Category Archives: Business Tips

How to Balance a Job Search Plus Your Freelance Work

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Job Search

Job hunting can be a long and tedious process that can be difficult to find time for on your Calendar. Especially if you want to land a job that compensates you well, provides a schedule you can live with, and allows you to enjoy your job. It can be challenging to find a job that combines most of the things you want in any situation. If you are working at a full-time job or already doing freelance work, you will need to balance a job search plus freelance work.

As a freelancer with all the other demands on your time, it can be even more difficult to find a day job that meets your requirements. If you struggle to find time to job hunt while freelancing, try some strategy listed below to find space on your Calendar. Of course, it is easier said than done — but it’s definitely possible.

How to find time for job hunting while freelancing.

A job hunt can be difficult under any circumstance, but it can make it even more difficult when you add freelancing into the mix. It can be a struggle to find time to hunt for jobs, let alone find time actually to land a job. Instead of continuing to struggle, take action to find the time in your Calendar.

Find your reason.

Before you start applying for jobs, decide why you are applying. The simple answer is usually money but try to look beyond that. Think about your career hopes and your plans for the future.

A few reasons to start job hunting include:

  • Bored or tired at the current job. Sometimes you outgrow your job; you’ll know when it’s time to move on.
  • Location. You do not have to live in a particular place if you don’t want to. Maybe you want a change of scene or have a specific person to move closer to. Either way, where you live your life is a huge decision, and if you want to make a change, then you should.
  • Money. If you feel under-compensated at your current job, then you may want to start looking for a new job.

Apply to jobs that fit into your general plan. Of course, be open to new opportunities but avoid things you already know will make you unhappy.

Decide what you are looking for.

A job hunt is not just for any position that will hire you; the position should also be something that meets your requirements. Before you start job hunting, decide what you are really searching for. Although every circumstance is different, you likely have a set of requirements for your future job. The more carefully you think about what you what, the less likely you will have to repeat the process in the near future.

Some things to think about include:

  • Time commitment. You may be looking for a full-time job that will take up the majority of your time. Alternatively, maybe you hope to transition into a part-time role that will allow you to focus more on your own business. Whatever your needs, remain realistic about the amount of time you are willing to commit to your future role.
  • Compensation. All jobs will compensate you somehow, but you need to make sure that you are being compensated in a fair way to you. Otherwise, you may be unhappy in your new job before you even start. Think carefully about what compensation you would need from a job for it to be worthwhile. Don’t just think about financial compensation; consider healthcare, retirement, and other benefits that some companies offer. Be realistic and fair about this thought process based on your skills and the financial responsibilities you have.
  • Environment. A job could be housed inside a corporate cubicle, in a comfortable, well-lit office, remote from your home office, on a factory floor, in a warehouse, or even outside. During job interviews, make sure to ask questions about the work environment. Try to stick to work environments that would make you comfortable.

Determine how quickly you want to land this new job.

Depending on your situation, you may be open to a longer job search than a short one. If you are in immediate need of a job, you will need to ramp up your job search efforts to full strength immediately. However, if you are just hoping to transition into a new job in the next couple of months, then you may not have to devote as much time every week. Be honest with yourself about how quickly you want this new job.

Take a hard look at your Calendar.

Now for the hard part, take a close look at what you already have on your Calendar. If you are a freelancer, you likely have several meetings and deadlines on top of your day job’s workload.

Sometimes it can be exhausting to keep up with the freelancing without adding another responsibility to your plate. Think about how much time you currently have to commit to a job search with your current freelancing commitments. The answer might be that you do not have a lot of spare time, so you will need to get creative.

You may consider holding off on any new freelance commitments if your time is limited. However, that may not be an option for you. In that case, you will need to power through the job search. It can be a busy and challenging time but remember that it will come to a close when you land the right job.

If possible, set aside time each day to work on your job search. Even if you only have a few minutes to check the job boards, make use of that time.

Create a list of jobs that you intend to apply to. When you have more than a few minutes available in your schedule, take the time to apply. The key is to only apply to jobs that you would be happy with and have at least most of the qualifications.

