All posts by John Rampton

The 20 Best Chrome Extensions You have to Download

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What’s not to love about Chrome? It’s a fast and well-designed browser with a web store that’s packed full of extensions to help make your web browsing simpler. You’ll be more productive, and life will be a whole lot more enjoyable. Here are the 20 best chrome extensions you have to download.

But, with so many extensions out there, which are the creme de la creme of Chrome extensions? Here is a list of twenty extensions that you should download to get started.

1. Calendar

You just attended a conference and did a little networking. You met a promising lead and want to schedule a lunch meeting with them ASAP. Easy, right? It’s not if you aren’t using a scheduling tool like Calendar.

Instead of those time-consuming back-and-emails, Calendar is a free app that puts the scheduling process on autopilot.

Simply share your calendar availability with others via email or embedded with invitees. They then pick a date and time that they’re also free. Once they choose a time, the event is automatically added to everyone’s calendar.

Calendar always taps into the power of machine learning. The machine learning is providing a better experience for you by using previous decisions to make future suggestions on when, where, and what type of meetings you should schedule.

2. LastPass

If you thought those back-and-forth emails to schedule a meeting were time-consuming and frustrating, then about all the time you waste remembering or searching for your online passwords? That’s not taking into account the time spent trying to recover your permanently lost or forgotten passwords.

Considering that the average business user has a whooping 191 passwords, this is a genuine struggle.

With LastPass, this is no longer a concern since you only have to remember one master password. The secure, free extension then stores all of your usernames and passwords and will autologin to the sites that you visit.

LastPass can also help you generate super secure passwords for you, and there’s a place where you can keep essential notes — even if you’re offline.

3. HTTPS Everywhere

Created in collaboration between the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tor Project, this Chrome extension — it’s also available as a FireFox extension — switches websites from insecure “Http” to secure “https” automatically.

Why’s that important?

If you’re concerned about surveillance and account hijacking, as well as some forms of censorship, then this extension is a huge deal.

4. Data Saver

Data compression, to make your online browsing more efficient, isn’t a new development. However, being built into browsers like Chrome is.

Data Server is a free Chrome add-on that uses Google’s servers to compress website data to optimize the web pages you visit. It also allows users can look at additional details, such as how much data is being saved and consumed.

5. Cite This For Me

If you’ve ever need citations for a presentation, research paper, eBook, or blog post, then you know that sometimes it can get tricky since there are a variety of ways to cite your sources.

This handy extension does the legwork for you. Just browse the page you need to cite and click the button. Cite This For Me then automatically generates the correct citation — either APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard. All you have to do is copy-and-paste the citation into where it needs to be placed, and you’re done.

I wish this around when I was in college.

6. Typio Form Recovery

There you are spending a Saturday afternoon filling out an insurance claim or tax return. You hit submit and receive the dreaded error page. You could scream. Now you have to start from scratch.

The Typio Form Recovery is a handy extension that automatically saves the text as your typing. So if your internet connection drops or your session has timed out, you won’t lose what you’ve already entered.

7. Unpaywall

Believe it or not, you may still need to access academic papers when you’re out of college. I rely on academic documents to back-up my points when writing a blog post or white paper. I even use scholarly research to validate business ideas.

Of course, you can’t read most of these papers unless you pay for a subscription fee. For publications that you use frequently, this isn’t’ a big deal. But what if it’s a one-time deal?

With Unpaywall, you can search for the research you need. It then locates free, and legal, versions for you. It’s a great extension if you want to save time and money.

8. AdBlock Plus

No list of essential Chrome extensions would be complete without AdBlock Plus.

This popular extension blocks those annoying banner, pop-up, and video ads so that they can browse online without being disturbed. AdBlock Plus also blocks and tracks malware.

The extension is also configurable in that you can block all ads or just those on a particular site.

9. Evernote Web Clipper

I’m guilty of getting distracted by interesting articles when I should be working. After all, when I’ll either forget or can’t find the article.

Thankfully, the Evernote Web Clipper takes care of that for me.

When I come across something interesting, I click on the elephant icon, and the extension will save either the entire article, a simplified version of it (this contains no pictures or formatting), a screenshot, or just a bookmark.

If you don’t use Evernote and are a Pocket user, there’s a similar extension for you called Save to Pocket.

10. Pablo

Pablo is a free app designed by the folks at Buffer. It lets you snag engaging social media-friendly captioned images that you can then add them to your preferred social network, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Considering that visual content increases views and shares, this is an essential extension if you want to improve your social efforts.

Pablo allows you to customize these images with fonts, effects, and formatting to match the social media platform that you’re posting the images to.

11. Pushbullet

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the zone only to get distracted by a notification on my smartphone. I’ve gotten better — I put my smartphone in airplane mode or silent — but I also don’t want to miss any vital messages.

Pushbullet solves this problem by placing all of your SMS, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp messages into your browser. Even phone calls can be sent to your desktop and answered if you have a headset.

For me, it’s much faster to respond to a text on my laptop keyboard than on my smartphone.

12. Boomerang

Emails can be a real drain on your productivity.

For Gmail users, the Boomerang extension changes all of that thanks to the useful Inbox Pause feature that blocks emails from distracting you during times of deep focus.

It schedules emails so that you’re not bothering recipients at 5:00 am or when they’re on vacation. Boomerang also reminds you to send follow-ups, pay bills, and wish someone a happy birthday. It also tracks your emails, so you know whether or not the recipient opened your email.

13. The Great Suspender

It happens occasionally. You’re researching school or work, or just browsing around, and you realize that you have way too many tabs open. You don’t want to close them because you may need a couple of them. So, what’s the solution — besides going through each tab one-by-one?

Download the Great Suspender extension.

It suspends the activity on abandoned tabs so that your computer doesn’t slow down. If you need to revisit that tab, click it and you’re good to go. It also lets you select tabs that you don’t want to suspend.

14. is one of the best cross-platform to-do list apps to help boost your productivity and manage your time more effectively. With the Chrome add-on, you can sync your tasks and checklists seamlessly to and from your mobile devices and your desktop.

Users can also create new lists and reminders, add notes, share tasks, and quickly organize items with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface directly from your browser.

15. StayFocused

Looking for a way to stop wasting time and focus more on work? Then you need to download the StayFocusd extension.

With StayFocused, you set a specific amount of a time to spend on particular sites and apps that waste your time, like social networks or feed readers. When you reach that limit, the extension will block access to those sites.

Simple. But definitely effective.

16. Nosili

One of the biggest distractions is noise — like that jackhammer or siren that never seems to stop. However, there are times when just a little bit of ambient noise can help calm you down, encourage focus, and clear your mind.

Noisli is an extension where you can boost your productivity and focus by blocking out distracting noises and replacing them with soothing ambient sounds right from your browser.

