How to Create A Time Budget (And Stick to It)

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When most people hear the word “budget” they think of their finances. It makes sense because money is a resource that needs to be managed. However, your time is a resource too. In fact, I would argue your time is even more valuable because you can’t get it back. That’s why it’s important that you also create a time budget for your life.

What is the purpose of a time budget?

I like to think of a time budget as a guideline that helps you spend your time the way you want to spend it. Granted, sometimes there are things we don’t want to do – like go to the dentist or pay taxes. But, for everything else, it’s important that we find time for the things that matter to us. For most people that looks like relationships, health and their careers. The only way to do this is to manage our time wisely and with intention.

How do you create a time budget?

The first step is already done – which is to determine what matters to you in life. The next step is to figure out what each of these important things looks like. Remember, your time is a limited resource so it must be used wisely. Let’s start with career since that takes up a lot of our time each week. What does being intentional in your career look like? What tasks will actually move you forward with your goal? What tasks are a waste of time or cause you to move backward? When do you stop working each day. The last one is especially important because you have other areas of your life that matter to you as well. Chances are you didn’t go into business for yourself to work all the time, especially because many people crave work life balance. Once you determine when you work, you also need to determine when you do other things. For example, I go to a fitness class on Mondays and Thursdays. I also dedicate weekends to friends and family.

How do you stick to a time budget?

In order to stick to your time budget, you need to have certain things in place. Just like you use apps and boundaries for finances, you also need them for your time. Here are some things that will help you stick to your time budget:
  • A calendar application. Let’s be real, if something isn’t on your calendar it doesn’t actually exist. Furthermore, a calendar application can help you time block tasks and activities. It can also let others know when you’re not available.
  • Very strong boundaries. People will take advantage of your time if you let them. That’s why it’s up to you to have very strong boundaries. Don’t hand over control of meetings and learn how to say no. Otherwise, you give away too much of your most valuable resource.
time budget is just as important as a budget for your finances. Both resources need to be managed to the best of your ability for a balanced life. It’s up to you to determine how you want to spend your time and protect it.
Originally published here.

4 Ways You Can Improve Teamwork

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Regardless of how talented your individual team members are, you won’t get very far if they don’t work cohesively. As the business owner or manager, it’s your job to implement strategies that will improve teamwork. When your team works together, trust begins to build and responsibilities become clear. A healthy team knows how to be honest with one another even if it means putting forth harsh criticisms.

That all said, here are seven ways you can improve teamwork in your company.

Establish a clear team mission.

This applies to your overall company mission, and the mission of each project you kick off with your team. It may take five, ten, even twenty years to build a successful company. During that time, you may kick off projects that drag on for months if not a year. Regardless of what stage you’re in, you need to establish a clear team mission. If you can paint the big picture and align everyone with the same goals, your team will be motivated and productive.

Create a reporting infrastructure.

In every organization there will be problems. The last thing you want is to have an employee sit on an issue and not have anyone they can report to. On the flip side, you also don’t want that employee to gripe about their problems every time they arise. The best way to handle this is by creating a reporting infrastructure. First and foremost, you need every team member to understand their roles and to whom they report issues to. If there is a disagreement, there needs to be a process in which that issue gets discussed. Last but not least, you need to decide which members of the team make the final call. Establishing these ground rules is key to improving overall teamwork.

Make the right hires.

While this one sounds obvious, it’s surprising how many managers fill roles with unqualified employees. The problem is, most hiring managers overlook the importance of personality fit. A fancy resume and a proven track record may look good on paper, but if they don’t get along with the rest of the team what’s the point? As you go through your interviews you need to focus on both skill and personality qualifications. If they seem promising, you should always throw them in the mix and let them work amongst the team for a few days. If things don’t work out, try shifting things around or look for another candidate.

Build relationships outside of the workplace.

