All posts by John Hall

7 Time-Saving Tips for Business Travel

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From overcrowded airports to lost luggage and long lines, travel isn’t always easy. However, with a bit of planning and adjusting your travel tactics, you’ll discover plenty of things you can do to save time and avoid any travel-related stresses.

By becoming a loyal airline customer and joining a frequent flier program, you’ll receive priority treatment and perks like early boarding or TSA pre-check. By making it a habit to travel only with a carry-on, you avoid wasting time at bag drop or baggage claim. Not only that, but you won’t be at risk of the airline losing your luggage either.

When it comes to business, it’s important to be cautious of your time and reduce your risks from any travel hiccups. To learn more, check out these seven time-saving tips when traveling for business.

1. Avoid peak travel times

If your schedule allows for it, when booking travel, try to avoid peak travel times like before the weekend or during rush hour. According to research, airports are typically busiest early in the morning or early evening, and slowest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Therefore, if you can manage to take an afternoon flight or a redeye, or get out of town mid-week, you don’t have to worry about any airport chaos.

2. Join a frequent flier program

Committing to one airline is a great way to relieve travel-related stress and elevate your overall experience. If you’re a member of a good frequent flier program, you’ll receive special perks and benefits. For example, if you’re stuck at the airport due to a delay, you’ll be able to enjoy the airline’s VIP lounges. Or, when checking in, going through security and boarding the plane, you’ll typically get priority over passengers who are not part of that airline’s frequent flier program.

3. Plan ahead

Don’t just assume you’ll be able to quickly hail a cab or hop in the car two hours before your flight. In order to avoid traffic or any unexpected delays, do your research ahead of time. By checking and comparing various types of transportation methods, you’ll be able to figure out which is the fastest, most convenient and cost-effective mode for you. Not only that, but you’ll alleviate any stress that might come with last-minute panning.

4. Only travel with a carry-on

For smooth-sailing on and off the plane, never check a bag and pack smartly in a single carry-on bag. By using a carry-on, you’ll avoid the hassle of dropping your bag and picking it up at baggage claim. Additionally, it will also force you to pack smartly and efficiently.

5. Sign up for Global Entry

If you typically fly internationally, signing up for Global Entry is a no-brainer. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program gives qualifying travelers an expedited customs process. According to the Dept. of Homeland Security’s website, the program allows “expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival into the U.S.” All it takes is a background check and interview in order to join.

6. Download your ticket to your phone

Gone are the days of printing paper plane tickets. Today, nearly every airline allows passengers to download e-tickets directly onto their smartphones. By downloading your e-ticket, you skip the hassle of printing your boarding pass and you don’t have to worry about misplacing it either.

7. Ask yourself if travel is really necessary

Before you go through the hassle of coordinating a business trip and spending days outside of the office, make sure that a trip is essential. Thanks to today’s technology, it’s incredibly convenient to conduct business across the globe using apps like Skype and Hangouts. In fact, apps like these reduce the need for in-person meetings because they allow us to have virtual video calls. So, before you start planning your trip, assess if a face-to-face meeting is really necessary.

7 Time-Saving Tips for Business Travel was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

How Time Management Plays A Major Role In Your Success

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When I became my own boss I was thrilled that I could set my own hours and work on whatever I felt like working on. In the beginning, this may have worked. I was wasting time and falling for time management myths like multi-tasking and focusing on being “busy.” After my epiphany, I realized that the only way I was going to succeed was if I started to manage my time more effectively. The conclusion is that time management plays a major role in your success — any person’s success. And time management certainly was going to play a major role in my success.

Time is a Limited Resource

“Time is your most precious resource,” writes Brian Tracy. “It is the most valuable thing you have. It is perishable, it is irreplaceable, and it cannot be saved.” It’s true. We all have the same amount of time. When the time is gone — it’s gone — and it’s gone forever.

Realizing the fact that time management means everything, can put things in a new perspective. For example, you could spend all day watching Netflix. But, that time could have been better spent on exercising, reading, learning a new skill, catching up with an old friend, or networking.

In other words, when you really understand that time is a finite resource, you begin to cherish every second of it.

