All posts by Max Palmer

What Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower Can Teach You About Time Management

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What Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower Can Teach You About Time Management

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States of America. He was elected in 1953 and was elected for a second term in 1956. He would serve as President until 1961. He accomplished a number of things during his presidency, including the Federal Highway Act of 1956 and effectively ending the Korean War.

It’s worth noting that one of Eisenhower’s longest-lasting accomplishments didn’t come from his presidency, although it did influence his service. As a general in the US Army and in other military leadership positions, Eisenhower developed a system that helped him to prioritize his daily task list. This effective prioritization made him a better leader for both the military and his country.

The Urgent-Important Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix, will help you prioritize your task list and increase your daily efficiency and productivity. Let’s break down how it works and how you can implement it in your own life:

Learn the Quadrants

The Eisenhower Matrix works by dividing tasks into four quadrants. The rows and columns help you determine which tasks should go where. The columns represent urgent and non-urgent tasks, while the accompanying rows indicate important and non-important tasks. Combined together, you get these unique quadrants:

Quadrant 1: Do

The first quadrant contains all of your most important tasks for the day. This is the cross-section between urgent and important, so naturally, this is where your attention will primarily be focused. Next, this is the ‘do’ quadrant, meaning these tasks must be done as soon as possible.

Your previously designated deadlines will go here, especially the ones that don’t have any flexibility. That will include meetings with clients, scheduled flights, or fixed editorial deadlines. Tasks of this nature will get your attention first thing every morning.

Unplanned tasks can often creep their way into this quadrant, and you must be ready for them. For example, if your entire office loses internet, you’ll have to make room for this emergency in your schedule by shifting your priorities on the fly.

Quadrant 2: Decide

Some people will confuse important tasks with urgent ones. This second quadrant will help you keep the two apart. While these tasks are certainly important to you, they can be scheduled in their own due time instead of being forced into available spaces in your Calendar.

For example, maintaining your physical health is important, but it might not have the same urgency as a project deadline with a set due date. So take the time here to add times to go to the gym into your Calendar. This will help you ensure that you’re making time for your physical health without letting it become a stressful endeavor.

You can use this quadrant to schedule more intentional time with your family, time to pursue a personal hobby, or even read a leisurely book to unwind in the afternoons.

Quadrant 3: Delegate

Some tasks are urgent but not quite as important as those tasks that fill up quadrant number one. These are the tasks that you should delegate if possible to someone else. For those in a leadership capacity, this is a particularly important quadrant to focus on. Many leaders can get so wrapped up in the details that they spend too much time cramming quadrant one when they could be pushing some tasks off into quadrant three.

Just think about the types of assignments you would pass on to an assistant or a department lead. For example, scheduling appointments in your Calendar might be urgent, but won’t be as important as the meeting you’re on your way to attend. The responsibility of scheduling can be delegated to a secretary instead.

Quadrant 4: Disregard

Here lies the final quadrant of the Eisenhower Matrix. These tasks are neither urgent nor important and, as such, should be forgotten. Some will call this the ‘don’t do’ section or even the ‘delete’ section, as you have three other quadrants of far more important tasks to worry about first.

Some of these tasks won’t even make it onto your Calendar, such as scrolling through social media or taking a nap. These tasks just aren’t important or urgent in the grand scheme of things, even if they can be enticing. Part of why the Eisenhower Matrix works so well is that it shifts your attention away from these distractions to more productive projects.

Get Started With Your Matrix

Everyone will have a different matrix depending on their occupation, seniority, and choosing to prioritize their own tasks. However, here are a few steps you can take to get started:

List Out Your Tasks

Kick things off by listing every single task you hope to accomplish in the coming days. List out important deadlines, goals, and appointments. Feel free to add even the smallest items to this list, as you’re going to be sifting through it later.

As you’re getting used to using a matrix to prioritize your task list, don’t worry about which quadrants everything belongs in just yet. Instead, focus first on making sure you have all of your tasks laid out in front of you so you can determine how to organize it all.

Start at the Top

Now that you have your to-do list straightened out, it’s time to draw out your Eisenhower Matrix. You can draw one in a notebook or use an online program such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to do this. Your matrix will consist of four squares forming a larger square together.