In order to build honest and lasting relationships you need to encourage team bonding outside of the workplace. Work can get stressful, and that stress can really weigh down on people. Instead of trying to fix things at the office, take your team out to lunch or organize a team field trip. Not only will this give your team a breath of fresh air, it’ll give them the chance to get to know each other on a personal level. One great option is to have your team join a sports league together. First and foremost, health and fitness is as popular as it’s ever been. Second, team sports is one of the best ways to build team chemistry. For tech companies, there are plenty of sports leagues you can join where you compete against other companies. This way you can network, exercise, and foster teamwork all at the same time! At the end of the day, building teamwork takes time – so it’s in your best interest to start now. For starters, use the four strategies above so you can improve teamwork.
Originally published here.

Productive Things to do During Downtime

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Even the busiest workers have a noticeable amount of downtime. Yet, there are ways to still accomplish productive things in that downtime. Whether it’s been scheduled or it’s your body’s way of saying “slow down, take a break” downtime during your workday can often be used as an opportunity to tie up loose ends and be productive with low-effort tasks. Here are 5 productive things you can do that make you feel good whenever you find that there’s downtime in your schedule.

Exercise

Exercise has a ton of benefits which is probably why successful people make time to stay active. While I used to find it easy for me to get lost on YouTube to start binging Netflix during my downtime, I started breaking up my day to exercise during the early afternoon slump instead. Exercise will help you stay healthy and keep your mind sharp and motivated to crank out some more great projects during the remainder of the workday. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment either. Even if you only have a few minutes, you can go for a walk around the corner or do a few exercises before starting back up again.

Read

It’s no secret that successful people read. The average millionaire is said to reads two or more books per month. Take the time to read blogs, news sites, fiction, and non-fiction during downtime so you can soak in more knowledge. If you’re often on the go, you may want to try audiobooks or listen to podcasts for fun or to learn about things like personal development, personal finance, or entrepreneurship.

Network

Networking can be valuable when done correctly. It shouldn’t always be your main focus but it’s important to squeeze in time to attend networking events and reach out to other either online or in person. Downtime is the perfect time to do some networking, maintain current relationships or follow up with people you’ve reached out to previously.

Open and Respond to Emails

Checking emails throughout the day can be tempting, but it’s an easy way to waste time and energy. I check and respond to my most important emails when in the morning and toward the end of the workday. I save the rest for small moments of downtime when I just need to do something easy and catch up. Managing emails can definitely become overwhelming if you don’t take time to stay caught up throughout the day. However, this doesn’t mean you have to waste time by checking in every 10 minutes. Focus on what’s important throughout the day, then save the rest for downtime.

Reorganize Your Calendar

Unexpected downtime like a meeting cancellation can be a great time to look at your calendar to make sure you’re on track and even plan for the next day. Planning your days in advance is one of the best ways to stay organized, motivated, and get a lot done. Successful people don’t waste time wondering what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it. They already have a plan scheduled out and ready to execute. If you are experiencing way too much downtime throughout the day, you may want to reorganize your calendar and make sure you’re working efficiently and making the best use of your time.

 

What productive tasks do you do during downtime?


Originally published here.

5 Rules for Using Shared Work Space

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Not everyone can afford to have their own business office space in a separate building. But they may not have room in their homes or apartments for an office either. A solution to that problem is to use a shared work space with others. Many businesses have filled that need by offering shared work spaces. For a fee most include desks, chairs, good lighting, and internet connections. Some will even allow you to use their business address, phone number, and conference rooms in rental agreements. But working co-operatively with other people you don’t know isn’t always easy. Everyone has different personalities and quirks that can make a shared work environment uncomfortable. Nevertheless, you can prevent problems from arising if you follow some rules for using shared work space.

1. Work Quietly

One of the rules for using shared work space is to work quietly. It’s difficult to accomplish what you need to, especially on a deadline, if you can’t concentrate. Don’t talk excessively to others who are also trying to focus on their own work. A simple “hello” or nod of the head when they look your way is an acceptable greeting that’s less disruptive.

2. Clean Up After Yourself

Imagine this scenario. You walk into a shared work space with your computer, coffee cup, and a stack of papers. After setting everything on a table you set up your computer and prepare to start working. Picking up your paperwork you see that some mystery liquid has soaked several pages on the bottom of the stack. Yuk! When working in a shared space you need to be mindful of the sensitivities of the other people around you. Follow the golden rule of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. To put it another way, leave the area you work in as neat as it was when you got there. If you have any wrappers, paper cups, or other trash you should throw it away. Wipe up any messes or crumbs.

