Category Archives: Scheduling

Can Getting Up From Your Desk Increase Your Productivity?

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Your boss wants you to stay put and work long periods at your desk so you can get more done. But the health experts, such as Harvard Health Publishing, say you need to get up and move more. Certainly sitting for long periods can cause you to become lethargic and slower as you work throughout the day. On the other hand, the worker who constantly pops up out of the chair to get a drink, use the restroom, or ask a question isn’t going to get much done. But, what is the happy medium? Should you slave away to the point of chaining yourself to your desk? Or, should you take an occasional break and risk getting less done as well as having an unhappy supervisor? Working until you drop is not only bad for your health it isn’t going to do your employer any good either if it makes you too tired or sick to work. However, taking a break means you aren’t working. Can getting up from your desk increase your productivity?

Improves Focus

The first way getting up from your desk increases your productivity is by improving your focus. Simply the act of getting out of your chair for 5 minutes after 60 to 90 minutes of sitting can reduce restlessness. Moving around or taking a quick bathroom break can get your blood pumping a little, improve circulation, increase oxygen, and lift your mood. All of these benefits wake you up and help you fight fatigue. In addition, moving around every hour or so lets you refocus on the job at hand with renewed energy once you get back to it.

Helps You Solve Problems

Occasionally as you are working you will run into a snag that prevents you from finishing a task. Getting up for a little bit can relieve the tension and increase your productivity. It gives your brain a chance to take a break, which can improve your ability to unravel and solve the problem. Rather than sitting in your chair unmoving and stumped by the difficulty, get away from it for a few minutes. You may find that you fix the problem faster enabling you to move on to other projects.

Inhibits Job Burn Out

Although many people believe vacations prevent job burn out, getting up from your desk could prevent it as well. A short time span of varied activity every hour or so can increase your productivity without you having to take a week-long vacation. Short time periods away from your desk let your mind stray from work thoughts and activities allowing them to rest.

Encourages Creativity

If you want to combat the afternoon slump that causes you to yawn and lose your momentum, take a quick 5 minute walk. After sitting for a few hours it can spur your productivity for the next few. One reason is because after exercising for just a few minutes in a different area you experience new smells, sights, and sounds. It can help your mind form new ideas and perspectives faster.

How to Move More

Of course, you can get up and take a quick walk or bathroom break to move more throughout your work day. But another idea is to try one of those new desks that allow you to adjust between sitting and standing with ease. As you can see, getting up from your desk can increase your productivity several different ways. It can also give you some side benefits of better health through less stiffness, better blood flow, and less fatigue. Try it out for yourself and see if it makes a difference for you.
Originally published here.

3 Ways to Business Owners Can Use Their Time Wisely

By | Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments
As a human being, your time is the most valuable thing you have because it’s limited. As a business owner, not only is your time limited, but you can always use it to make more money. The problem is many business owners don’t know how to use their time wisely. How do I know this? Because I hear it all the time from business owners who are just starting out. There seems to be a fear that they don’t know what to do with their time – especially if they just quit their jobs and no longer have a manager telling them what to do. I’ve also had to learn some lessons the hard way. I often say I could be making more money by now if only I’d known how to make better use of my time when I was first starting out. Fortunately, for you, you can learn from my mistakes.

Focus on income-generating activities.

I would argue that focusing on income generating activities is one-way business owners can use their time wisely. While money by itself isn’t a motivating factor for many, what money allows us to do is.For example, having money helps me feel secure. I also have more fun because I’m not worried about paying bills. If I can remember this, then I can better focus and use my time for activities that lead to more money in the bank. Here are some example of activities that will directly lead to income:
  • Sales calls
  • Consultations
  • Pitching the media
  • Email marketing
  • Follow Ups
  • Product or service creation
  • List building
While some of these activities can be outsourced over time, chances are you will likely be focusing on these as you get started. Furthermore, you can use this list as a guide the next time you’re in doubt.

Focus on delegating the things that waste your time.

My team handles the majority of tasks that take away time from income generating activities. This includes managing my email, social media, customer service inquiries, graphic design, research, my calendar and loading content onto my website.

Set boundaries.