Quadrant one, the ‘Do’ quadrant, will be positioned in the top left corner. Quadrant two will sit directly to the right, with quadrant three positioned directly below. The fourth and final quadrant will take up the remaining spot in the bottom right corner.

Once you’ve finished the simple drawing, start filling each quadrant with the tasks that fit. Start with the urgent and important tasks first, and slowly work your way down through all the quadrants. As you get more familiar with how the matrix works, you’ll better organize your tasks in such a manner.

Keep it With You

The Eisenhower Matrix isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it model unless you have an impeccable memory. As you’re getting started, keep your matrix with you so you can refer to it throughout the day. This can be easily done if you’re tracking it online and can access your matrix from any electronic device.

This is an important step since there will be times when your matrix might need to be adjusted, as was mentioned previously in the case of an unplanned crisis. Additionally, referring to your matrix often helps ensure that you’re adhering to the parameters you set for each task.

Now that you have a feel for how the Eisenhower Matrix is constructed, it’s time to put it to work. Give it a test run during the next week to get a feel for how prioritization changes your approach to work and affects your productivity.

How to Get Just as Much Done this Month With Only 28 Days

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How to Get Just as Much Done this Month With Only 28 Days

February is the shortest month of the year. 28 short days mark the end of the winter season. This month is marked by Valentine’s Day, and the Super Bowl. Sorry, this year is not a leap year — so NO 29th day this year.

Even though it’s only missing a few days, February can feel painfully short. Trying to maintain productivity and reach your monthly goals will be much more challenging. However, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to regardless of time restraints if you leverage your online calendar. Getting just as much done in a shorter month only requires some time management:

Calendar Your Goals

Take your New Year’s resolution, monthly goals, or February aspirations and start adding them to your Calendar. Break them down into actionable steps, perhaps by a week or even by the day, to really visualize what you have to do in only 28 days. You’ll have a productivity map from start to finish that shows you just how much you need to accomplish.

Take a fitness goal, for example. If your goal is to run 100 miles each month, you’re going to have to add in some longer runs during the month of February. As you bundle up for some chilly morning jogs, you can take comfort knowing you’ve planned ahead and won’t need to participate in a marathon on February 28th to meet your quota.

Wake Up Early

Waking up even a few minutes earlier than usual will open up so much more time in your day. This won’t be easy if you’re a night owl, but the productivity boost you’ll see will be worth the sacrifice. You could opt for a late-night, but after a long day of work, your productivity is bound to take a hit once the sun goes down.

Use your Calendar to craft the ideal morning routine. Start by pushing your alarm back, as horrible as that may be to do the night before. Then, fill your morning schedule with activities that will get you going as soon as your feet hit the floor. Try 15 minutes of stretching and a timed shower, so you don’t doze off and end up wasting the morning hours you so carefully squared away.

Pack in Your Weekend

While the weekend is a great time to get some needed rest before returning to work on Monday, it’s also your best chance at fitting in with everything else you hope to do this month. Even a few hours on Saturday and Sunday will significantly escalate what you’re able to accomplish in a short month.

Open up your online calendar for February and look at their weekends. Are they barren of any activities? Look for ways to fill them. You might notice that your evenings are overflowing with plans that you can push back to the weekend, allow you to focus on things one at a time, or squeeze in an extra task to help reach your monthly goal.

Stay Focused

It takes an average of 23 minutes to regain focus after you’ve been distracted. That’s a lot of wasted time that quickly adds up if you find yourself distracted frequently. To truly make the most out of each and every day, you’ll have to figure out how to keep distractions to a minimum.

Start by eliminating obvious distractions from the surrounding area. Keeping your cell phone on silent and face down is a great start, as smartphones are perhaps the number one distraction in the world today. Take note of any music or images that distract you as well so they can be removed.

If you still find yourself flipping tabs to social media or losing concentration over the course of the day, try a time management technique to help hone your focus. For example, try this guide on the Pomodoro method. It’ll insert scheduled break times into your online calendar to give you hyperfocus in short bursts.

Learn to Say No

It’ll be challenging, but you may have to say no to a few situations to ensure you have the time you need to meet your goals. Instead of going out for drinks on Friday night, finish up some tasks for your startup or finish the house project you’re determined to get done by Spring.