Take advantage of all spare time in your Calendar. You may need to add additional time to your day to job hunt effectively, which may mean giving up some of the fun things on your Calendar for some time. Utilize the weekends to spread out your job hunting activities as a way to make the process less overwhelming, but most of all, take care of your well-being.

Create a killer application package.

An excellent way to maximize your time is to focus on creating a killer application. Before your job hunt is in full swing, the first thing you need to make time for is building a fantastic resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter sample.

As you apply to jobs, the premade package can be tweaked when appropriate. Instead of creating an entirely new resume, and cover letter for each job, tweak small things to make your application stand out.  It is more time-efficient than taking the time to create an application package from scratch for every single job.

Start applying.

Whenever you have time available, make that job hunting time. Find the small spaces of free time between other things to look for jobs and apply. You may want to set a goal of a certain number of submitted applications per day or week. Staying on a submissions schedule will help you stay on track with your job hunt even if you are crunched for time between freelancing and a traditional job.

Good luck.

Job hunting can be time-consuming and exhausting, but you will land the right job at some point. Just keep looking for the right opportunities and making the timing to apply on your Calendar. At the end of the hunt, you will be thankful that you put in the time to land your excellent new job.

How to Balance a Job Search Plus Your Freelance Work was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

7 Reasons Reminders Are Crucial Before Meetings

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The Right Appointment Reminders Will Get Your Customers Through the Door

Every time I book a trip, I receive a useful reminder, like when my flight departs or when to check in. Since I’m a planner, I already have this information down pat. It’s still nice to ensure everything’s in order. There have been times when life has gotten in the way. An appointment, event, essential to-do item has slipped my mind. It’s times like these when I appreciate these automated reminders. Without them, I would have dropped the ball. Most importantly, reminders are crucial before meetings.

Reminders aren’t just for appointments, tasks, or travel. Reminders are crucial before meetings because of the following 7 reasons.

1. Reduces no-shows, last minute cancellations, and waiting lists.

How many times have you forgotten all about a meeting? Maybe you misplaced an appointment card. Perhaps you didn’t review your calendar the night before. Many other things are going on in your life, and you straight-up forgot all about the meeting.

As a human, this is bound to happen. The result is that either you run late to the meeting or don’t show up at all. Both are unfair to the other person or attendees. They’ve taken the time to prepare and arrive on time for the meeting. If you couldn’t make it, they could have spent their time on something else instead of wasting waiting on you. This action is disrespectful and displays a lack of professionalism. But, a simple reminder could have prevented your goof-up.

Whether you’re using appointment scheduling software or an online calendar, you can modify when and how you receive reminders. For example, you could receive an email 24-hours in advance so that you won’t forget the meeting in the morning. Or, you could be sent a push notification an hour prior to your event reminding you that it’s time to leave for the meeting.

While this won’t impact all businesses, as an additional perk, this can reduce waiting lists. Let’s say that a client canceled the appointment the day before after receiving an automated reminder. You could notify the clients on your waiting list that there’s an open appointment slot. It’s an effective way to keep your customers and clients satisfied because you’re offering them faster service.

2. Gives everyone the time to plan ahead.

Another reason why reminders are crucial is that it gives everyone ample time to prepare. Think back to your days in college. There’s no way that you just rolled out of bed and went to your exam. You had that date circled on your calendar and studied relentlessly to prevent any surprises.

The same is true of meetings.

Everyone should not only be aware of the date, time, and location, but also have an agenda. The agenda will let participants know exactly what’s going to be discussed and what work needs to be done in advance. Knowing this allows everyone to develop any questions or concerns before the meeting gets underway.

Also, it informs invitees what materials to bring, such as performance reports or legal documents, as well as what tech to prep. You want to make sure that your slide presentation is working. And, if it’s a remote meeting, you need the extra time to double check that the phone lines or video chat are running so that participants can join in.

3. Makes the meeting more productive.

When everyone shows up on time and knows what work had to be done, meetings are much more effective. That’s because the meeting starts and ends on time. And, it ensures that everyone isn’t wasting time preparing or getting tech up and running.

