Category Archives: Time Management

What Is Timeboxing?

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Large Clock on a Glass Wall;; What Is Timeboxing?

All of us have experienced that 30-minute task that morphed into a full-day project. After all, without time constraints, work can easily drag on throughout the day. This phenomenon is known as Parkinson’s Law, which says “work expands to fill the time available for completion.” Thankfully, you can regain control of your schedule by timeboxing.

When you use timeboxing to manage your work, you can overcome procrastination, regain lost productivity, and focus on the work that matters. Ultimately, the goal is to spend less time planning work and more time working.

What Is Timeboxing?

By timeboxing, you allocate a set amount of time to a specific task on your calendar.

Instead of just working until something is done, you decide when and how much time you will dedicate to it. To put it another way, timeboxing means scheduling a specific amount of time for a particular task in your calendar.

Basically, it’s the same as scheduling a meeting. You pick the day, as well as the start and end times. And most importantly, you reserve time in your calendar to avoid calendar conflicts.

Once you reserve a slot time, you should treat it like an appointment. If you work on a time-boxed task, you will not be interrupted by reschedulings or distractions.

In the case of larger tasks, you may need to reserve several blocks of time ahead of time. You can effectively schedule and prioritize your time with this approach.

“Timeboxing will change your life,” explains Nir Eyal. “It works because it uses well-researched technique psychologists call, ‘setting an implementation intention,’ which is just a fancy way of saying, ‘planning out what you are going to do and when you will do it.'”

No wonder leaders like Bill Gates and Elon Musk have sung the praises of this practice.

The Pros and Cons of Timeboxing

Timeboxing has several advantages. Among the main benefits are:

  • You’ll be more intentional about your work. Creating a timebox requires prioritizing tasks and deciding how long they should take. The more you think about these details for every task, the more aware you are of where your time is going.
  • It is easier to “force yourself” to tackle those tasks you have procrastinated on or that you know you will struggle with.
  • Setting strict limits on when and how much time you will spend on a particular task will help you organize your schedule more effectively. In addition, you’ll be more productive and focused if you don’t get interrupted or distracted while working on your task.
  • Reduces multitasking. The human brain is incapable of multitasking. The brain must re-upload information every time we switch tasks, which takes energy and time. When you timebox, you focus on one task (or a related group of tasks) at a time. This way, you won’t jump between projects.
  • It helps you manage perfectionism, overprocessing and overdoing.
  • Establishes a routine. You can gain a better understanding of your day. When you schedule your timeboxes in your calendar, you can clearly see when each task will be completed. When you schedule your work in advance, you will be less likely to get caught up in the “guessing game” of scheduling and can approach each day more confidently.

The Disadvantages of Timeboxing

Although timeboxing has many benefits, it isn’t for everyone. Listed below are some of the most common drawbacks of timeboxing and some ways to overcome them.

  • You can’t finish your task before the timebox is up. When first starting out, this is a common issue with timeboxing. However, if you track your time over time, you’ll more accurately estimate the time needed to complete specific tasks.
  • Timeboxing disrupts my flow. It can be frustrating when you have to switch tasks when the timer goes off. This is why grouping similar tasks into back-to-back time boxes is recommended.
  • By timeboxing, I rush through tasks, resulting in low-quality work. When establishing a timebox, be realistic. You shouldn’t force every ounce of productivity out of time management techniques like timeboxing. If you try that, you will burn out instead of succeeding. Instead, keep your expectations realistic and schedule downtime between tasks to prevent burnout.
  • My calendar is a bit cluttered after adding all of my timeboxes. Taking control of your calendar is possible with timeboxing. But this time management strategy is not for everyone. Another time management strategy, such as time blocking, might help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

How Timeboxing and Timeblocking Differ

When you use time blocking, you schedule a time to accomplish everything on your agenda, everything you might otherwise be unable to accomplish.

Time blocks, also called time periods, refer to shorter time periods that can be marked on your calendar and dictate starting and ending times for activities. Each time block is intended to motivate you to help you follow your schedule and complete your work on time.

Then you assess whether you completed the task before the end of the time block. If not, you allocate more time for the next attempt.

How is timeboxing different?

When you timebox, you limit activities to avoid wasting too much time.

The process involves creating time periods called “timeboxes,” which can range in length from a few minutes to several months. In addition to deadlines and goals, timeboxes may also include milestones, deliverables, and a budget.