Reduces Stress

Stress kills.

Chronic stress can lead to heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, and cirrhosis of the liver — well, the list goes on. I don’t want to dwell on that. Stress can also affect your brain, suppress your thyroid, cause blood sugar imbalances, reduce your immunity and ability to heal, and even cause some to commit suicide. But there are some great stress reducers you can use in your company.

Here’s the thing, stress management and time management go hand in hand. When you manage your time more wisely, you feel more in control. You’re able to meet deadlines and prevent last-minute surprises. You also become more efficient and prepared to handle anything that life throws your way. Eventually, you become more relaxed and less stressed.

You Accomplish More With Less Effort

When taking control of your time you can improve your ability to focus and eliminate distractions, which in turn will make you more productive.

This because when you’re aware of what needs to get done, you don’t lose momentum. You focus on the task at a time and block out distractions, like email and social media notifications. As a result, you’ll breeze through your tasks more quickly.

Less Re-work

Time management rules encourage you to work more efficiently by being organized, staying focused, and single-tasking, you won’t make as many mistakes. This doesn’t mean that your work will be perfect, but you’ll notice that you’re no longer having to redo a task because you forgot to add it to your list. You will not be forgetting an important item nor making severe errors anymore.

“Don’t make the same decision twice. Spend time and thought to make a solid decision the first time so that you don’t revisit the issue unnecessarily. If you’re too willing to reopen issues, it interferes not only with your execution but also with your motivation to make a decision in the first place. After all, why bother deciding an issue if it isn’t really going to be decided?” — Bill Gates

Small Steps Lead to Big Goals

Richard Branson once said, “If you don’t have time for the small things, you won’t have time for the big things.” I love that quote. In order to become successful, you need to set goals. Obviously, you’re not going to achieve them overnight. It takes time. It also involved baby steps.

Think of it like when you see a set of stairs. You know that you want to reach the top, but in order to get there, you need to take one step at a time. Time management helps you focus on each of those steps so that you can reach the top.

Identifies Your Top Priorities

Perhaps the greatest influence that time management is that it allows you to prioritize. This is because it forces you to focus on what is most urgent and important right now. As Sheryl Sandberg has said, “You can only do so much. There are five more projects you want to do, but you pick the three that are really going to matter, and you try to do those really well, and you don’t even try to do the others.” Other founders have determined to deploy a “no meeting day” companywide in their companies.

Improves Decision Making

When it’s crunch time and you have an important decision to make, this pressure may lead to making the wrong decision because you don’t have all the information or time to mull it over. When you’re not pressured for time, you can sit back, reflect, and analyze the information you have to make the best decision possible.

Eliminates Wasted Time

When you know what you have to do next, you won’t waste valuable time wondering what you’re going to do next. You can jump right into the next task so that you’re one step ahead.

Boosts Your Reputation

How successfully do you think you’ll be if you’re constantly showing up late to a meeting or missing deadlines? No one wants to work with someone who is so flaky and unreliable.

Time management ensures that you’re always going to show up, meet a deadline, and follow-through on what you promised to do.

Gives You More Free Time

While managing your time better won’t actually give you more hours in a day, it does help you make the most of these hours so that you can have more leisure time. For example, instead of spending a lot of time composing emails in your office — formulate your response during your morning and afternoon commute so that you can get home earlier.

Successful people realize that they can’t be on the clock 24/7. They need time away to destress, recharge and refocus. The only way to achieve this is by effectively managing your time so that you can stop and smell the proverbial roses.

Rules for Successful Time Management

While there’s no denying that time management plays a major rule in your success, how can you become a master of time management? Start by following these rules:

    • Start your day on the right foot. Have a morning routine where you have time to gather your thoughts and prepare for the day.
    • Have a plan on what you want to accomplish. Set reasonable and practical goals that you can achieve that day.
    • Break large tasks down. Large and complex tasks can be overwhelming — which leads to procrastination. Break these down into smaller chunks that are more achievable.
    • Prioritize and eliminate the non-essential. Focus only on your three most urgent and important tasks for the day and forget everything else. You can add these to your to-do-list.
    • Delegate. If there are tasks you aren’t strong at or dread doing, hand them off to someone else to complete so that you can focus on more pressing matters.
    • Use timers. A timer can keep you on track when you get distracted or make sure that you don’t spend too much time on a specific task.
    • Stay organized. Make sure everything has a home and is returned when not in use. This way you aren’t wasting time looking for an item when you need it.
    • Review your calendar. At the end of each day review your calendar. This way you can plan accordingly for tomorrow.
    • Spend your downtime wisely. Read, write, learn something new, socialize with friends, volunteer, and build your network. Do any of these instead of working 24/7 or spending your free time on activities that don’t contribute to your success.