Another way business owners can use their time wisely is to set boundaries. Here’s an example from one of my clients to show you what I mean: I recently had a coaching client who would spend hours in a meeting with prospects who never ended up using her services. This means she lost an entire afternoon she could have used to talk to people who would pay her. I advised her to make some tweaks to her sales process, starting by setting some boundaries. She stopped taking meetings in person, started using an online scheduler and became strict about steering the call. The result is she has far fewer people who are wasting her time. She’s also begun to make some money whereas that was previously an issue because she didn’t have time to do more sales.

Final Thoughts

Making sure you’re using your time wisely is an important aspect of running a business. Otherwise, you end up leaving a lot of money on the table. Start with these tips and watch how you free up your time and make more money in the process.
Originally published here.

How Time Away from Work Increases Productivity

By | Business Tips, Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments
Many people feel you need to be a workaholic if you are going to be a success. That is not necessarily true. Of course, hard work often goes hand in hand with success and meeting our goals. But that doesn’t mean we need to kill ourselves doing it. Often when we work hard, to the point of keeling over, it’s as if we have something to prove either to ourselves or everyone else around us. It’s like we are saying, “Yes, I really can do it all.” But after a while it begins to take a toll on us. Working constantly with no break doesn’t make us more productive. In fact, time away from work actually increases productivity.

Do More in Less Time

Lack of sleep, fatigue, and stress all have effects on us. They cause a drain on our energy levels and make problem solving much more difficult. It’s hard to stay on task when we are running out of mental fuel. When rested, everything we do can be done in less time. That allows us to do more in a shorter time span.

Prevents Burn Out

Time away from work increases productivity by preventing burn out.  Vacations, morning and afternoon breaks, and lunch periods are all opportunities to shut our minds off. Allowing ourselves to disconnect gives our brains a chance to rest. Think of it like plugging in a cell phone to recharge either at night or during the day. It isn’t going to continue running if we don’t charge it up now and again.

Boosts Creativity

Many people get in a slump in the middle of the afternoon. That is the perfect time to take a fast paced, 5 to 10 minute walk. Cardio activity can actually boost our productivity for up to about two hours after exercise. This allows us to do what we do best but faster. Not only that, but it can spur our creativity and problem solving abilities as well. When we get up, even for a little while, it gets us moving and makes our heart start pumping. This increases our blood flow to every part of our bodies, including our brains. We see things differently. As we form new perspectives on issue or problems we become more innovative and creative at solving them.

Learn More

Grade school aged children get recess time at school. As it turns out, there may be a good reason for that. There is a big benefit to giving ourselves some recess time in a similar way. Once we get up and away from everything even for a little while we can come back to work and direct our focus on learning new tasks or taking on different problems.

Get Sick Less

There are health benefits to taking time away from work. Many people need fewer sick days when they are less stressed. Less stress equals better health equals greater productivity. Obviously working hard is a key part of being successful. But time away from work increases productivity too. To be the best we can, therefore, we should all take breaks periodically and work hard the rest of the time. Do you regularly take time away from work?
Originally published here.

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.

8 Steps to Planning Digital Content in Less Time

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I’m a planner. I love writing things down and preparing myself for the work week in advance. Still, as a content producer myself, planning website content isn’t always an easy task.

When you do finally force yourself to sit down and start planning content for your website, blog, email list, etc. it can be a very time-consuming process. If the major brain dump method doesn’t work for you either, check out these 8 steps to planning digital content in less time.

Step 1: Use Current Copy as a Foundation

The best place to start is to look at your existing content for your business. Even if it sucks, you have someplace to start. Look at analytics to see which content resonated well with your audience and what didn’t.

For example, if you’ve been getting some great feedback on social media for a particular article, see if you can expand on the subject and plan to produce some follow-up content in the future. Keep a running list of topics whenever you gain inspiration or think of ideas that could be useful. It only takes a few minutes to do this each week and it’s the best way to jumpstart the content creation process.

Step 2: Make Sure You Understand Your Audience

Don’t waste time planning digital content before you get to know your target audience. Interact with them on social media, ask your email list questions, save helpful feedback, and ask your audience to a short market research survey every few months. 