Regardless of the outcome, you declare your work done at the end of the timebox. After that, you assess whether or not you have reached your goals.

For example, you might want to clean up your office without spending the whole afternoon doing so. Whenever your 30-minute timebox runs out, you stop immediately, regardless of how much cleaning you’ve done.

Getting Started With Timeboxing

Are you interested in giving timeboxing a try? Here are nine pointers to get you started on your journey.

1. Identify appropriate tasks.

The general rule is to assign a timebox to any task you want. However, setting timeboxes for the following would be most helpful:

Those tasks you don’t want to do.

In most cases, these are time-consuming and demanding tasks, such as writing an eBook. As a consequence, your procrastination is the result of knowing you cannot complete these tasks quickly.

If you break up your work into smaller, more manageable chunks with their own deadlines and milestones, you make the task seem less daunting. Then, to reach the next one, you only need to motivate yourself.

The tasks you want to complete as quickly as possible.

Cleaning your bathroom or arranging your emails are two examples of necessary but unpleasant tasks. These tasks will either take a long time to complete or consume too much of your time.

A strict deadline will limit the time you’ll spend on the project from the get-go.

2. Differentiate between hard and soft timeboxes.

To clarify what you should do after each timebox, distinguish “hard” timeboxes from “soft” timeboxes:

  • Soft timebox. A soft timebox can be thought of as a group of smaller tasks you’ve broken down into larger ones. After completing one timebox, you move on to the next timebox. You can keep track of your work with symbolic milestones, which will help you parse it more effectively and make it easier to manage.
  • Hard timebox. A hard timebox is one you won’t think about once it’s over. You move from one completely unrelated timebox to the next as soon as you finish one. As your focus shifts to a different type of task, milestones become more apparent.

3. Make timeboxed time a priority.

You may find it tempting to rearrange, reschedule, or cancel your timeboxes when you have a busy day. Keep this to a minimum. When you have established your timeboxes, think of them as self-scheduled meetings instead of going with the flow.

By setting aside time for a specific task, you are committing to yourself that you will complete it during that time. Therefore, Timeboxes shouldn’t be canceled at the last minute, just like you wouldn’t cancel a meeting at the last minute unless absolutely necessary.

4. Visualize your time.

The best way to timebox is to make it visually appealing. To see what time limit you have on any particular task, it helps to schedule focus time on your calendar. In addition to helping you stay on schedule, it also lets others know when you will not be available.

5. Set a limit on the timebox.

How long should a timebox last if it’s realistic?

According to the widely discussed science of ultradian rhythms, you should never allocate more than 90 minutes to any task in one sitting.

The amount can, however, be reduced. For example, feel free to set a five-minute time limit for brainstorming tasks that will take about five minutes.

It’s entirely up to you how long your timeboxes are and how many tasks you’ve got to accomplish. But, regardless of the timebox length, taking a break after 90 minutes is always a good idea.

6. Take breaks between timeboxes.

Breaks help you stay focused longer. Again, science shows that your attention begins to wane after 90 minutes, but it might wane much earlier. To keep your routine smooth, you must plan ahead for breaks.

It is possible, for example, to work for 45 minutes and then take a 15-minute break. This will give you a full hour.

Also, you should make the most of these breaks. I recommend taking a break during your break time to let your eyes rest, primarily if you work all day in front of a computer. Try stretching or taking a short walk outside instead.

As soon as you return, you’ll have regained your focus and concentration, just in time to work for another 45-minute timebox.

7. Set timers.

As soon as you’ve assigned time to each task, set a timer to remind you when it’s time to move on to the next one. You will not only be motivated to work efficiently if you set a specific period of time. But you will also ensure you don’t leave out other important projects as well.

8. Similar tasks should be grouped together.

It is best to create individual timeboxes for most tasks and initiatives to timebox effectively. This is because it takes time and mental energy to switch between tasks, even with timeboxing. Therefore, tasks should be grouped in adjacent timeboxes to avoid this problem. By doing this, your brain will stay on the same “track” even while you work on individual projects.

In other words, even if you switch timeboxes, grouping similar tasks will make it easier for you to stay focused and flow.

9.  Review, rinse, and repeat.

Review your progress at the end of every timebox or day. Can you learn anything and apply it to your future schedules if you complete all your tasks?