17. HabitLab

HabitLab is another extension that can increase your productivity since it blocks distracting sites like Twitter, Redditt, and YouTube. But, here’s what makes HabitLab unique. You tell the extension your goals, such as hiding habits or pausing videos, so that you don’t spend as much time on these sites. These are called interventions, and overtime, HabitLab determines which interventions work best for you.

It also uses GIFS to keep you motivated. For example, if you close Twitter after a couple of seconds, you’ll receive a “Good job!” GIF

18. Grammarly

You don’t need to be a writer to get the most out of Grammarly. If you’re composing emails or social media updates, then the extension checks for spelling and grammar mistakes. That doesn’t sound like much. But even the simplest of spelling errors can do some serious damage to your reputation.

19. Honey

Do you spend several hours a week searching for the best deals and coupons? If so, Honey is the extension just for you.

It automatically finds and applies coupon codes for you. All you have to do is click on the Honey button when you’re checking out, and the extension will apply any discount codes for over 100 stores in the US, Canada, and the UK.

20. Go Back With Backspace

Before July 2016, the backspace key on your desktop keyboard also doubled as a back button in Chrome browsers. The Big G changed this because they realized that people were losing work while in web apps. Long story short, the backspace key doesn’t do anything now.

This extension restores this. Hence its name, Go Back With Backspace.

5 Reasons Why a Calendar Tool Helps You Manage Your Time

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You must learn to manage your time. As Renzo Costarella perfectly put it, “Time management is a skill that even the most seasoned business people struggle with.” But, it’s also one of the most important if you want to succeed in both business and life. That’s why I make the most out of my calendar tools. They’ve been able to help manage my time so that I’m productive day-in and day-out because of the following five reasons.

1. Creates a daily routine.

Let’s say that you wake-up on a Saturday morning and don’t have anything planned. Sure. There are things that you should do, like clean the house, but since it’s not set in stone you aimlessly wander around. The next thing you know you just binge-watched the entire new season of Stranger Things. There goes your entire Saturday — wasted. Sometimes it’s a good thing to not have anything planned. You’ve had an exhausting week and you need this time to rest and recharge. But, you can’t do that every day. In order to stop wasting time, you need to create a schedule and stick to it. When you have a plan, it prevents you from getting caught off-guard so that you remain productive. For me, that involves blocking out time for specific tasks in my calendar. My daily routine is something like this. I wake-up at 5:15 a.m. and spend the next two hours exercising, clearing out my inbox, and planning out the rest of my day. From around seven-eight a.m. to noon I work on my most important tasks. After lunch, I spend an hour responding to emails and phone calls. From two p.m. to four p.m. I go back to work and conclude my work day by finishing up some soft work, like tidying up my workplace. After dinner I go over my emails again and then plan my next day. This could change if I have a meeting or travel, but that’s my daily routine that I have scheduled into my calendar. Bonus tip: Make sure that when you block out time for your most important work that it coincides with your peak energy/focus levels of the day. For me, that’s between eight a.m. to 11 a.m. and two p.m. to four p.m.

2. Puts time limits on tasks to manage your time.

In my calendar I make sure that have set aside specific time limits for tasks. If I have to write a blog post, then I block out from eight a.m. to 10 a.m. For weekly time meetings I block out one p.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday. Doing so prevents working or meetings from dragging on-and-on. As a result, I’m not taking away from other activities.

3. Schedules meetings in advance.

Some meetings or appointments, such as weekly team meetings, can be planned in advance. I can then schedule these meetings for the foreseeable future into my calendar and share it with my team. But, what about unexpected meetings? To be honest, unless it’s an emergency, I don’t accept last minute meetings. It forces me to juggle my work day around, which can then throw my entire week out-of-whack. I at least try to plan a meeting 24 hours in advance so that I’m prepared and can still attend to my priorities. And, the best part, is that thanks to tools like Calendar, this can be done effortlessly. With Calendar I I share my availability via email or embedded link with the other party. They then select the time that works best for them. Once they do, the event is added to both of our calendars. Since this eliminates those back-and-forth emails, meetings can be scheduled pretty much automatically. Now I can focus on getting my work done without frequently going into my inbox.

4. Keeps your time in-check.

What time does your next meeting start? When are your guests expected to arrive at a dinner party? When do you need to finish a certain task. I mark these deadlines and times clearly in my calendar and organizer so that I can keep my time in-check. For instance, if I block out three hours of meetings on a Monday, then I use appointment slots in Google Calendar. This way if I have three meetings I can split this time into three meetings – an hour for each. If my friends are coming over for dinner at six p.m., then I’ll schedule the previous hour for getting dressed, straightening-up the house, and getting dinner started. If I have a deadline with a client, then my calendar reminds me when it has to be completed. Simply put, calendar tools keep my time in-check is that I’m not scrambling around at the last second.

5. Manage Your Time by plannning for breaks.

Despite the misconceptions, breaks are not a waste of time. In fact, breaks are essential if you want to remain productive. This is because regularly scheduled breaks help you recharge, refocus, gain perspective, and ensure that you’re taking care of yourself. In my calendar, I schedule a half-an-hour break at around 10 a.m. During this period I go for a quick walk, make a fresh cup of coffee, and quickly catch-up with my spouse, friends, or mentor. Taking this break clears my head, gets the blood pumping, and provides guidance when I hit the wall.
Originally published here.

Motivation Secrets of Productive People

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Make no mistake about it. Motivation will increase your productivity. “Motivation and productivity are twin concepts in organizational development,” wrote Kristina Dems for Bright Hub. “First, motivation works as the means toward attaining productivity as an end. Another point: Motivation is the best road to follow to reach productivity as a favorable effect. Lastly, motivation is the stimulus to trigger productivity as a response.” Think about how this effects you and effects your life. When you’re not feeling motivated, you’re not going to accomplish much. That’s because you don’t have the drive to get things done. And, to put it lightly, that sucks. Now you’re behind on your planned goals or a task, which means you’re going to get behind another and another. Eventually, everything starts to pile-up. With no end in sight, you become even less motivated. That’s why the most productive people employ the following motivation secrets to guarantee that they’re always ahead of the game.

1. When plans are made, they anticipate obstacles.

Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, in New York City, conducted a study in 2009 that compared two groups of women who wanted to be more active. The groups were both provided information on how to live a healthy lifestyle. However, the second group was also taught how to foresee obstacles by using if-then statements. For example, if they wanted to jog, but the weather is poor, then what will you do? The women would say, “if it’s snowing, then I’ll go to the gym and use the treadmill.” Suffice it to say, the second group fared far better. Gollwitzer concluded that those who plan for obstacles are more likely to follow through on projects. This is because they don’t have any excuses for completing the task at hand.