All of this information is handled when attendees received a reminder telling them when and where to arrive. What’s more, the reminder lets them know what to do ahead of time so that everyone can dive right into the meeting.

4. Improves office productivity.

Office productivity may not be an issue for all business owners. But, think about the time spent personally reaching out to meeting invitees. Whether if it’s you, an office administrator, or co-worker, automated reminders eliminate this tedious and time-consuming task.

You and your team can focus on other responsibilities. What does growing your business look like to you? Growing your business or finally getting around to cleaning out your inbox. Whatever you chose to do, you’re spending your time more productively instead of reminding people about an upcoming meeting.

5. Maximizes revenue and reduces waste.

The less time you or someone else is on the phone or emailing clients reminding them about a meeting means you have more time to spend elsewhere. You could use this time to strengthen your customer relations. Or, you could improve existing products or services and look for new ways to generate revenue.

In short, you’re improving your bottom line.

Additionally, reminders reduce waste in your business. If you know in advance that a client has to reschedule, then you’re not going to waste time preparing for the meeting with them. Considering that your time is your most valuable resource, this is key.

6. Allows you to track cancellations.

Thanks to automatic and SMS reminders, you can track how often a customer cancels, postpones, or reschedules. That may not sound groundbreaking. But, when you’re armed with this knowledge, you can stop doing business with unreliable people. More importantly, you can focus more on your most loyal and dependable peeps.

7. Reminders build stronger relationships with employees, customers, and clients.

If you want your business to thrive, then it’s a given that you need to have healthy relationships. These relationships include the lifeblood of your business, and you need your employees to be loyal and satisfied. But, how exactly do reminders achieve a better relationship?

Take, for instance, appointment reminder software like Weave. It lets you create unique and personalized messages. For example, you can add their first name, appointment time, and when it should be sent. Remember, customers are demanding a more personalized experience. When delivered, a personalized experience will increase customer retention, loyalty, and revenue.

7 Reasons Reminders Are Crucial Before Meetings was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

5 Ways to Make Your Webinars More Conversational

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Make Your Webinars More Conversational

When done correctly, webinars are a tired and true way to engage, inform, and generate quality leads for your organization. And, while there are plenty of resources available that can guide you in creating an effective webinar, most gloss over an important detail; your webinar needs to be conversational to make it an unforgettable and valuable experience for participants. You can make your webinars more conversational.

To make your webinars more conversational, start with the following five tips.

1. Use AI to establish audience connect.

Although it may seem like a recent development, artificial intelligence has been around since 1956. And, considering that AI will contribute $13 trillion to the global economy by 2030, there’s no denying this AI is here to stay. The reason? It’s completely changed the business world for the better — including webinars.

By tapping into the power of artificial intelligence, you can personalize the webinar experience from start to finish. For example, you can use AI to determine everything from which topic your audience wants to discuss, their preferred format, the speakers you should invite, the ideal date and time, and how long it should run. AI can also be used to reduce friction in the event awareness and registration process by orchestrating conversations via platforms like Drift.

More promising, AI allows you to get to know your audience in advance so that you can build some rapport with them personally, so that they feel comfortable asking questions or adding to the discussion. Let’s say that an attendee jumped on a couple of minutes before and you know that they live in Seattle. You could discuss the weather, the Mariners or Seahawks, or what your favorite restaurant is in the Emerald City.

This technology can also analyze your webinar once it’s concluded to provide information like when the audience was most engaged and which participants hung around until the end. It will then make smart suggestions on how to improve your next event, like who to invite and how much time should be allocated for the Q&A portion.

2. Kick things off with an icebreaker.

In a previous Drift article, Mark Kilens suggests that you begin the event a couple of minutes early. This way, you can“Break the ice, talk to the audience through the chat feature on your webinar platform.” You can also ask your audience where they’re calling from, what their favorite food is, or what they’re most interested in learning.

“One question should do the trick,” adds Kilens. And, don’t forget to, “Call people out by name and let them know you know they’re there.”