This will help make the content planning and creation process much simpler because you’ll know who your audience is and what they want. Sometimes, I practically drive myself crazy trying to brainstorm content ideas. Ever since I started asking my audience what they wanted to see and listening to their recommendations, the digital content planning process has been pretty painless and quick.

If your audience is telling you multiple things, segment your website visitors into the primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences and determine how you’ll address their needs in future content types.

Step 3: Use a Calendar to Map Everything Out

If you’re planning digital content without a calendar, you’re doing it all wrong. Using a calendar tool can help you stay organized and begin to work ahead.

I like to set up days dedicated to brainstorming, outlining, creating/scheduling, polishing, and promoting. Yes, the content production process is pretty tedious, but having a solid plan laid out in writing can make all the difference.

Coming up with headlines and outlines at this stage is very important. It’s interesting to note that doing this in advance will literally cut a lot of time out of the content creation process and keep you focused so you can finish and release your content more efficiently.

By storing everything on a digital calendar, you can set reminders to hold yourself accountable for meeting specific deadlines and allowing yourself enough time to prepare what you need to complete the content.

Step 4: Work With Others

Ask others to help you research, edit and review when you’re planning digital content. This will save you a ton of time. For example, if you’re writing for search engines or trying to rank some of your web pages, you may want to have someone do SEO research. 

If you’re producing social media copy you may want to have a consult with a social media marketing expert to help you come up with a clear strategy so you don’t waste time making rookie mistakes.

This can be ongoing or just a one-time thing depending on your needs.

Step 5. Storytelling vs ‘Storyselling’

You don’t have to use your website to merely tell your own story. The stories that matter are those of the people who have used your products and services and found them beneficial.

Nobody is interested in knowing how wonderful a business you have. Give your audience results and evidence. The language you use should speak to them. Offer your products as the solution to their products.

One of the easiest ways I work storytelling into my digital content planning process is to simply be authentic. When I experience things or have conversations that I believe could be pivoted into inspiring content for my audience, I add the idea to my content calendar with a date and a brief outline. In less than 2 minutes, I have quality content planned that I can produce quickly.

Step 6. Write For Search Engines and Humans

SEO is important. However, crowding your content with too many keywords can only render it unreadable. Include the keywords as naturally as possible to avoid coming out as a robot. If anything, you don’t have to stick to your specific keywords. Use variations that will still give the same meaning.

As you’re planning your content for the web, it helps to determine a focus keyword ahead of time so you know what to base your content around. I like using the Google Adword Keyword Planner tool because it’s free and easy to use when you’re researching keywords and narrowing them down.

Step 7. Have an Action-Oriented Copy

All of your content should have a goal behind it. It’s likely that you want to help turn readers into leads and paying customers. To do this, you need to make sure you plan out content that has a clear call to action.

This will prompt your audience to do something. This is something I failed to do in the beginning stages when planning content for my business and I regretted it. It’s important to focus on providing value, but you also want to let people know what you want them to do. Is it to call you, email you, or make an online purchase? Show them the step they need to take next. Provide links or email address so that they can find it easy to reply and take action.

Step 8. Make It Visually Appealing

Content and visuals go hand-in-hand. When you’re planning digital content, be sure to include ideas for illustrations, charts, and images to support the text. Alternatively, use testimonials, bulleted lists or larger pull quotes. Divide sections with subheadings and use short paragraphs.

Again, planning all this out on a calendar will help you stay organized and on track. Remember, you don’t have to actually follow through will all of your ideas for content, images, SEO, etc. All you have to do is jot them down and organize them. 

The whole process can be done in under 20 minutes weekly or once a month as a huge content overhaul.

Do you plan out your content at all for your business? If so which one of these steps to you find most valuable?

 

Originally posted here.

Productive Things to do During Downtime

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

Exercise

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

Read

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

Network

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

Open and Respond to Emails

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

Reorganize Your Calendar

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

 

What productive tasks do you do during downtime?


Originally published here.

6 Tips for Successful Calendar Sharing

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

1. Block Time for Your Own Work

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

2. Stay Up To Date

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

3. Eliminate General Entries

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

4. Let Others Know Your Scheduling Preferences

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

5. Keep Private What Should Be Private

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

6. Create Gaps Between Events

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