If not, ask yourself why. Did you allow enough time for the task to be completed? What distracted you or derailed you?

What is Timeboxing? was originally published on Calender.com by John Hall. Featured Image Credit: Thomas Brenac; Pexels.com. Thank you!

Calendar Full? 5 Ways To Maximize Your Meetings

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Calendar Full? 5 Ways To Maximize Your Meetings

No company operates in a vacuum, and very few businesses are one-person operations. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you’ll likely need to coordinate with clients. In short, business means collaboration. Working with others translates to the necessity of meetings. And meetings can either be a drain for your schedule and productivity. Or, when you maximize meetings, a chance to ensure you’re on the same page with your collaborators, work out kinks and develop actionable plans for your projects.

Most of us have experienced those meetings that we know by the “could have been an email” trope. They’re the ones that seem to have no clear direction, in which the group collectively spins its wheels. This might be due to participants getting sidetracked or simply because the content of the meeting is redundant.

It’s not a great feeling to sit through an entire hour while silently stressing about the tasks we could be doing instead. Packed calendars are ubiquitous; no one wants or deserves a time-wasting meeting. If you’re in charge of periodic or regular check-ins with your team or clients, everyone involved will thank you for running smooth and effective meetings that support their tasks.

A great meeting should help participants resolve stuck points, get team members on the same page, clarify project next steps and generally save time and energy. Carefully planning your meetings and sticking to the plan will help the members of your team get the most out of face-to-face time.

Remember that time is money and budget meeting time accordingly.

It’s important to periodically evaluate the frequency and time demands of your team’s meeting schedule. Ask yourself:

Do you need a weekly or bi-weekly face-to-face to stay on track?

Can some meetings be skipped if no pressing concerns need to be addressed?

How will holding a meeting impact your team’s productivity: will it enhance it by alleviating stuck points, or will it hinder it by pulling people out of their zones?

Evaluate whether your team requires standing meetings.

Try not to get stuck in the mindset that meetings, especially standing meetings, are necessary to keep everyone moving forward together. Sometimes, it really can be an email. Being thoughtful about when and how you conduct your meetings could translate into significant cost savings for your business. Remember, you’re paying for everyone’s time during that meeting. You’re also potentially losing productive time on tasks if you’re meeting unnecessarily. It might be enlightening to get out a calculator and run the numbers for your company’s spend on weekly meeting time.

Have a clear meeting agenda and stay on task.

When you and your team have determined that a gathering is warranted, whether virtual or in-person, it’s vital to have a clear action plan. Before each meeting, clearly identify what you want to accomplish, who needs to be involved and how you will organize the time. Try not to require attendance from teammates if you don’t need to take up their time. It’s essential to create and share an agenda for each meeting – and stick to it.

“If I don’t have an agenda in front of me, I walk out,” Annette Catino, chief executive of the QualCare Alliance Network, told the New York Times. “Give me an agenda or else I’m not going to sit there, because if I don’t know why we’re in the meeting, and you don’t know why we’re there, then there’s no reason for a meeting.”

Tips for Maximizing Your Meetings

Developing a plan ahead of time will help everyone involved know what to expect, keep discussions corralled and save everyone time.

Here are five tips you can implement today to help you and your team ensure efficiency and that you all get the most out of your collaborative time.

1. Have a meeting agenda available for your team before you get together.

A well-thought-out meeting agenda is the heart and soul of effective team collaboration. Think of it as a playbill for success, a guide that sets the stage for smooth performance. Your agenda should include the essential who, why, what, and how information.

Your team should know who is attending. Communicate expectations to each attendee for their contribution to the conversation. You should also have a clear goal established, even for standing meetings. What are your team’s pain points and how will you address them during this time? If you can’t answer the big “W” questions, you may want to back up. Assess whether your team needs to meet at all.

The agenda does not need to be a fully fleshed-out document, with paragraphs of explanations or instructions. Instead, simply identify the items that need to be dealt with, in an order that makes sense, and note who is invited to contribute to each point. You may end up going off script at times, but having a clear outline will go a long way to keeping everyone on task.

2. Use your meeting agenda to stay on task and ensure efficiency.

To help maximize any meeting, it’s vital for every participant to receive a copy of the agenda beforehand. If possible, allow enough time for feedback and questions. You might find your team helps you improve on your plan beforehand.