2. They “don’t break the chain.”

Years ago software developer Brad Isaac asked Jerry Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comedian. Seinfeld told him that the only way to become a better comic was to create better jokes. And the only way to create better jokes was to write daily. But, that was just scratching the surface. Ultimately, the legendary comic unveiled his unique calendar system that kept him motivated every day. Jerry told Isaac to get a huge wall calendar “that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall.” Then, go get a red magic maker. He told Isaac that for each day he writes to to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.” “Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld said again for emphasis. Isaac says that this “works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes.” And, those daily actions build habits.

3. Live life from their calendars.

According to The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List, by Janet Choi and Walter Chen of iDoneThis:
  • 41 percent of to-do list items are never completed.
  • 50 percent of to-do list items are completed within a day, many within the first hour of being written down.
Why is this the case when so many people swear by to-do-lists? For starters, tasks on your to-do-lists are distinguished between those that only take a couple of minutes and those will last hours. Additionally, they emphasize the urgent instead of the important. And, they can add unnecessary stress. Because of these reasons, highly productive people don’t use to-dos. They live from their calendars instead. “Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks,” says Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm. “It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile as far as organization goes.” “If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. If it’s on the calendar, it gets done no matter what. Use this not just for appointments, but workouts, calls, email blocks, etc.”

4. They don’t multitask.

Despite the myths, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, it slows you down. This is because your brain is switching tasks and focus, which means it takes you longer to complete tasks. In order to stay productive, you need to focus on thing at a time. Due’s Miranda Marquit uses the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused on one specific task at a time. This also boosts productivity since you’re dedicating your mental energy on one specific item. As a perk, since you’re giving this one task 110 percent, chances are that there will be fewer mistakes. This means you won’t have to back and fix your errors, you can just move onto to something else.

5. Not controlled by technology.

“I was a Division I college athlete, and I grew up with five brothers and two sisters. I’ve always been a competitor. [But] I’ve learned that productivity should not be a competitive sport. You’re never going to win,” Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte, tells Fast Company. “I am responsible for almost 80,000 people. I prioritize people over tasks. One Note allows me to put different tasks [involving] each of my executive-team members in a tab. That way when I talk to them, I can be more effective, because the five things I want to talk to them about [are right there].” “If I looked at email and Twitter and texts [during the day], I don’t think I would ever give my full attention to anything. You cannot be insightful if you’re deluged with information.” Engelbert adds, “We’re all drowning in data. We all need moments of recovery. For me, that includes not going right to my phone when I wake up in the morning. I got on a plane about six months ago, and I forgot my phone. For two days, I didn’t have my phone, and nobody died.” Her final words of advice? “Technology should help you do your job, not control your job.”

6. They use a notebook.

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg all carry a notebook around. The reason? They rely on pen and paper to keep track of and remember all of their thoughts and ideas. “I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to write down my ideas as soon as they came to me,” Branson wrote in a blog post. “You think you’ll remember, but you won’t, and you’ll forfeit all the thoughts that flood you after you’ve freed your mind from remembering the initial spark,” adds Drew Hanson. For Sandberg, she uses a notebook as a kind of daily planner. She jots down her to-do lists. Once she’s accomplished those items, she rips the pages out of her notebook. It’s a simple way to stay motivated for staying on track.

7. They work backwards from the future.

Steve Jobs once asked, “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” “If too many days passed by with the answer being ‘no,’ he’d adjust his lifestyle until he hit a consistent yes,” explains HubSpot’s Scott Tousley. “This forced Steve to define long-term goals and stay motivated.” This may sound drab, but the most productive people “think about the end of their lives,” which helps them define their legacy. With this in mind, they then “work backwards to achieve those goals.” “This touches on the psychological theories and models of motivation. If we’re driven by a purpose, we’re more likely to work extra hard,” says Tousley. But, how does starting with your purpose keep you productive and motivated? Starting with a purpose or “personal mission statement,” leads to the creation of long-term goals. Long-term goals lead to smaller goals, which create to-do-lists. So, if you want to productive like Steve Job, define your purpose first and everything else will fall into place.

8. They’re friends with time.

Really productive people, or RPPs as Marie Forleo calls them, are friends with time. In other words, “they don’t look at time as the enemy.” If you do, you’ll end-up always struggling with productivity and motivation. And, this makes sense. Whenever you could something the “enemy” it’s only going to end-up being a source of pain. Instead, make time your ally. You can start by ditching time-stealing habits like multitasking and procrastination. You can achieve by practicing:
  • Mindfulness. This will help you focus on one task at a time.
  • Acceptance. Concentrating only on what you can control.
  • Authenticity. This encourages self-management since it helps you decide what to do and when to do it.

9. They create theme days.

Want to know how Jack Dorsey juggles all of his obligations at Twitter and Square? He creates theme days. Here’s what Jack said about this in 2011:
“The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company…Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company, the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.”
How has that schedule help Jack work eight hours at both companies? The first reason the schedule works is that it establishes a rhythm. You know what to expect every day because you’ve created a routine to keep you focused. Secondly, it challenges you to complete tasks on certain deadlines. If you record a podcast every Tuesday like John Lee Dumas, then you know that you have the podcast prepared by that day. Finally, it batches similar tasks together. This keeps you productive since it streamlines activity and eliminates distractions.

10. Bring optimism and fun back into the picture.

This may sound hokey, but research shows that the key to motivation is bringing optimism and fun. Ron Siegel, a psychology professor at Harvard University, explains: “Our modern brains are still wired up for the ancient evolutionary purpose of surviving in a dangerous environment. Over a million years or so, we developed specialized neural structures that selectively tuned in to danger signals. The prospect of getting attacked necessarily outranked all other neurological priorities.” And, unfortunately, we still go into that survival mode. Instead of thinking about the pleasurable and rewarding experience of conquering a task, we focus on anxiety and fear. For example, you just started a new business. You’re probably dwelling more on the fear of failure instead of the excitement of improving your community. The best way to overcome this? Create basic two-columned pros and cons list so you can notice that the joys outweigh any fears or anxieties. When you actually see the positive, you’ll get yourself out of the rut you’re headed into. As Rick Steves has written, “Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something is not to your liking, change your liking.”
Originally published here.

Are You More Productive Working at Home?

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What do Amazon, Disney, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packards, Spanx, and Under Armor all have in common? If you guessed that they’re all billion-dollar companies, you wouldn’t be wrong. But, the answer I was looking for was that they all began as a home business. Are you more productive working at home?

Thanks to technology, however, launching your own business from the comfort of your home has never been easier. As long as you’ve got an internet connection, there’s no need to spend money on a luxurious office space. I know that might make you feel legit and give your ego a nudge. But, when you’re on a tight budget, this shouldn’t be a priority. Besides, you can set up your own sweet home office that’s just as good as any other space that you would rent.

