abilities and habits. Manage your time management needs to make your life better.

Signs that you need to improve your time management abilities and habits include the following:

  • your long-term ambitions appear elusive;
  • you are not getting much done; and
  • you miss or move your deadlines.

There is no project manager assigned to your life to manage your time and responsibilities properly. You can take charge of your own time management needs.

Everyone struggles with time management. It is a skill most of us could use some help to improve. However, signs that you need to improve your time management abilities and habits include:

  • your long-term ambitions appear elusive;
  • you often miss or move deadlines;
  • you can’t concentrate and struggle to accomplish chores or projects;
  • your work list is overwhelming;
  • you decide you just cannot do it all;
  • you labor longer than you should on particular tasks;
  • you’re always stressed; and
  • you’re trying hard…but getting nowhere.

If any of the following apply to you, it’s time to grow up a bit and work on your time management.

Finding Out How Time Management Works

1. Set objectives.

We often ignore goals while managing our time.

It’s easy to lose sight of long-term objectives amid everyday duties. As a result, you may struggle to concentrate on the most pressing issues or prioritize your extensive list of responsibilities.

Overwhelmed? Re-evaluate your task list. Will spending time on this specific task help you achieve your goals?

Work from your SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-Based. Unrealistic or vague objectives are challenging to monitor and generally unfinished.

2. Plan your time.

Stop letting others schedule your time.

The most effective strategy to acquire time management skills is to be purposeful with your time. You are making time management a habit that may help you achieve long-term objectives while reducing distractions and increasing attention. When planning your time working from home, keep in mind different timetables.

For example, notify your roommates when you don’t want to be disturbed, go to a public place, or make a lot of noise. Establishing expectations ahead of time decreases the possibilities for conflict.

3. Plan time chunks.

Blocking your time is an excellent method to prioritize non-urgent, long-term projects that demand attention and significant labor.

  • It’s generally put on hold when more pressing duties demand your attention.
  • Setting aside time to focus on specific tasks ensures progress.
  • Limiting work time also reduces task fatigue.

A shared calendar at work might help discourage employees from arranging meetings within your time blocks.

4. Find your time management peak hours.

Power hours are when you have the most incredible energy and do the most.

You may already be aware of your power hours. If you’re unsure, monitor your time to find out. Therefore, during your power hours, schedule your most vital and time-consuming chores.

However, schedule monotonous jobs that don’t demand much concentration throughout the day.

5. Use sprints for focus.

It’s not always simple to start a job or work deep. Therefore, the Pomodoro approach works well for task beginning and attention issues.

Schedule brief (15–30 minute) periods of intense concentration on a single activity. Then take a five-minute pause between sprints. Prepare a distraction-free environment before a concentration sprint. Get rid of everything except what you need to complete your task.

For example, enable Do Not Disturb on your devices. Avoid putting up with talkative roommates. Your sprints may be as long or as short as you choose. However, five- and ten-minute sprints with one-minute pauses may be more suitable for you.

6. Set time management priorities.

Our to-do lists may suddenly balloon. Idea generation and idealization are human strengths. Ideas are limitless, but time is limited. Pretending you can manufacture time increases your stress levels. For example, the Eisenhower Matrix is a powerful prioritizing tool.

Even if you don’t use the diagram to prioritize activities, the vocabulary and structure may help you evaluate their worth. For example, tasks that need quick attention.

  • Important: Tasks that help you achieve your objectives. However, they aren’t always urgent, yet failure to do so has significant implications.

The Eisenhower Time Management Matrix divides work into four quadrants. Using this approach will help you prioritize your tasks.

Prioritize these tasks. Next, do these things.

  • Important But Not Urgent: Postpone or assign. Don’t do it! Remove it from your list.

You don’t have to do everything. However, delete tasks that don’t fulfill your aims to save time, especially if you created them. It takes some trial and error to find the right one for you. Nevertheless, it is possible to build good time management skills.

7. Schedule your week and days.

Every day and week, set your aims and priorities. However, planning your calendar offers you a better sense of the future and allows you to prepare for it.

Therefore, checking in on your time management priorities keeps you on track with your objectives and helps you to adjust to new ones.

8. Saying no.

Time is limited. Even in business, boundaries are necessary. You may feel pressured to say yes to every request, but you aren’t.

It’s essential to be aggressive, know your limitations, and avoid over-committing. Breach of obligations erodes confidence in relationships.

9. Feed your brain.

We frequently take our intellect for granted. Focus isn’t only a result of willpower. Our brains must be in tip-top shape.

You are taking pauses, sleeping enough, eating well, exercising regularly, and socializing to help executive function. If you’ve ever felt “hangry” or grumpy after a stormy night’s sleep, you’re not 100%.

However, when you’re irritable, you’re more likely to create problems at work and at home. Therefore, trying to work when you’re not at your best leads to poor work and mental misery.

10. Stop looking for motivation or inspiration.

You won’t get much done if you wait for inspiration to hit. Set a small objective to get started.

Focus sprints might help you finish challenging activities. Starting time management may inspire you even for five minutes. However, don’t ignore social media.

11. No such thing as time management multitasking.

Multitasking is a losing proposition. Constant interruptions degrade attention, reducing work completion.

Instead of jumping from activity to task, make a list of recurring charges and schedule them. However, it’s tough to resist multitasking when you’re not the only one working from home, but setting limits will pay you in the long term. However, always look for new time savers.

12. Plan your message check-ins.

You may believe checking every email, social media direct message, and phone contact are polite. Like multitasking, these random interruptions limit your capacity to accomplish serious work. Instead, schedule time to catch up on mail.

How Can I Better Manage My Time Management Needs was oringinally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine. Featured Image Credit: CottonBro; Pexels. Thank you!

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