Sounds simple. But, this lets the person know that the webinar is going to be conversational. Kilens also recommends that you drive this point home by creating slides that say “Today’s Conversation.”

3. Tell a story.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good story? Whether if it were cave paintings, The Odyssey, or The Avengers: Endgame we’re just hardwired to react to stories. And, that’s because of how our brains respond to stories.

Unlike slides, stories activate the language processing parts in our brains and light up our sensory cortex. They can also “plant ideas, thoughts, and emotions into the listeners’ brains.” But how can you use that to make your webinar more conversational?

For starters, think of yourself as a storyteller and recall a personal experience at the beginning. It’s an effective way to hook attendees and emotionally connect with them. Next, identify a common problem that your audience has, think of this as the antagonist of your tale, and what the solution is. The answer is the product or service that flies in and saves the day. Finally, provide a clear call-to-action so that they can see how great the future is when the big bad has been defeated.

You probably learned that back in your high school English class. But, it works because we’re wired to think in terms of cause and effect. That’s why we’re continually creating narratives in our daily actions and conversations. It’s been found that “Personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.”

4. Don’t stick to the script.

You want to prepare for your webinar to make sure the audio is working and that the webinar will not exceed the time allocated. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t mix things up a bit.

For example, you could scrap the slides and script and host a discussion-style webinar or a full-blown Q&A. Doing so will keep the event less formal and more conversational while still providing valuable information to attendees.

If you want to stay on track, however, you should poll your audience or create a landing page where they can vote on what topics they want to be discussed. This way, you know exactly what they’re most interested in and can plan accordingly.

5. Keep the audience engaged.

I think we’ve all attended an online event where you put yourself on mute and focused on something else like email. The problem is that when your audience is disengaged, they’re not going to be a part of the conversation.

To avoid this, keep your audience engaged by:

  • Encouraging them to turn on their cameras so that you can if they’re not paying attention.
  • Breaking the content into easy-to-digest bite-sized pieces.
  • Planning for interaction, such as a Q&A at the end, and breaks.
  • Doing frequent check-ins to make sure everyone is still attentive.
  • Skipping the industry jargon and speaking plain English so that they can understand what you’re saying.
  • Adding a little humor and personality to help attendees relax.
  • Quizzing the audience several times throughout the webinar.

That’s by no means an extensive list. But, the list above is a great starting point for you to get your audience to be more alert and interactive during your webinar. And, as a result, they’ll be more likely to participate in the discussion.

5 Ways to Make Your Webinars More Conversational was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

How to Stay Productive When You Don’t Have WiFi

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Stay Productive

We’ve all had it happen. You plan for a busy day with all these items on your to-do list, and the WiFi goes out for most of the day. Or, you’re catching a flight and have plans to work on the plane, but the WiFi connection is spotty.

Whether you’re experiencing an outage at your main workspace or while traveling, it can make your schedule pretty hectic as you lose the risk of getting productive work time in.

With it currently being summer, my work schedule is all over the place as I stay busy with taking my son to camps and programs. I am often stuck without WiFi or have to rely on the local library or area coffee shops to stay connected. Luckily, I’ve become a pro at making it work and want to share with you some ways to stay productive when you don’t have WiFi.

Catch Up on Organization Tasks

You don’t need the internet to stay organized. You can still check your calendar when you’re offline and move things around. If you’re at home or your office space, catch up on some organizational tasks you’ve been putting off.

Sort through papers and file them correctly, clear off your workspace, and update your calendar. Also, take the time to work on some tasks that don’t require internet. I’ll share more ideas below. Taking the necessary time to get organized will help you keep track of what you have to do so you can work efficiently when you have internet access again.

Check and Respond to Emails on Your Phone

If you need to stay connected with others via email, you can likely do so on your phone. If you have Gmail, it’s easy to access messages and receive notifications. You may not be able to go through dozens of emails but choose the top 10 crucial messages and take care of them to stay productive when you don’t have WiFi.