At the same time, not everyone is cut out to work from home. Does that mean you have to invest in an office? Not necessarily. There other alternatives like cafes. But, a better solution may be a coworking space. It gives you that office vibe without having to fork over a ton of money. And, it may even boost your productivity enough where you’ll have the funds to get your own workspace sooner than imagined.

While working from home or coworking space are both viable options, which one is the better choice when it comes to your productivity? Well, let’s explore the pros and cons of each to help you answer that question.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Perhaps the most significant advantage of working from home is that there is zero commuting. That means not waking-up before the sunrises so that you can beat rush hour traffic. And, let’s not even talk about the stress and aggravation of getting stuck in traffic.

Instead, you can sleep in a little later. Or, if you really want to be productive, you can get a head start on your work. I’m a big fan of this option. The main reason being that if I start work around 7 A.M., I don’t have to worry about getting distracted from emails or phone calls because the workday hasn’t started for most people. Also, this is an excellent option for parents who can base their schedules around when their kids are in school.

Furthermore, you can wear whatever you like, create a custom work environment that inspires you, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Best of all? You don’t have to deal with common workplace distractions like chatty co-workers, pointless meetings, and office politics.

Why you shouldn’t work from home.

But, there are also some drawbacks when working from home, such as not having a set schedule. That may not some like a dealbreaker. But, if you aren’t disciplined, you’ll end up sleeping in too late or taking a two-hour lunch to catch up with a friend. As a result, you’ll have to waste time working later into the day or even during the weekends. Even worse, you may fall behind your work and miss important deadlines.

There also distractions that are unique to working from home. Examples include household chores, deliveries, and being tempted to veg out on the couch and stream Stranger Things all day. There are also interruptions from friends and family. And, as any dog owner, you’ll let you know, when your furry friend wants to play or go outside, they do not care how focused you are on work.

Finally, it can get lonely working from home. We’re social creates, and not interacting with others throughout the day can be taxing on us.

So, while working from home is appealing, it’s not always the best working environment if you want to be effective and productive.

The Pros and Cons of Coworking Spaces

Perhaps the most appealing part of a coworking space is that they have a start-up vibe. You’re surrounded by highly motivated people who are passionate about what they’re doing. There are amenities like snacks, coffee, and foosball tables.

What’s more, coworking spaces allow you to socialize and interact with other talented people by working next to them or through networking events. In my experience, this is almost a once in a lifetime experience. For example, you could click with a coder or social media manager who you could hire to focus on tasks that grow your business. As a bonus, this also takes care of that isolation problem you had when working from home.

Also, coworking spaces are conducive to productivity. People go there to work. They also have a set schedule and are better suited to separate work from home since there are two different locations. Coworking spaces also have better technology and equipment then you might possess. And, if you ever had to schedule a meeting, you could meet them in the coworking space’s meeting or conference room.

Finally, as pointed out in an HBR piece, coworking spaces give meaning to your work. In a coworking space, you’re in a supportive environment where you don’t have to deal with the direct competition or internal politics. The social mission found in the Coworking Manifesto “clearly articulates the values that the coworking movement aspires to, including community, collaboration, learning, and sustainability.”

The problem with coworking spaces.

At the same time, there are some disadvantages you should be aware of, like lack of privacy. Since a lot of coworking spaces are open design, you could become easily distracted from all of the background noise. A pair of noise-canceling headphones could do the trick. But, people will then find other ways to communicate with you, such as email. No wonder the open-plan office are productivity killers.

Other disadvantages could be socializing too much with others and having to travel to and from the coworking space. If you live in a major city, this isn’t a biggie since that’s where most coworking spaces are located. But, if you live outside of a big city, expect to make that dreaded commute.

Are You More Productive Working at Home or in a Coworking Space?

That’s something that only you can answer. It ultimately depends on your personality and personal preferences. Other considerations would be the cost and the time spent commuting. But, if you’re still undecided, here are four questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you work better in silence, or do you need some background noise?
  • Are you easily distracted by others?
  • Does your business require you to have your own premises?
  • Are you a control freak? Remember, you have no say in how to design a coworking space.

Most importantly, carefully weigh the pros and cons of each. There’s no rush to make a decision right now. So, try out working at each to see which environment increases your productivity before going all-in on own your home office or committing to a coworking space contract.

Avoid the 10 Common Scheduling Mistakes

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I personally feel that a lot of people take a schedule for granted. But, if you want to be successful in life, creating and sticking to a daily schedule is a must. After all, it makes goals more achievable and ensures that you never miss deadlines or important events. Here are 10 common scheduling mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Scheduling helps you track your progress, prepare for the unexpected.

Careful scheduling is a preparation tool that safeguards your success and keeps costs down by preventing you from going over budget. A daily schedule can also make you more effective and efficient. It’s your schedule, and you can build it around when you have the most energy and focus. But, it also helps you avoid mental fatigue.

When you wake-up having a clear idea of how your day is going to play out, you fly into your day without hesitation, and you don’t have to think about it. That means making fewer decisions since you were able to plan way ahead of the days’ work. As you planned accordingly — you have begun ahead of everyone else.

Scheduling also keeps critical stakeholders in the loop. As an example, if you share your schedule with your family, then they won’t disturb you when you’re in a meeting or the middle of your deep work. As for your team, they’ll also be privy to this information, as well as project due dates or when you’ll be out of town. You can also have a team calendar.

In short, you need a schedule. But, you’ll only be able to experience these benefits if you avoid the ten following scheduling mistakes.

1. Not having a clear purpose.

“Time is precious, and you should value how you spend it,” wrote Katrina Ruth in a previous Entrepreneur article. “If you don’t decide what matters in advance, you’ll spend it all doing things that aren’t moving you forward.”

Ruth outlines her goals and dreams in a document she dubs “Creating the life I want.” Included in it are the “goals for myself (not others), identify the actions that will get me there, and schedule them each week.”

Ruth also suggests reviewing these “items on your list and either delete them, do them, or delegate them. Sometimes it’s worth paying someone else to do things so that you can focus on what really matters: the tasks that will get you where you want to go if you do them every day.”

In other words. You should only schedule items that have a clear purpose. Keep in mind the things that are pushing the needle closer to your goals and aspirations. As for everything else? Leave them so that you’re calendar isn’t full of unimportant entries.

2. Focusing on the wrong work at a bad time.

Even if you have identified the purpose behind whatever it is that you’re scheduling, there’s often a tendency to focus on that specific activity at an inopportune time. For example, focusing on urgent tasks over your most important ones.

In theory, this does make some sense. If you knock out all of these items first thing in the morning, they’re no longer hanging over your head. You may even want to keep that momentum going for the rest of the day.