How Time Management Plays A Major Role In Your Success was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

8 Out-There Apps to Boost Your Productivity Levels

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Apps to Boost Productivity

From email follow-ups to meeting prep and note-taking, thanks to technology some of today’s most menial tasks don’t have to take up your precious time anymore. In fact, there is pretty much an app for everything nowadays. But what apps boost your productivity levels?

The app FollowUp compiles all of your most urgent emails and unanswered communications so you don’t forget anything. Charlie puts together information on a person you’re meeting with. And Squid converts your hand-written notes into digital files. It is safe to say there is an app to help with anything you do today.

If you are not sure where to start, take a look at these eight out-there apps to help boost your productivity levels.

1. FollowUp

When you’re busy, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. However, FollowUp wants to make sure you don’t forget anything. FollowUp congregates all of your most important emails, text messages and unanswered phone calls in one place, so you’re reminded to get back to them.

2. Charlie

Whether you’re meeting a new client or going into an interview, it’s important to know some background about who you’re meeting with. Instead of taking the time to research people on the web, Charlie can do this for you. The app goes through hundreds of sources to create a one-page document with information about the person you’re going to meet with.

3. Things

To-do lists can get messy and congested, and the app Things seeks to fix that by helping users make the most of their day.

For Mac and iOS, Things organizes your to-dos in different lists including today, this evening, upcoming, checklists and other customizable headings. It helps create an outline for not only your day, but months in advance.

4. Squid

Built for Android and Windows, Squid helps you save time by converting your handwritten notes and other documents into images or PDFs. You can annotate and write on the new images, and you can also scan and sign any documents without needing to use a printer or scanner.

5. Atlas Recall

Few of us are born with a photographic memory, although with the help of today’s technology, we can feel like we have this power. Atlas Recall creates a searchable index of all of your content, including browser history, email accounts, social media, chat messages and more. Calling itself a “searchable photographic memory,”

Atlas Recall helps users find anything they’ve come across on any device, apps and cloud services.

6. Strides

Strides isn’t just another daily to-do app. It helps you track your goals and habits, letting you know how close you are to achieving the goals you’ve set. It groups habits and goals in four categories: target, habit, average and project. It will not only help you reach your long-term goals, but also help you kick any bad habits.

7. Feedly

With the abundance of news outlets out there today, there’s a ton of overlap when it comes to breaking news and other content. Feedly helps users quickly filter through articles published by their favorite news outlets — allowing them to organize, read, save and share stories that they care about.

8. Realtime Board

Communication is key when you’re working with a team. Realtime Board is an online whiteboard designed for collaborative work environments that helps keep every team member on the same page. Users can work on research together, sharing images and creating mood boards, conduct visual brainstorming sessions, work on user experience and design together and more. Realtime Board puts everything in one place and lets every team member chip in and see what’s going on.

Now, you can get started with any one of these apps to boost your productivity levels.

8 Out-There Apps to Boost Your Productivity Levels was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

15 Ways to Unplug Completely on Vacation

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Unplug Completely on Vacation

The upcoming vacation that you have set on your Calendar may be the most exciting thing you have planned for the near future. If you’re dreaming of a blissfully relaxing retreat from your everyday life, then you need to find a way to unplug completely. The constant connection to your electronics invites unwelcome work complications while you are supposed to be enjoying your vacation. If you genuinely have trouble disconnecting from your regular responsibilities, here are 15 ways to unplug entirely on vacation.

Ways to unplug completely on vacation.