3. Stay within Your Own Space

Everyone’s approach to work is different. Some people like to spread out more and others just stack everything in one pile. The bottom line is that if you rent work space, don’t take up more than what you’ve paid for. Other people don’t like it when your stuff invades their working space. Keep your stuff on your side of the table.

4. Bring Your Own Supplies

Another rule for using shared work space is to bring your own supplies. It pays to think ahead. So each morning before work, think about what you will be doing throughout the day. Pack a small stapler, paperclips, pens, paper, or other supplies you may need to take with you. If you must borrow from others in your shared work space, thank them. Be courteous and return items in good condition as soon as possible.

5. Practice Good Hygiene

No one wants to work around others who smell bad. Make sure you are showered and fresh before you go to work in a shared work space. On the other hand, be mindful of the cologne you use. Try to keep it to a minimum because other people may be sensitive to strong scents. It isn’t easy to work elbow to elbow with other people when you’d rather have your own work space. However, it can be done without quarrel if you follow some easy rules for using shared work space.
Originally published here.

5 Ways You Can Communicate Effectively in a Business Meeting

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If you’re like most business professionals, the majority of your day is spent in meetings. Sometimes you can get a lot accomplished during this time. However, they are often ineffective. If you want to get more accomplished in your business meetings you need to communicate effectively. You need to communicate the purpose of the meeting and the actionable takeaways when it wraps up.

Here are five ways you can communicate effectively in business meetings.

Take the time to prepare.

Before delivering a speech, you always take the time to prepare what you’re going to say. The same thing applies to your business meetings. Before you even schedule the meeting, prepare what you’re going to say. The reason you should do this before the meeting is scheduled is because it forces you to find a clear value or purpose for the meeting. If you have trouble preparing useful content for the meeting, it’s maybe best to hold off or cancel it all together. Once you’ve prepared, gather your thoughts into key bullet points you can reference throughout the meeting.

Don’t talk over others.

If two people are talking at the same time, odds are neither one is being heard. As excitement (or tension) rises in the room, people tend to talk over each other. This is extremely unproductive. If you get interrupted, refrain from trying to battle the other person for the ears in the room. Let them finish their points, and make sure to address them afterwards. If they try to interrupt you again, respectfully tell them to let you finish before they respond.

Pay attention to body language.

Body language is a huge part of effective conversation. When you’re speaking, make sure you are making eye contact with others and that you are sitting in an upright position. When looking at someone in the eyes, it builds trust and makes you seem more sincere. Additionally, you should gauge the body language of your listeners as well. If they are looking off into the distance or slouched in their seats, odds are they aren’t picking up what you’re saying.

Always try to mix things up.

Business meetings, especially long ones, can get very dull very quickly. Sometimes, that’s just the nature of the content being discussed. When you sense things start to go dry, try to mix things up a bit. If you need to, you can take a break completely from what’s being discussed. Open up the floor to discussion and get everyone reengaged. If you’re diligent about keeping track of where you left off, these breaks won’t serve as a distraction.

Always summarize and repeat key points.

This is something you need to learn for any kind of communication. People often underestimate how well their points are received by who they’re talking to. To be honest, people are generally bad listeners. While you can’t make them “listen better” you can take it upon yourself to hammer home your key points. After you’ve delivered your message, you should always summarize and reiterate your key points. It will help both you, and the audience retain what’s been said. Before you head into your next business meeting, make sure you remember the five points listed above. It will help keep your business meetings organized and productive.
Originally published here.  

6 Tips for Successful Calendar Sharing

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Busy companies that employ large groups of people have their challenges. That’s probably why many of them are moving toward shared calendars among their staff. Sharing calendars affords plenty of advantages that make it desirable. For instance, you can more easily oversee staff, prepare for meetings, and manage your day. However, to be effective in a business setting there are 6 tips for successful calendar sharing you should use.

1. Block Time for Your Own Work

One of the first tips for successful calendar sharing is to block time for your own work. Of course, depending on the business this may not be needed. Then again, in a very hectic, meeting packed business environment it may be necessary. In fact, it could be the only way to ensure your own important projects get completed.