The problem, however, is that you’re using your peak hours on trivial things. A better solution would be to schedule your most important priorities when you’re most productive. No matter what time you set the alarm, this is is usually shortly after waking. Now, when you have the most energy and focus, you can tackle these items instead of working on them, you’re mentally exhausted.

3. Being unrealistic with time.

Personally, I believe that this is the number one crime committed when it comes to scheduling. Let’s say that you have to crank out a blog post or provide a timeline on when a product will launch. If you over-or-underestimate on how long this will actually take, you’re more likely to throw your entire schedule off. Even worse, you may miss a deadline or waste valuable time for you and key stakeholders like employees and customers.

Spend a couple of weeks to track your time so that you have a better idea of the amount of time needed to finish a task or run a meeting. There’s even some handy time tracking apps that will do this for you.

Additionally, stop overcommitting. If you’re already swamped this week, then push back a meeting to next week. Don’t accept a new project until you’ve already wrapped the one you’re currently working on. And, say “no” to any request for your time.

If you’re working with a team, then you also need to be aware of their availability. If you took on a new project and you don’t have the available resources to meet the due date, then you’re only asking for terrible. Consult your staff on their workload before jumping on new opportunities.

4. Inappropriate level of detail.

Adding details to your schedule is definitely beneficial. For instance, when you just booked a conference call, it would help if you had some necessary information about the person on the other end of the line, such as their name, position, and meaning of the chat.

At the same time, you don’t want to include too many details, like their entire life story. Doing so will make your schedule too cumbersome to manage. And, if it’s shared with your employees, it may annoy the daylights out of them. Like you know, they probably only need the most relevant information to complete a task or prepare for a meeting.

5. Not adding buffers and breaks.

Every schedule should have a gap between entries. For instance, if you have meetings all day, then buffers guarantee that you’ll be on-time in case the previous meeting ran over the allotted time. If the event is off-campus, then this is a contingency plan if you get stuck in traffic. Most importantly, it gives you the time to decompress and prepare for the next meeting.

Even if you don’t have meetings scheduled, don’t forget to add breaks throughout the day. We can only focus on a specific activity for so long — we also need to eat, drink and use the restroom. Scheduling breaks allows our brains to refocus and recharge. Check out: “The Best Ways to Use Breaks to Be More Productive (Infographic).

6. Building your schedule in isolation.

When creating your schedule, you don’t need to run the entire thing by others. But, when you are collaborating or outsourcing tasks, then this is an absolute must.

For example, you’re constructing an upcoming marketing campaign. I highly doubt that you’re flying solo on this endeavor. The chances are that you’re working with people like content creators and marketers. If they weren’t aware of critical deadlines, then that’s going to lead to a lot of confusion and missed deadlines.

If you’re working with a team, consult with them as you put together your schedule. It’s the only way to set realistic goals and estimates, as well as keep everyone on the same page. And, it’s also helpful when scheduling meetings. The last thing that you want is to book an event where few invitees attend because they didn’t have the availability.

7. Not stacking meetings.

It should come as no surprise that meetings eat up a large part of your time. The average spends 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. Even if they are productive, people can still spend between 35-50% of their time in meetings.

“If you have to bounce between your work and a meeting every hour, it can be detrimental to your productivity,” wrote Renzo Costarella for Calendar. “Instead, try to stack your meetings within a certain time period.” Now you’ll be able to “plan your busy work around it instead of getting constantly interrupted.”

8. Being too rigid.

While you want to follow your schedule as carefully as possible, you also need to have a little flexibility. I mean, no matter how well organized and planned out your schedule is, things rarely go as planned. And, if you’re don’t have some wiggle room, you won’t be able to handle these unforeseen circumstances. Or, even worse, your entire schedule may now be off course for the near future.

I make it a point to leave some white space in my calendar. Usually, this is an hour or two of my day, where nothing is scheduled. That doesn’t mean that I’ll waste this time. It just gives me a little leeway if something pops up. And, if everything is running smoothly, then it’s the perfect time to go for a walk with my dog, reflect, or clean out my inbox.

9. Not updating your schedule.

Schedules are constantly changing. Don’t believe me? Just go back and let at what your schedule was like last year. Heck. Go and see how much it’s changed within the previous month. I bet you’ll notice that the month wasn’t exactly what you had planned, but thanks to putting out fires, rescheduled meetings, or adjusted due dates — you are ahead of the game.

While I do not doubt that you’re staying on top of your most essential tasks, block out a specific time each week to review your schedule. I do this every Friday afternoon. But, you can do this on a Sunday night or Monday afternoon if you prefer.

Regardless of when you review your schedule, make sure that it’s updated frequently to reflect on any real-time changes. Reflecting then quickly reviewing your calendar is most useful when you’re sharing your calendar with others. How ticked off would an employee be if they showed up to a meeting that was pushed back to next week?

10. Not using the right tools.

Finally, you can make scheduling stress-free by using the right tools. Take Calendar as an example. It eliminates those excessive back-and-forth communications when scheduling an event. Merely share your availability with others, and they’ll book a date and time that works for them. Furthermore, Calendar uses machine learning to make smart suggestions on when, where, and how to plan your next event.

The key is to find a scheduling tool that integrates with your existing calendar. And, most importantly, meets your exact needs.

4 Methods to Control Your Calendar Before It Controls You

By | Knowledge Base, Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments
appointment guide
Over the course of my career I’ve learned a lot about the importance of time management. How you as a business owner should control your calendar. Early on, I woke-up whenever I wanted and didn’t put an emphasis on my priorities. This pretty much resulted in aimlessly wandering through my days like a walker on “The Walking Dead.” But, that was just the beginning. I haphazardly accepted appointments, checked my emails every time I got a notification, and scheduled meetings at the last minute. And, to make matters worse, I was planning events when I should have been home with my family. I eventually realized that I was no longer focused or productive as I needed to be. Simply put, my calendar was taking control of my life — both in and out of the workplace. Thankfully, I was able to take back the reigns by utilizing the following four methods.

1. Take inventory and identify what’s not working.

First things first, get crystal clear on where your time is spent. If you’ve never done this before, simply keep a time journal. This is where you jot down everything you do and exactly how long each task takes you. This may sound tedious, but after about a week you’ll notice where you’re spending a bulk of your time. More importantly, you’ll identify the time wasters on your calendar. Once you do, you can make the proper adjustments to change things around. For example, if you noticed that you spend two or three hours a week scheduling meetings, then it’s time to look for a solution. In this case, you could use a tool like Calendar to eliminate this issue. You’ve now just freed up a couple of hours per week in your calendar to work on your priorities.