Although it can be challenging to unplug on vacation completely, it is not impossible. You can make the disconnect a reality by working to unplug yourself completely. You may also need to know how to work and schedule from different time zones. Here are our best tips to create an unplugged vacation.

1. Plan.

Unplugging on vacation starts before you leave the office. In the days and weeks leading up to your vacation, you need to anticipate what potential problems or events could distract you from your vacation. Try to get ahead on any big projects. If there are pressing deadlines while you will be away, then make sure complete those tasks before you take off. It helps to plan many weeks or months in advance and get your team cooperation to complete your assignments for you while you’re gone. Then, you will return the favor while they are out of town or on vacation.

2. Put vacation on your Calendar.

Make sure to add your vacation days to your schedule. It is essential that your coworkers are aware that you are on vacation. Hopefully, they will be respectful of the fact that you are on vacation. Most people will not bother you if they know you are out on vacation, especially if they have had several weeks warning.

When you add the vacation days to your Calendar, you may be to prevent any critical meetings from being scheduled while you are away. Although it’s possible that you will miss some meetings, everyone will know that you won’t be there ahead of time. The information you provide will keep any expectations about your attendance in check.

3. Consider your work schedule.

Many of us would prefer to plan our vacations without a second thought about working. However, considering your work responsibilities can help to reduce the need to check into work while on vacation. Put in some extra time so that you know exactly what is going on with your work, your team, and all projects coming up. If you have given a lot of notice, people are usually willing to help. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Choose to go on vacation at a slow time for work. If you know that work will be busier during a specific period, then try to plan your vacation for after the main company rush. Also take a look at personal schedules, such as extended family responsibilities.

4. Take shorter vacations.

If you cannot leave work for an interruption-free vacation for two whole weeks, then consider taking shorter trips. If you can get away for an interruption-free week, then it may be worth the shorter trip. We have a few people at work that take every Friday off for five weeks each year, and then take one week of time off. Using this schedule of time-off works well for them and from a team member perspective — they are heroes.

5. Let people know.

In addition to adding the vacation time to your Calendar, you should also reach out to some coworkers directly. Of course, you will have to tell your boss. Also, tell coworkers that you work with regularly to expect no interaction for the time your plan to be away. Make a list early of precisely who you need to let know about your vacation. Sometimes you will be surprised who makes it onto the list.

6. Turn off notifications.

It can be tempting to check your inbox every time you hear the ding from your phone. The simplest way to avoid the temptation to check notices is by turning off all notifications related to work. You can even put all work-related apps into an “off limits” folder on your phone. Putting the apps in a place that requires extra effort to find may help to stop your habit from checking your inbox every couple of minutes automatically.

7. Resist the urge to purchase wifi.

Throughout your travels, you will encounter areas that have minimal wifi. When in this situation, you have the option to seek out a coffee shop with reasonably fast wifi or pay for wifi through your hotel or phone service provider. Wandering around to find wifi on vacation wastes time that could be spent enjoying your destination. Paying for wifi abroad can be extremely expensive and may not worth the cost. I’ve found the price worth skipping the aggravation.

Avoid options and choose to be disconnected. If you cannot be reached, then you are more likely to enjoy your new surroundings. Be sure to set all of your devices to “out of town,” and the dates that you will not be available. Most importantly also have the exact date and time when you will be back on your outgoing auto message

8. “Accidentally” forget your charger.

This “accident strategy” is semi-sleazy, but, if you have coworkers that won’t, or cannot leave you alone, then consider “accidentally” forgetting your charger. I call it, “the option of last resort.” Man-up — Woman-up — say, “no.”  Nowadays coworkers will usually not bother you about things that could wait until you return. Sometimes people will not take the hint; just understand that if a coworker will not take the hint — that is your problem — not theirs.

If you have a phone designated just for work, then another option is to leave your work phone at home.

9. Use an app to limit your phone usage.

There are many apps available that you can limit your phone usage through. The basic idea of each app is that you set a time limit for the amount of time you can be on your phone. Once you hit that limit, you will be reminded that you have hit the limit through a notification or it will lock your phone.