You can also delete and sort through emails by filing them away in the appropriate folders. Keep in mind that this will require the use of your mobile data, but you can still make a lot of progress if you limit this task to just 30 minutes.

Write a Newsletter Draft From Scratch

You don’t need WiFi to share creative thoughts and ideas. If your small business publishes regular email newsletters, challenge yourself to create the content for a few when you don’t have WiFi.

Consider sharing company news, promoting the features or new products and services, or sharing tips or advice that will help your audience. Helping your audience can be easy to do when you know your audience and customers well.

A typical marketing email can include you taking a recent piece of content that you liked or didn’t like and share your opinion about it along with some helpful tips for others. Last year, I took a short email course about engaging with your audience, and it prompted me to focus on four different types of email strategies: motivational, kick in the pants, relatable advice, and practical solutions.

These are all email structures that you can draft copy for freehand without the use of WiFi.

Outline Some Content

Do you have upcoming blog posts, articles, or marketing copy to publish? While you may need the internet to perform some research and contact others, you can still outline and even start the content without it.

I find that outlining blog posts before writing them saves me a ton of time. Outlining can also help you stay productive when you don’t have WiFi because you don’t need actually to worry about writing the content yet. Still, when you do get started, the process will be much more efficient.

Sometimes I write articles without WiFi or at least get the draft or the introduction prepared for the piece — if I know the topic well. Keep in mind that an initial draft of a piece of content can be just that. You can always edit and reframe it once you get connected to the internet again but having a headstart is excellent.

Have an Impromptu Meeting

One day, the power went out at my job, but my boss didn’t want us to go home just yet. We had a ton of stuff to do, and he was able to get most people connected to the internet again via his mobile hot spot. Still, the connection was spotty, and we ended up having an excellent meeting until the power came back on

Sure, we all know that the best meetings and scheduled, planned for, and have a clear agenda. However, you can still have a pretty productive impromptu session as well. Keep a running list of meetings topics on your desk to start with.

You can even begin by having your team share a status update and ask questions that have been on their mind. From there, see if you can narrow down an issue that everyone can work to overcome by the end of the meeting. Whether there’s a plan in place from the start or not, ending a meeting with a practical solution to a significant problem or obstacle is always a success in my book.

Make a Phone Call

Catch up on calls to stay productive when you don’t have WiFi. Make all your business and personal requests for the day when WiFi isn’t available and remember you can always take notes by hand if needed.

Knocking out business calls can still be a great use of your time, especially if they are discovery calls, coaching calls, or even necessary inquiries to gather information. If you usually meet with someone over Skype or Zoom but don’t have internet access, ask if you can meet over the phone or virtually — when you don’t have WiFi so you can still get your meeting taken care of.

No Internet, No Problem

In today’s world of constant and often instant connection to the web, it may seem nearly impossible to get anything productive done in your business when you don’t have WiFi. On the contrary, being able to stay productive when you don’t have WiFi is all about getting creative, tying up loose ends, and optimizing what you do have.

You may not get the same amount of work done, but you can still keep busy and make some progress during the day, which is better than nothing.

How to Stay Productive When You Don’t Have WiFi was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

How to Make Sure Your Personal Life Doesn’t Negatively Affect Your Business

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Let’s be real. Sometimes, your personal life can wreak havoc on your business. As much as we try to keep personal and business separate, we’re human. The problem is when the issues in our personal lives affect our productivity. In recent weeks, I’ve engaged in multiple conversations with business owners who have all been dealing with things in their personal lives. No one makes it public, of course. However, when they are in circles with other business owners they trust, all the personal life dramas are shared. I’ve also had my fair share of drama in my personal life in recent months. As such, I’ve learned several strategies for not allowing it to affect my business. Here are some of the strategies I find work best.

Always prioritize savings.

As a business owner, the amount of money you make can be directly correlated to your output. Sometimes, things in our personal lives do require more of our attention and it causes us to take a temporary step back. That’s why it’s always good to have savings in the bank. For example, a couple of years ago I had to take a step back from my business to help my family with some things. Because I had savings, I was able to do it without any issue.

Give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions.