2. Create your routine.

Another perk of tracking your time is that it can help you create a daily routine. This is where you block time for specific activities. So, in a nutshell, your calendar consists of a bunch of blocks. My routine consists of a morning routine where I block out specific time for exercise, getting ready, writing, and responding to emails. I then block out from eight am to noon for undistracted work. My afternoons contain blocks for a nap, returning calls or emails, and hosting meetings. This method ensures that I stay focused on my priorities. It also ensures that I won’t let unplanned activities jump in and distract me from getting things done. I should add, that you should definitely block out time for rest. I block out time in the afternoon to take a nap and review my goals. It helps me recharge and refocus. If I didn’t block out this time, it would never happen.

3. Control Your Calendar by Stacking your Meetings.

If possible, try to schedule all your meetings on the same day or two each week. Ideally, you should schedule these meetings around 3pm, because research shows that this is the best times for meetings. The reason I use this method is fairly simply. It gives me a heads-up that I’m not going to complete as much work on these days. Instead, I’m going to be focused on conversations, exchanging ideas, and motivating my team. For me, this is a different type of work flow. I’m thinking differently when writing a blog post than when discussing an upcoming project with a colleague. By stacking my meetings, I can keep this more conversational flow going. At the same time, it’s guaranteeing that the meetings won’t interfere with my other work. One final note about meetings. Stop scheduling meetings back-to-back. This ensures that you won’t be running late for your next meeting. And, since meetings can run late, it may hold you up from leaving the office on-time and getting home. Give yourself a little buffer time so that you’re no longer running late. And, try not to schedule meetings late in the afternoon. Like don’t schedule right at 4:30pm unless you’re positive it’s just a quick 15-minute phone call.

4. Set boundaries, but also be flexible.

There’s a belief that once something has been scheduled into your calendar it’s set in stone. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s say you have a meeting with your team on a Monday afternoon. However, when you were planning out your day first thing in the AM you notice that your website crashed. The worst part is that it’s not a minor fix, it’s actually going to eat-up your entire morning or longer. This means that your entire schedule has to shift. The work you had planned in the morning now has to move into the afternoon. Now you have to reschedule that team meeting for another date or time. In short, the unexpected happens and you need to be flexible. Just make sure  when this happens, you give notice to the other party. At the same time, you have to set boundaries. If you’ve blocked out two hours of unexpected work, then don’t schedule a meeting or phone call during that time. Again, a tool like Calendar can help you accomplish these goals because it allows you to select when your calendar is open and when it is not. You then share this availability with others so that they can pick an open slot when they’re free.
Originally published here.

Determine Whether Working With a Friend is a Good Idea

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There’s no way to sugarcoat this; starting a business is no easy task. You wear multiple hats; you’re continually building clients, don’t forget networking. If you’ve built many businesses, as an entrepreneur — you understand the very real possibility of failure. But how do you determine whether working with a friend is a good idea?

Indeed, it’s a wonder that anyone would ever contemplate starting their own business. But, as Jimmy Dungan said in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have decided to make this journey just a little bit easier — by teaming up with someone else. For example, Bill Gates had Paul Allen, and Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. The reason? Each partner brings something different to the table — whether that be different skill sets, lessening the workload, or having additional access to funding.

Maybe you want someone to gripe to, or someone to run your ideas past and have a second set of eyes on a project.

But, instead of approaching a stranger or acquaintance, why not just go ahead and start a business with a friend? After all, it worked for Gates and Allen and Jobs and Wozniak. There have been many famous entrepreneurial teams. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, and William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson — so why can’t it work for you and your friend?

Well, before you and your best friend get too far ahead of yourselves, you both should take a close look at the good and bad of working side-by-side with a friend.

Why You Should Start a Business With a Friend

You have a co-founder that you know and trust.

After spending years being acquainted with your friend, you know what their belief systems are, how they react to specific situations, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You also know how to get under each other’s skin, so hopefully, you’ll avoid triggering those emotions while in the workplace.

More importantly, they are someone you trust entirely — and know that they would never intentionally do you any harm. What more do you want of a co-founder or colleague?

As Stephen Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

You can speak freely and comfortably.

When you have a trusting and honest friendship, you can pretty much say whatever’s on your mind freely and comfortably. Sure. There will be times when they’ll say something that you don’t want to hear — or that you don’t agree with — but you know what they’re saying is genuine and sincere.

As a result, you can keep each other in-check since you’re calling each other on your BS and ultimately do what’s best for the business.

Creates a positive work environment.

Having friends at work can be extremely beneficial. 70 percent of employees believe having office friends is the “most crucial” aspect of obtaining a fulfilling work life. What’s more, office friendships lead to higher engagement and productivity and a stronger connection to the company.

You have someone to bear your burdens.

Starting a business on your own, as already mentioned above, it no easy task. It can also be incredibly lonely.

But, when you have a friend by your side, you eliminate this loneliness. More important, you have someone to share your burdens with your — whether that be financial or completing tasks on-time. And, because they’re going through everything you are, you can vent to each, celebrate accomplishments, and even throw a couple of drinks back after a particularly challenging week.

You share the same vision.

Friends tend to think alike — that’s likely why you became friends in the first place. You and your friend being able to think alike is actually a great asset for your business.

You likely have the same goals, values, and vision for your business. Thinking alike can come in useful when you’re pitching an idea or your business to a client, prospective customer, or interested investors. If you know what your partner-in-crime is going to say next, then you can set them up seamlessly.

Decisions are easier to make.

As I just mentioned, friends tend to think alike and have a similar vision and belief system. That can make it easier to agree on business decisions — even if you have a different opinion personally.

Remember, spending too much time making a decision isn’t just time-consuming, it can also drain you mentally. You want to save that energy for more important decisions.

They accept your strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s say that public speaking isn’t your thing, but you’re one heck of a coder. But, your friend is charismatic and loves speaking. Instead of them asking you to pitch your business to an investor or at a conference, they would instead ask you to make a killer website to impress others. They also wouldn’t get upset or frustrated in areas that you’re weak — and vice versa.

Simply put, you accept each for you are. As a result, you can leverage each other’s strengths and improve on your weaknesses.

More friend time.

When you work with a friend, it sometimes doesn’t feel like work at all. You get to shoot the breeze, have fun, and create memories. As a result, going to work becomes more enjoyable and relieves stress.

Why You Should Not Work With a Friend

It can be hard to distinguish between work and play.

At the same time, chatting and hanging out all day isn’t always great for productivity. Instead of focusing on work, you’re busy talking about a movie you watched over the weekend. On the flip side, when you’re outside of the office, you may start talking shop instead of just enjoying each other’s company.

No matter how much you love your business, you both need to set boundaries and separate work from play.