10. Make it fun.

If you are traveling with a group that has a similar phone addiction, then consider stacking your phones. The game is to place your phones in the middle of the table at dinner. Whoever picks up their phone first loses. The competition will encourage you to avoid looking at your phone for extended periods. Also, having a traveling companion answer your phone, saying, “Hello, Howie’s secretary,” will generally get a hang-up that you are happy about. Your “secretary” or “assistant” can also say that you are busy and on vacation.

11. Limit your check-ins.

Some of us can get stressed out by not checking out work emails. It’s tough to break the connection to the office, but don’t let it ruin your vacation. Instead, set up specific times that you can check-in each day. Schedule your check-in’s for after work hours so that you do not get caught up in an email chain all day — or night.

12. Be realistic about your disconnect.

Although unplugging entirely from your office is a great goal, that is not possible for everyone. Understand the expectations set by your company before you go on vacation. If you are required to be at least somewhat accessible, especially if you are the head on a project, then honor that requirement. You should not lose your job over the need to disconnect — but understand and be fully aware of all possibilities. If losing your job is part of the equation, plan accordingly, and make provisions.

13. Set up an automatic reply.

Create an automated response for emails that make it to your inbox. The immediate information that you will be out of the office is great for colleagues to know. Most will be respectful of your vacation time and leave the questions until you get back. You can also make your calendar available to everyone so that they can begin scheduling their appointments on your calendar for when you return.

14. Download travel information.

Many of our travel plans are conveniently saved in our emails. However, each time you check your travel plans, it can be tempting to check the rest of your inbox. Download your travel information to an accessible place — like your calendar.

15. Enjoy your vacation.

The best way to unplug is to plan a vacation that demands your full attention. For example, if you are hiking through the Grand Canyon, it is highly unlikely you won’t be tempted to check your phone. Make plans that include your favorite activities. It is much easier to avoid your electronics if you are genuinely engaged in your vacation.

Final thoughts

Vacation should be a time of enjoyment without the constant pull of your office responsibilities. If you struggle to disconnect yourself, then try these tricks. Enjoy the unplugged feeling on your next vacation.

15 Ways to Unplug Completely on Vacation was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

Why and How to Sever Ties With Bad Clients

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Sever Ties with Bad Clients

No founder enjoys losing a client. That goes double when the client has been with the company for years or contributes a large amount of revenue. However, when a client turns toxic or prevents the company from growing, founders have no choice but to cut ties. There are rules of why and how to sever ties with bad clients.

A client who is bothersome or needy does not necessarily merit firing.

An infographic from Invesp details that new customers are more expensive to acquire than existing ones is to retain, less likely to try new products and more profitable in the long term. By firing a client, the company might solve some immediate problems but create larger ones down the road. Every successful founder will eventually sever a few relationships, though. To keep company growth on track without creating unnecessary, hurt feelings, leaders need to understand when they have no other choice.

When to fire a client.

Startups should only fire clients in a few situations. Most importantly, if keeping the client is preventing the business from growing, founders should cut loose quickly. A company that started in one field but found massive opportunities in another cannot continue to dedicate resources to older, less profitable areas of business.

Clients may also merit firing when they have a negative effect on employee retention. Happy employees are productive employees. When workers continuously have to deal with a client who is never satisfied and always rude, they get less satisfaction from work, increasing the likelihood of burnout.

Talented and committed employee teams are far more valuable than any single client. In some cases, firing a bad client is like kicking a belligerent regular out of a restaurant. The company might miss the income, but the staff will be grateful knowing that management has their backs when push comes to shove.

Firing a client the right way.

Most clients won’t be happy about losing a vendor. Once the decision becomes final, the founders need to know how to navigate the conversation without causing unnecessary problems.

Keep these rules in mind when cutting ties with a client:

1. Leave pride at the door.

Before making the first move, think about the factors driving the confrontation. If this client is generally good for the business, don’t let one lousy interaction sour the relationship beyond repair — especially if the company is at fault.

Be willing to make amends if the client suffered the first insult. Michael Luchies, the founder of TrepRep, recommends full ownership of mistakes in times of strife. Only if the relationship has become harmful for the business (and not just personal pride) should the firing process proceed to the next step.