2. Stay Up To Date

Remaining current with your own scheduled events is important to successful calendar sharing. If you do not create an event in a shared calendar you run the risk of double scheduling something. For example, the best time to schedule another group meeting is at the end of the meeting you’re at. But if you don’t have your calendar up to date it will frustrate and disrespect others who do. Also, whenever possible, preschedule meetings and appointments that are recurring. This is an additional way to prevent scheduling something else over the top of routine meetings.

3. Eliminate General Entries

Successful calendar sharing is easier when you think about what other people in your workgroup will see. Using general entries such as “Appointment” should be avoided. From that entry it’s unclear whether it’s a personal appointment or a business appointment someone else made with you.

4. Let Others Know Your Scheduling Preferences

If you generally follow the same daily routine the odds are high that close colleagues have noticed. Be that as it may, it’s possible that they don’t know your scheduling preferences. Obviously some shared calendar apps allow certain preferences, such as time slots, to be preset. Nevertheless, if yours does not you might need to let others in your workgroup know your scheduling preferences.

5. Keep Private What Should Be Private

Certainly privacy could be an issue for successful calendar sharing. But many people merge work and personal calendars without issue. It’s commonplace for calendars to have settings that let you make some entries private and others shared. This can prevent co-workers from seeing personal information they do not need to know. However, not all calendars have the same capabilities. Therefore, you can permit everyone to see personal appointments, make entries vague, or not put them on work calendars.

6. Create Gaps Between Events

Most people dislike back to back meetings, but at times they are necessary. Whenever possible, though, try to create at least a small gap between events. As an example, if your workgroup is conducting hiring interviews, try to allow 15 minutes between them. This way if you run over on time you will still stay on track. It also allows others in your interview team to grab a quick drink, use the restroom, or make a call. Of course, effective and efficient business management is important to your career success. For the best shot at successful calendar sharing, try using these tips.
Originally published here.

3 Common Time Wasters for Your Business

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I often coach business owners through the best ways to use their time. It’s too often that they come to me having an idea of what they should be doing, only to find out most of their tasks are time wasters. I understand why people are confused. They think that certain things like spending your time on social media lead to money in the bank. They also think their email will catch fire if they aren’t logged into it all the time. I get it because I get caught up in it too sometimes. However, there comes a time when we need to get rid of the time wasters in our businesses. This starts by determining one main thing: What actually leads to money in the bank? Everything else comes second. That being said, here are the most common time wasters in your business.

Social Media

This may sound strange coming from someone who uses social media marketing, but it’s a time suck. More specifically, social media channels are time wasters when you don’t know how they fit into a marketing plan. For example, spending your time on Facebook looking at memes is a waste of time. Posting on Instagram with no call to action is a waste of time. Posting random stuff that doesn’t drive traffic or build your email list? Also, a waste of time. On the other hand, if you know how to use social media as a part of your marketing funnel, then it’s worth spending some time on it. You may even want to consider outsourcing this important task to a marketing professional. Just because it can lead to money doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time.

Meetings

Most meetings are time wasters. There, I said it. Let’s be honest, how many times have you sat in a meeting that could have been an email? Or how many times did a meeting run longer than it had to? How many times did a prospect waste your time with meetings that went nowhere? Probably several times. This is why I say to avoid meetings if you can. At the very least, avoid having meetings in-person since you have far less control over your time.

Email

Similar to meetings, emails are time wasters too. This is especially true if you have a busy inbox. Unfortunately, most people treat their inbox like a to-do list. When something pops up, they handle it. The problem is this takes time away from important tasks that can move your business forward. For example, you need to create a new service offering but your time is being spent on email correspondence. One way to fix this is to hire a virtual assistant who can handle email communication for you. They may not be able to handle everything, but they can at least sort through the unimportant stuff so you don’t have to.

Final Thoughts

The ironic thing about these common time wasters is people think they need them to make money. This is only half true. There’s a difference between efficiently using these things and wasting your time. Once you figure out the fine line, then it becomes easier to stick to the important stuff.


Originally published here.

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