Also, you may let workplace difference spill over into your personal lives. For example, if you and your friend are disagreeing on the direction of the business, and it becomes heated, that could make your social life a bit awkward.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

As friends, you probably know a lot about each other. But, knowing too much of others can erode respect.

For example, if you don’t agree with the lifestyle your friend is living, you may feel that they’re someone you shouldn’t work with. Even despite the fact they’ve shown up to work every day bringing their A-game.

Who’s the boss?

Even if you’ve agreed on established roles, it can still be tough to take orders from your friend — and they probably feel the same. As a result, there may be a power struggle.

You must compartmentalize relationship issues.

Friends fight. But, you can’t let those little personal squabbles interfere with the business. No matter how ticked you are at each other — you must remain professional and discuss any disagreements calmly and rationally.

In other words, you need to learn how to compartmentalize any relationship issues you have. Just because you’re at odds personally doesn’t mean that you’re currently at odds with your business partner.

Performance issues can be awkward to address.

When an employee isn’t delivering the results you expect, the conversation isn’t complicated. You have a conversation with them, determine what the problem is, and discuss the ways that they can be more productive.

That conversation isn’t so straightforward with your friend. You may be too empathetic, or they’ll take what you’re saying too personal. It may be an awkward conversation, but it’s necessary if you want your business to thrive.

Friendships don’t always translate to business compatibility.

Sure. You and your friend may share similar values and philosophies. But, you may have completely different approaches to completing various business tasks. That can lead to conflict and when trying to build your business model and company culture.

You know the same people.

Networking is critical when starting a business. But, how much networking can you do when you and your partner know the same people?

Networking may be a greater challenge, but knowing how to find and establish new connections may not be challenging.

A failed business can lead to a failed friendship.

If you fail in this business venture — it can be the absolute worst-case scenario.

Let’s say the business fails, and you blame each other for the failure. You didn’t just lose business; you also lost your friend.

If you’re still on the fence about working with a friend, here are some questions you should ask yourself. Determinations will become more apparent with questions.

  • Do you share the same business goals and values?
  • Do your work habits and schedules align?
  • Can you complement each other’s skills and talents?
  • What roles and responsibilities should each partner take-on?
  • How will you resolve conflicts?
  • Are your personal lives stable?
  • How long have you known each other?

Just make sure that you cover all of the topics to do with your business that you can think of. A first business venture is usually the one that friends get together in. You want the best from your first business venture. Take the time to set up all of the parameters so that you and your friend can remain great partners through thick and thin.

Be Productive During Your Summer Slump

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It’s long been known as a fact, that productivity at work plummets during the summer — especially in July and August. A study by Captivate Office Pulse found that during the summer, productivity decreases by 20 percent. Additionally, attendance drops by 19 percent and work turnaround time increase by 13 percent.

There are several reasons why this is the case. The most obvious is that a lot of people are taking vacations during this time of year. Even if you’re still hustling, employees, investors, vendors, and clients might be out of town. It’s tough to get things done when decision-makers are out of town.

Another culprit is the weather. Most of us can’t focus when it’s nice outside. Since we’d rather be outdoors, we get more distracted. Research from the Harvard Business School backs they claim up. They found that crummy weather conditions, like rain, encourage us to be more productive since we aren’t getting cognitively distracted.

Moreover, we get distracted by FOMO. We see a friend relaxing on the beach, and we focus on how awesome that would be instead of working. There’s also the weather. When it’s too hot, it’s harder to make decisions and humidity makes lose concentration. As a result, we crank up the AC. But, when it’s too cold, we tend to make more errors.

So, yeah. Summer doesn’t just slow you and your business’s productivity; it can put you in a slump. Of course, there some ways to prevent this from happening. For example, shifting your priorities, having meetings outside, and shaking up your routine. But, fighting against this all summer can be exhausting. Instead, use this lull to your advantage and become productive during your summer slump.

1. Catch up on some reading.

I don’t have to tell you just how vital reading is. While I do read daily, there are times when I don’t get to learn as much as I would like. But, thankfully, I can always count on the summer to catch up on books and even industry publications.

The best part about reading is that you don’t have to catch up on reading. Reading can always be a part of what you do. Read something light if you wish to, during a long weekend or vacation. Or maybe — heavy reading should be done right now? What works best for your learning? Because the office is usually a little less hectic, I’m able to read in my office during breaks throughout the day.

2. Learn something new.

Just like reading, learning is essential for entrepreneurs. Make time for this piece of your life. Of course, a lot of us are way too busy to stop what we’re doing to make this something we do daily. However, since there’s some downtime right now, it’s the perfect summer activity.

What you want to learn is entirely up to you. But, it should be something that will help you grow as a person. You may choose to improve by learning a new language, how to play a musical instrument, or enhancing your existing professional skills. Other options would be to get out of your comfort zone and to explore your city or trying out a new productivity technique.

3. Schedule more lunch meetings.

I’m a big fan of lunch meetings. I’ve found that there aren’t as many distractions and there’s more flexibility with time. Most importantly, it allows you to spend valuable one-on-one time with clients, prospects, and employees. Spending one on one time is particularly true if you want to build a relationship with a new networking contact.

Additionally, it’s the perfect excuse to get out of the office for a bit. And, if you pick up the check, there’s no better way to show your appreciation.

If lunch meetings aren’t always an option, then consider walking meetings. Or relocate a team meeting from the conference to a park. Doing so will spark creativity and help keep everyone in good spirits.

4. Volunteer.

Volunteering is another activity that we should do more often. It doesn’t just make the community better; it also gives you a chance to strengthen your skills and network. And it just makes you feel amazing.

Let’s say on Friday afternoons you and your team help build a community garden or teach a class for free. You could also mentor or coach aspiring entrepreneurs. Or, speaking of coaching, see if any local sports teams need coaches or someone to raise money for them.

5. Focus on your body.

Last winter, I neglected my health. I wasn’t exercising as much and eating like crap. Going into the new year, I wanted to focus on my body. Of course, that’s still a juggling act between all of my existing obligations and battling the elements.

While I’ve been able to follow through with this goal, I’m going to kick it up a notch. With a little more free time, and the desire to get outside as much as I can, this summer I’ll be focusing on eating healthier, exercising daily, and meditating. Using a calendar for scheduling will ensure I accomplish my goals. Eating right, exercising, and meditating will give me the energy and stamina to be more productive, while also reducing the amount of stress in my life.

6. Strengthen your leadership skills.

Being a founder doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a natural-born leader. A lot of entrepreneurs struggle with this day in and out. However, this is the perfect season to change that around.

During the summer, enhance your leadership skills. That sounds broad. So, I suggest getting some feedback from your team to see which areas you should focus on. For example, if you need to improve your communications skills, then seek out advice through books, podcasts, webinars, or Ted Talks. Record yourself during a meeting to see your performance — I did this and found that I spoke too quietly. Check out productivity hacks backed by science.