2. Decide on acceptable solutions.

If the relationship is broken beyond repair in its current state, outline acceptable solutions to the problem first. Would this relationship be better if the client continued to use some services but not others? Could this relationship resume later? Has the relationship deteriorated beyond the point of repair?

Answer these questions before making any ultimatums. Don’t let the client come in with an unconsidered compromise. If that happens, it may prolong an inevitable separation and create bad blood on both sides.

3. Outline an exit plan.

With the final decision to separate, walk the client through the exit strategy. Be willing to complete all current projects on time and budget, if possible, or be prepared to talk about how to hand over the unfinished work.

If you are leaving a client behind, it is an excellent time to be familiar with the contract, but don’t let legalese set the tone of the conversation. Relying on “Section 5, Article 4, Paragraph 3,” is a cowardly way to end a relationship.

Instead, talk to the client like a human being and be clear about expectations for the future. Knowing the underlying agreement provides structure for the conversation, not ammunition for an attack.

4. Stay committed to the plan.

Bad clients who get fired don’t always take the news well. If you think you can burn a client via email, they might call and start yelling. If they’re already on the phone, they might try to guilt or bargain their way out of the situation.

Remember all the research and difficulty that led to this hard decision. Bring a written list of reasons into the conversation as a reminder of why this became necessary. Offer recommendations for other providers but stay committed to the final decision.

Not all bad clients require active damage control when they get fired. Plenty of them understand the reasons and wish the best for both parties. When that happens, feel free to leave the door open for collaboration down the road. Just remember – the situation deteriorated for a reason. Unless the factors that soured the relationship change, a second attempt would end up the same as the first.

Why and How to Sever Ties With Bad Clients was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

How to Break Your Bad Time Management Habits

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Time management habits

Many founders love to compete on who gets the fewest hours of sleep, who works the longest and who takes the most infrequent vacations. This toxic attitude about time is not only unhealthy but unproductive. Here are some ideas about how to break your bad time management habits.

Americans are especially bad about working long hours. If you are in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world working too many hours, you need to break your bad time management habits.

The International Labor Organization found that Americans average 137 more work hours per year than Japanese workers and 260 more than British workers. That’s nearly one extra working month per year compared to Japan, a country that has a word for “death due to overwork.”

In a nation of over-workers, founders seem to work more than just about everyone.

It’s easy to see why. Popular media idolizes founder martyrdom, and people like Gary Vaynerchuk tell would-be entrepreneurs that they have to work 18 hours a day to succeed.

Fortunately, there’s more to success than working long hours. The most successful founders are not the ones who force themselves to work late into the night, but the ones who do more in eight hours than most people do in those elusive 18 hours.

Use these tips to get more from the workday and let other people handle the late shift:

1. Schedule it, do it and forget it.

No one can multitask, even people who pride themselves on their ability to do so. Research from the American Psychological Foundation found that multitasking carries a host of hidden costs. According to the researchers, the best way to multitask — is not to do it at all.

Avoid the temptation to multitask by scheduling time to handle batches of small tasks throughout the day. For example, set one time during the morning and one time during the afternoon to answer emails, then ignore the inbox outside those windows. Schedule a couple of short breaks to avoid burnout and maintain focus.

Practice decisiveness by setting deadlines on when to make final choices.

That might mean deciding on a new vendor by the end of the week. Decide on which flight to take by the end of the next 10 minutes. Get into the habit of acting on available information to cut down on unnecessary balking. If the decision isn’t correct — you can pivot just as quickly.

2. Fight the urgency effect.

Founders who answer every email, phone call, and meeting summons barely have time to sleep, let alone work on their companies. Determine quickly whether a task requires the attention of the founder and delegate any work that someone else could handle just as well.

A phenomenon called the urgency effect, covered in the New York Times, describes why people perform minor tasks they don’t need to do, even when larger projects await. Human brains enjoy the satisfaction of completing tasks, so they direct people to complete everything in front of them regardless of how those tasks affect the big picture.

Fight the urgency effect by following a straightforward rule: if someone else can do it, someone else should do it.

Founders face plenty of work that only they can accomplish (such as high-level sales and investor relationships). Don’t waste precious time on administrative work or in meetings that someone else could attend.