Of course, you don’t have to say no to everything, but be aware of your limits. Achieving maximum productivity requires some self-mastery. Your friends will understand if you need to take a bow a few weekends in order to tend to your business, home, or career while on a time crunch.

Do as Much as You Can in Advance

Procrastination gets the best of everyone. Unfortunately, even a tiny mistake in time management can cost you big time. By planning things in advance, you can hedge yourself against procrastination, laziness, and fatigue slowing you down.

One example can be found in meal planning. Say you work from home and want to take a lunch break. If you don’t have anything prepared, you’ll spend valuable time preparing something or running to a less than healthy fast food restaurant. If you used your weekend to prepare meals for the week, you wouldn’t have to sacrifice as much time and would be able to focus on your work.

These time management tips and tricks will help you year-round, not just during the shortest month of the year. Keep that Calendar handy, and be proactive with how you use your time, and you’ll never fall short of what you hope to accomplish.

Tension In The Office? Here’s How to Promote Harmony In the Workplace

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Tension in the office can poison a company from within. For starters, your customers and clients will feel the tension when visiting or calling, and the strife might even start to  unsettle the rest of your team. You might think that such internal issues will remain private, but in today’s uber-connected world – it just won’t. In fact, websites like GlassDoor specialize in unearthing and publicizing these internal company problems. To attack this poisonous problem at the root, here’s what you need to do.

1. Recruit Well

Ever heard the term, ‘prevention is better than cure’? Ensuring that you employ agreeable and socially positive people is the absolute best way to ward off tension in the workplace. So, before taking any other step, get the ball rolling on improving your recruitment process.

2. Set Ground Rules to Stop Tension In The Office

Next up, your employees – both new and existing – should be made aware of the ground rules in the workplace. If you don’t have any rules, you need to make some. Without boundaries, you’re giving your employees the freedom to annoy the patience out of everybody else in the office with their bad habits and traits. Most of the time, those annoying employees won’t even realize their mistakes – until it’s too late.

3. Encourage Communication

A breakdown in communication is usually the cause of conflict in any relationship, including a professional one. Company intranets are a good way to encourage communication, although you should also consider opening up anonymous avenues of communication between you and your employees in order to make it easier for them to voice their suggestions and concerns.

4. Organize Outings

Team bonding sessions and retreats are a great way to foster positive relationships within your workforce. It could be something simple like a paintballing session, or you could go all out and book a weekend retreat. However, if tensions are already high, I’d recommend steering clear of activities that require your team to travel and sleep in close proximity.

5. Take Charge

If your employees struggle to respect each other, the least they can do is get along out of respect for their boss. Be sure to exercise your leadership skills in order to handle disputes and dish out verdicts. Hopefully, your authoritative presence will overpower the guile your employees have for in-fighting.

6. Don’t Have Favourites

Some employees will impress you more than others, which is natural. But if you start playing favourites publicly (or even privately), you’re bound to stir up trouble. Jealousy might set in among other workers, or accusations of unfair treatment may be made. And this time, it will be your fault. Instead, play it safe and treat everybody the same – and yes, that goes for family, too.

7. Accept That Not Everybody Gets Along

As serious as office tension can be, sometimes, nobody is to blame. The fact of the matter is, two perfectly good employees may simply dislike each other, and that’s okay. The solution is to recognize that even employees are human, and so it’s your job to separate them from each other as much as possible. If the two employees are team players, they’ll make it work. If not, this next tip is for you.

8. Eliminate Disengaged Employees

Yes, you read that correctly. Firstly, take steps to hear them out and provide solutions to their problems. An engaged employee will welcome your attempt to bring about a conclusion – whereas a disengaged employee will resist it. And make no mistake; a disengaged employee is toxic to your brand. With that in mind, if this approach fails, it’s high time they packed up their stuff. No employee is bigger than the company, and if they’re determined to cause trouble, you simply can’t afford to keep them.

Build Company Culture

The long term solution to tension in the workplace is to build a company culture that employees want to be a part of. You should be actively injecting personality into your brand from the inside by firstly following the tips above, and also by making your office an enjoyable place to work. As the boss, the responsibility of creating that company culture rests with you. How do you ward off negativity in the workplace? Let us know about your process in the comments section below!


Originally published here.

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