7. Re-organize your work environment.

You would be surprised at all of the stuff you accumulate over time. If left unchecked, this can create a cluttered and disorganized environment that is blocking you from being productive. So, send your spare time tossing out items you no longer need and organizing your files. And, don’t forget to clean out your inbox as well.

After you’ve cleaned and organized your workspace, you might want to re-organize it as well ultimately. You may find that the new layout is more functional. And, sometimes changing things gets those creative juices flowing.

8. Attend industry events.

I can’t tell you how many events I’ve not attended because I’ve been so swamped. But, if you have some free time this summer, then that’s when you should attend as many events as possible.

Not only will this get you out of the workplace, but it’s also a chance for you to learn new information or become aware of the latest trends. There’s also plenty of networking opportunities as well.

9. Spend more time getting to know your team.

How many times has an employee asked if you have five minutes to chat, and you respond that you’re “too busy?” That excuse doesn’t fly right now. And, whether you realize it or not, getting to know each other will be beneficial for everyone.

When you get to know your team, you’ll be able to motivate them better and inspire them since you’ve built a relationship. Also, it shows your team that you have a genuine interest in your employees. As such, they’ll be more engaged and loyal to you and the business.

10. Tackle your deferred project list.

I think we all a list of items that we’ll get around to eventually. Even if they’re important, we tend to forget about our listings when they’re not urgent. Take the time to reconsider your lists and deferred projects. Update all account information and get price comparisons done on insurance providers. In other words, get all the smaller projects out of the way that have been bugging you

If you don’t cross these items off now, then when? And, if this list continues to grow, then it will become too overwhelming to address. Go ahead and set some time aside to get these tasks done and over with finally.

11. Think about your future goals.

“Unhook from the minute-to-minute, day-to-day franticness and give yourself some space,” David Allen, author of the popular book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, told Forbes. “Lift your head up and look at the longer horizon. What would you like to have accomplished? What do you want your life to look like a year from now or even five years from now?”

Since the office is quieter and you aren’t as busy, you can finally answer those questions. And, you can start making plans on how you will achieve them.

12. Take a vacation.

Finally, don’t forget to have some fun this summer. And, for most of us, that means getting out of Dodge and going on a vacation.

Everyone, including entrepreneurs, need to step away from work occasionally. It will clear your head, alleviate all of that stress, and help you develop fresh ideas. Along the way, you may also learn and partake in new experiences. It also allows you to spend quality time with friends or family.

If you can’t go on an exotic vacation, then plan a weekend getaway that’s within driving distance. And, there’s always the staycation where you stay home but unplug for a couple of days. Whatever you do, take the time to enjoy yourself this summer so you can come back refreshed.

How to Motivate Yourself to Finish Big Tasks

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How to Motivate Yourself to Finish Big Tasks

Is your to-do list so long it’s running off the table and down the hall? Having a to-do list and a schedule for tasks can be helpful, so long as you’re doing the work.

Often, we let our to-do list pile up as we procrastinate on certain things. Usually, it’s the toughest, big tasks that get passed over as we take care of the smaller easier things first.

The problem is that when it comes to working, those significant and sometimes mentally challenging can have a considerable effect on your business and lead you to make substantial progress. While being your own boss means you have individual freedoms and flexibility, it also means that you have to buckle down and motivate yourself to finish big tasks.

This can seem overwhelming at first, so consider using these tips to help you get started.

Set a Deadline

Deadlines can be extremely useful when trying to motivate yourself to finish big tasks. If you thrive on deadlines, you’ll feel motivated to get your assignment or project completed by the assigned time. It’s no longer good enough to have tasks on your list.

You need to fill in your calendar with projects and responsibilities by assigning a deadline. Even if you don’t thrive on deadlines, setting one will put some pressure on you to get it done.

Also, be sure to prioritize the deadlines you give yourself as a commitment. Too often, we don’t value the commitments we make to ourselves. Promising to do something for your business is just as important as a commitment that you make to someone else.

View your deadline as firm and just get started even if you don’t have much motivation. It will come.

Break It Up

If a task or project seems too big or overwhelming, break it up so you can complete it over time. This is what I do with very time-consuming projects. For months, I had told myself I was going to work on a project, but I just never got around to it.

I realized I was unintentionally dodging the work because it knew it would be time-consuming and I didn’t think I had the time. After deciding to break the task up, I was able to get it completed in a single weekend.

Start by determining how long it will take you to do the task. Then, break it up into chunks and fill in your calendar. For example, if you think something will take you five hours, break it up into three-time chunks on three separate days and get it done.

Who knows, you may even be able to complete the task quicker than anticipated.

Choose a Reward

Adults can still thrive with a rewards system. You probably had one at your last job, and you may even have one in your business today. In one of my previous jobs, we could earn bonuses if we accomplished certain things.

To motivate yourself to finish big tasks, choose a reward that you’ll obtain once you finish. It always doesn’t have to be a monetary reward.

You can reward yourself by taking an afternoon or morning off. Or, you can treat yourself to a nice meal or catch up with an old friend. When I was setting weight-loss goals for myself, I decided to reward myself with a professional massage when I hit a particular milestone.

Rewards give us something to look forward to once we put in the effort and hard work.

Change Up Your Environment

Sometimes, switching up where and how you can be exciting and motivating. If you usually are working from a desk at home, head to a coffee shop for a few hours, or an outdoor patio.

Surround yourself with other people who are working hard and are motivated. Motivation will rub off on you. I started going to a coworking space, and even though I don’t know most of the people in the office yet, the change of scenery helps me eliminate distractions and stay motivated.

Plus, since I work from home most of the time, I feel I do get too comfortable with my work setting and procrastinate on specific tasks. Working outside of the house for even a few days can help you motivate yourself to finish a big job and move on to the next thing.

Just Get Started

This is one of the simplest ways to jumpstart your motivation. Sometimes, we let our thoughts and mindset psyche use out of working on a project. Maybe we think it’s too hard, too boring, or will take too long.

In reality, those are just thoughts, and you never know until you get started and try. Commit to starting a task and working on it for at least 20-30 minutes. Stay focused during this time and ignore all distractions.

When time is up, you’ll likely have more focus on the project and be willing to continue working on it. Even if you aren’t, you’ll have made progress during the 20-30 minute time streak.

The thing is, once you get started, it’s not too hard to keep going and finish up. You’ll often transition to a state of intense focus, and even if it’s not for long, you’ll get closer to finishing the big project nonetheless. Also, if getting started means doing 10-15 minutes of research and outlining, it’s better than nothing and will push you forward in the right direction.

Productive Things to do During Downtime

By | Time Management | No Comments
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 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.


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.


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.
Originally published here.
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