Making sure your personal life doesn’t affect your business doesn’t mean ignoring things. This can actually escalate conflict and make everything worse.  It simply means managing them. For example, if you’re going through an emotional period in your personal life, give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions. Christine Hassler, a life coach for millennials, suggests giving yourself a few minutes each day to really feel your emotions. This way, you’re not ignoring them, but you’re also not letting them affect your business.

Be careful who you surround yourself with.

Sometimes, issues in your personal life can be traced back to those you surround yourself with. While you may be careful who you surround yourself with your business, perhaps this is a lesson you’re still learning in your personal life. I know I definitely am. If you notice that drama always seems to surround one or two people, then it’s time to cut them out. The last thing you need as a business owner is to always be involved in some mess because of the company you keep. Keeping your personal life out of your business becomes impossible when the people in your life consistently drag you down. Toxic people can easily overrun your life with their energy, which is why they need to go if you plan on running a successful business. Bottom line is if you don’t want your personal life ruining your business, then you need to take the preventative measure of making sure unnecessary drama won’t be caused.
Originally published here.

25 Ways to Make Your Meetings Less Productive

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Meetings Less Productive

Unfortunately, we have all sat through meetings that did not accomplish anything. Many of us probably have one or two of these time-wasting meetings on our Calendar. At present, many of our calendars are filled with unproductive meetings, and here are 25 ways to make your meetings less productive.

We know the low productivity meeting is coming, and many are not sure how to stop that big ball rolling down upon you in the meeting “cave.” Typically these unproductive meetings have many participants and few outlined objectives. Here is a look at the ways that you can potentially make your meeting less productive. Now, all you need to do is the opposite. You can always Implement the “good” strategies appropriate for your workgroup.

1. Forget to set an agenda.

It is easy to assume that everyone knows what is supposed to be happening at the meeting. That is usually an untrue assumption that leads to all around confusion. It is always a good idea to set up an agenda and send it out to the participants before the meeting. An early agenda warning gives everyone a chance to come prepared. If no one is sure what the meeting will cover, then they will be less likely to be aware of the current status of agenda items.

2. Don’t bother taking notes.

Although we wish that we could remember everything talked about during a meeting, that is just typically not possible. It is a good idea to designate a note taker before each meeting starts. The note-taker should send out their summary of the meeting to the participants soon after it ends. New AI-enabled calendars will record your meeting and send out the actions needed for the meeting — plus your notes. Everything recorded and noted will make subsequent meetings more productive because everyone should be on the same page.

3. Start late.

This one is obvious. If you start late, then you set a lousy precedent for all meetings. Bad starts are never a good thing, especially when it comes to meetings. Start on time – end on time. Period.

4. Don’t create a time frame.

When you are creating the agenda, you should set up time frames for each topic. Of course, there is some room for adjustment during the meeting. However, these time frames allow people to see approximately how much time each subject will take. It is especially important to let any presenters know what their time limit is. Otherwise, someone could take over the entire meeting with their presentation slides.

5. Invite Everyone.

Instead of inviting the entire office or team, just invite critical team members. Anyone that does not have a direct in the meeting or project is just someone that does not need to be there. It is possible they will take valuable time and resources away from the meeting.

6. Disregard introductions.

If anyone in the room is new or unfamiliar with the project, then it is a good idea to break the ice. Of course, it can be as simple as introducing everyone, especially if prospects are present.

7. Overdo the icebreaker.

Do not spend too much time on icebreakers because it can potentially cut into your actual meeting time. One time I went to a meeting with a three-hour icebreaker. What a time-suck. It ended up running into the rest of the meeting and forcing us all to stay late. Keep an icebreaker to a couple of minutes and very, very simple.

8. Skip breaks.

Although breaks are not strictly productive, it is important to give everyone a chance to breathe. Even if it is just a five-minute coffee break, it will help. Typically people come back refreshed and ready to dive back in following a break.

9. Forget the snacks.

If you are planning to host a long meeting, then you should provide some light snacks and beverages. No one can think on an empty stomach.