3. Keep a notebook.

Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, could use any productivity tool in the world. He could even hire a team of developers to build one just for him. Instead, he uses the most straightforward tool possible — the note-taking app on his iPhone.

Dorsey understands what every innovative person does: thoughts are fleeting. A potential solution to a longstanding problem might seem obvious in one moment, but when it comes time to tackle the issue again, the brilliant idea may not seem so clear.

With a bit of practice, efficient entrepreneurs can make impressive progress in just a few hours.

Keep a notebook throughout the day to jot down ideas, short to-do lists, and anything else that merits a written reminder. Get into the habit of externalizing thoughts. Entrepreneurs have plenty on their minds, and they can’t keep track of everything without a few things slipping out. Less time spent reconstructing old ideas means more time to execute and move on to the next something.

Why work late into the evening when a few productivity adjustments during the day work just as well? Drop out of the additional content on hours logged and start doing more with the rest of the workday.

How To Break Your Bad Time Management Habits was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

15 Productivity Hacks to Get More Done Each Day

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productivity hacks

In an ideal world, you would breeze through your to-do’s and still have time to do everything you enjoy. Unfortunately, many of us come home from working feeling discouraged because we wish that we could have gotten more done. Instead of beating yourself up for not getting enough done in 2020, start using these 15 productivity hacks to get everything you want, accomplished.

1. Become a time management ninja using your Calendar.

If you want to be more productive then you should only be focusing on activities that deserve your time. The best way to achieve this is by effectively managing your calendar.

As Renzo Costarella writes in a previous Calendar post, “On a basic level, most people use their calendar to schedule meetings, with each empty slot representing a time when you’re available. If you only had a couple of meetings scheduled in a day, this leaves considered free time.”

“A great strategy to use for calendar management is time blocking. As you schedule meetings on your calendar block out times throughout the day for finishing specific tasks,” adds Costarella. “That way you’ll accomplish what you need without over-extending yourself to meetings or unfocused tasks.”

2. Stick to a “work uniform.”

Yes, he gets in hot water over and over, now. But, as a business professional, did you ever wonder why Mark Zuckerberg used to wear the same outfit over-and-over again? The same orange t-shirt was because it saved him time and stress. Instead of spending 20-minutes looking for an outfit and worrying how he looked in it, Zuck already knew what he was going to wear and how’d he look.

As an added perk, wearing the same thing ensured that he was saving his energy for more important decisions. “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” Zuckerberg said. He also mentioned that he had “multiple grey shirts.”

When it comes to your work outfit, it can actually be whatever you prefer. Steve Jobs wore turtlenecks, while some professionals have a handful of suits on rotation. The idea is to have a minimalist and comfortable wardrobe that also reflects your industry. Grey t-shirts may be acceptable in Silicon Valley, but times are changing. And even an incredible t-shirt is not okay in the courtroom. I see the millennials looking quite snappy these days. Do cast a critical eye around every once in a while — so you don’t look like you are homeless.

3. The Pomodoro Technique

This is one of the most well-known hacks out there. And, for good reason, it’s been used by successful and productive people for decades because it helps:

  • You focus on the task at hand.
  • Eliminates multitasking.
  • Develops a sense of urgency.
  • Helps you stop being a perfectionist.
  • Reduces stress because you’re doing one thing at a time.
  • Gives your brain a chance to relax and recharge.

If you’re new to this concept, it’s simply where you break all of your tasks into 25-minute blocks of time. After those 25-minutes are up, you take a 5-minute break. After four of these 25-minute blocks you take a longer break — usually 15-30 minutes. Of course, people have modified this technique to better fit their own personal preference habits — but the idea is the same.

4. Keep one-day a week meeting free.

“One of my favorite hacks is No Meeting Wednesdays, which we borrowed from Facebook,” writes Dustin Moskowitz, CEO of Asana. “With very few exceptions, everyone’s calendar is completely clear at least one day out of the week. Whether you are a Maker or a Manager, this is an invaluable tool for ensuring you have some contiguous space to do project work. For me personally, it is often the one day each week I get to code.” This also eliminates the time wasted at unproductive meetings.