10. Invite distractions.

Everyone is accustomed to having their phones and laptops at the ready. It is too tempting to get distracted by the internet instead of focusing on the meeting.

11. Don’t address action items.

It is essential to create action items. It is also important to follow through. Do not just write them down, actually address these and quickly run through them. Your AI-enabled notes and assignments will take care of the rest.

12. Ignore deadlines.

Just like action items, you need to keep all deadlines in mind and be precise. Set deadlines for team members and follow up during meetings.

13. Start the conversation.

Although the leader of the meeting may need to say a few words, it is a good idea to open the floor to the group. Opportunities to address issues and concerns that you may not have been aware of are crucial to stay connected to your team.

14. Stay too formal.

Formal meeting settings have their place. However, it is usually a good idea to invite discussion from the team and build on the ideas presented by team members. Most of the meeting can be formal but allow for a little discussion time or round robin that will include team members and their opinions.

15. Get sidetracked.

Try to avoid going down any rabbit holes. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed at a different time, then make that an agenda item for the next meeting.

16. Create long sessions.

No one wants to sit through a six-hour meeting. It may be required for certain situations, but attempt to keep the meetings as short as possible.

17. Throw out the agenda.

You can adjust the agenda if needed, but it should only be as a last resort. If at all possible stick to the agenda and work through the items on that list.

18. Squeeze in everything on your to-do list.

Typically you cannot squeeze an entire project into one meeting. You can (and should) spread of the process across multiple shorter meetings.

19. Have meetings for no reason.

Sometimes we can get into the habit of having a meeting scheduled every week or every other week. Although this is a good way to keep the time open on your Calendar, sometimes these meetings are not necessary. Make sure that your scheduled meetings have meaningful and productive goals before you get started.

20. Keep the spotlight on a few people.

Some projects will have a few key players that present at every meeting. However, you should make an effort to involve everyone. It will help to keep everyone interested and engaged in the meeting.

21. Ignore the next steps.

After every meeting, the participants usually come away with tasks or action items to focus on. Make sure that everyone is clear about the next steps before they leave the meeting.

22. Figure out the technology at the last second.

Many of us use virtual meeting systems. It is excellent to involve long-distance team members. However, you should test out the technology before the meeting starts. Technical errors are a great way to harpoon the productivity of your meeting before you even get started.

23. Set it for lunchtime.

No one wants to sit through a meeting on their regular lunch hour. Everyone is hungry and just not interested in the meeting.

24. Leave no room for error.

In your agenda, you should schedule some buffers into the time frame. People talk and get off track; this built-in time will ensure that it does not affect the productivity of the meeting too much.

25. Have hours of PowerPoints — sometimes — but rarely.

PowerPoint is an excellent tool for some presentations. However, not every meeting needs hundreds of slides. It is an easy way for your audience to start tuning you out as you flip through your presentation.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you can avoid these productivity zapping activities in your next meeting.

25 Ways to Make Your Meetings Less Productive was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

15 Productivity Hacks to Get More Done Each Day

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productivity hacks

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

1. Become a time management ninja using your Calendar.

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

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

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

2. Stick to a “work uniform.”

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

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

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

3. The Pomodoro Technique

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

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

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

4. Keep one-day a week meeting free.

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

5. Group “like” jobs.

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

6. Follow the two-minute rule.

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

7. Limit your phone usage.

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

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

8. Listen to music.

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

9. Use a bullet journal.

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

10. Set macro goals and micro quotas.

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

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

11. Chew more gum.

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

12. Use red and blue.

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

13. Procrastinate productively.

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

14. Find your “golden hours.”

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

15. Just be you.

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

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

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

4 Ways You Can Improve Teamwork

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

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

Establish a clear team mission.

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

Create a reporting infrastructure.

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

Make the right hires.

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

Build relationships outside of the workplace.

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

5 Rules for Using Shared Work Space

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

1. Work Quietly

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

2. Clean Up After Yourself

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

3. Stay within Your Own Space

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

4. Bring Your Own Supplies

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

5. Practice Good Hygiene

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