5. Group “like” jobs.

Also known as batching, this is a productivity hack where you group similar tasks together and complete them at the same time. This way you’re using the same frame of mind and not constantly shifting focus. For example, checking all of your emails, texts, and social messages first thing in the morning. Another example would be doing most of your cooking for the week on a Sunday since this involves not just preparing the meal, but also cleaning up afterward.

6. Follow the two-minute rule.

From David Allen’s bestselling book, Getting Things Done, this rule simply states that if something takes under two minutes to complete, then you should just do it. With the two minute rule, you can cross off all of these small tasks before they consume your thoughts and time.

7. Limit your phone usage.

What’s your biggest distraction? It’s most likely your phone, and that makes sense. Every time you phone buzzes, you stop what you’re doing and check out the notification — whether if it’s a text, email, or social media notification. That may not sound like a big deal, but considering that it takes 25-minutes to return to the original task, you can now see why you should limit your phone usage.

If you have the self-discipline, put your phone on silent on airplane mode. If you can’t then use the Moment app. If you’re Android 6.0 Marshmallow then make use the Do Not Disturb mode. Schedule in specific times to check your phone, like eight a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m. and you’ll still remain in the loop without checking your phone every five minutes.

8. Listen to music.

Music has been found to maintain focus and help you stay productive, but, pick your music wisely. Listening to pop music may not be effective since you’re singing along. There’s a nifty app called Focus At Will that can help determine which type of music helps you concentrate best. As a result, you’ll boost your productivity.

9. Use a bullet journal.

Most productive use notebooks to jot down their thoughts and ideas. It’s a surefire way to help them remember these things. But, instead of a notebook, start bullet journaling. This strategy is basically an empty notebook that is your calendar, to-do list, sketchbook, and a diary in one location. What makes it so useful is that it can be organized any way you want.

10. Set macro goals and micro quotas.

There was a study on motivation that shows abstract thinking can be an effective method to help with discipline. In other words, you need to balance “dreaming big” with intrinsic motivators, aka the self-determination theory.

The best course of action here is to set “micro quotas” and “macro goals.” While your goals should relate to your big picture, the quotas are the minimum amount of work you must do daily to achieve those goals. For example, if you’re writing a book, then your quota could be writing two pages a day.

11. Chew more gum.

I love coffee. It’s delicious and gives me a much-needed boost — like I’m sure it does for you. However, like everything else in life, too much of it can be a bad thing. For example, coffee has been found to trigger anxiety — and you don’t want that when you’re already stressed. Instead of pouring another cup of Joe, chew some gum. Studies have found that chewing gum can helps with concentration and retaining information.

12. Use red and blue.

Your workspace has a major influence on your productivity. That’s why you should always keep it organized and clutter-free — along with getting some plants and exposing yourself to natural sunlight. However, you should also incorporate some red and blue around your workspace. According to a Science Daily study, red can help increase attention to details while blue can spark creativity.

13. Procrastinate productively.

You turn on Netflix to decompress or clear your head. Next thing you know you just watched an entire season of a show. That’s not good. Here’s the thing. We need to procrastinate occasionally. It’s a great way to recharge and refocus. But, you should be procrastinating productively. As opposed to watching Netflix, pick-up a book or take your dog for a log-walk.

14. Find your “golden hours.”

You’ve probably heard that you should eat a frog each morning. Not literally. It actually means that you should get your most important task done and over with first thing in the morning. We tend to be focused and energetic in the morning. Instead of eating that frog, schedule your most important tasks for the time that works best for you. If you’re unsure about your own “golden hours” then check out “The Perfect Workday to Maximize Motivation.”

15. Just be you.

Darrin Brege, the Creative Director and strategist at HelloWorld, encourages his team to design, build, and race paper boats. Adrienne Weissman, the chief customer officer of G2 Crowd, choreographs a dance routine to her favorite song in her head.

While these hacks are able to make you more productive in 2020, the truth is they may not work for you. If there’s something you do that keeps you pushing forward, then go ahead and keep doing it.

15 Productivity Hacks To Get More Done Each Day was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

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