If you’re a traditional brick-and-mortar operation, you could distribute hard copies of your agenda before you meet. But that isn’t a viable option for hybrid or remote gatherings. Emailing an agenda document to everyone is a possible solution. Or, you might consider tech tools that can help organize the process from start to finish.

One tech tool option to maximize your meetings is Fellow. Fellow’s software includes meeting templates, so you don’t have to start with a blank page when organizing your agenda. The agendas also allow you to keep your team accountable and informed about key decisions. Having a multi-feature tool for your team is one way to keep everyone on the same page and keep track of needs and progress at a glance.

3. Stay on task and cut down on distractions.

Depending on your culture, you may want to spice up your meetings a little to keep your team engaged. But if you do, it’s a good idea to keep everyone otherwise focused and on task. Make sure everyone has the space to contribute and you’re working to help with pain points or sticking points.

If you’re running the meeting, strive to serve as its moderator. Foster open communication. Be ready to step in when it’s time to redirect or move the meeting along to the next agenda item. As you tick down the list, stick to a rhythm of communication, brainstorming, and settling.

Talk about where you’re stuck or what needs to be addressed about a particular point. Allow the team a reasonable amount of time (given your schedule and the meeting length) to discuss approaches and then commit to a strategy to address it before moving on. If something doesn’t work, you can revisit it later.

4. Encourage note-taking and active listening.

Meetings can be rich opportunities for teams to work through roadblocks collaboratively. If you plan them out thoughtfully, stick to the plan and allow participants to bring their challenges and solutions to the table, you can accomplish workplace miracles.

Coaching your team on active listening (listening to understand vs. listening to respond), and good note-taking will help participants maximize the benefits they reap from each face-to-face meeting.

Some form of note-taking, whether by hand or with a digital device, will help team members remember next steps and other action items. If you meet online, you might consider creating a digital recording of important meetings. Attendees can review details asynchronously later.

5. Go forth and turn those bullet points into action.

You want your time to be used to maximum efficiency when you gather your team. As a result, make sure your meeting allows for planning and the next steps. You could have a recap at the end of each session, quickly summarizing each relevant topic, outlining how the team will address the issue, and clarifying who is responsible for what.

To maximize your meetings, you could also work this into each agenda item as you move through the meeting itself. Everyone should leave the table (whether it’s in your meeting room or virtual meeting space) with a clear understanding of actions they will take to move forward. If each attendee leaves the meeting empowered with the knowledge of what and how to do next, you can save significant time and energy as a project progresses.

Whether you and your team operate in person, remote or hybrid, meetings are likely a staple of your weekly or monthly scheduling. You need to collaborate, and sometimes face-to-face is the best way to do that. These steps can help you ensure a smooth and productive meeting online or in person, and help you avoid wasting your and your team members’ time.

In short, great meetings involve a lot of clear communication, from beginning to end. Start by evaluating whether you should have a meeting and who is essential to the process. Clearly outline points to be addressed in a succinct meeting agenda. Keep the meeting flowing on task. Ensure everyone walks out knowing what to do next. A little extra planning and preparation will save your team a healthy amount of time, cost and stress.

Calendar Full? 5 Ways To Maximize Your Meetings was originally published on Calendar.com by Deanna Ritchie. Featured Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels.com. Thank you!

5 Tips for Waking Up Earlier

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5 Tips for Waking Up Earlier

Not everyone is a natural morning person. Some like to sleep in and get a few extra Z’s. Ever heard of “beauty sleep?” Getting some extra rest is definitely okay unless your schedule no longer allows for it and you need to start waking up earlier.

Maybe it’s a new job, or you’re returning to school after the summer break. Whatever the reason, if you’re not used to waking up early, making the switch can be difficult.

Most people don’t enjoy getting less sleep. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this that don’t involve missing out on much-needed rest. There’s more to it than just going to sleep earlier.

Making some simple changes to your mornings can make a significant difference. Starting to make these changes might seem daunting, but in reality, it’s not so tough. Here are some tips to help yourself wake up earlier and conquer the day.

1. Draft a schedule.

One way to feel more prepared for the next day? Utilizing a schedule should be your go-to move. Scheduling is the perfect way to lay out what you need to get done, then plan your day accordingly.

Simply write down what you know you need to do the next day, and assign the tasks to different times of the day. It can make your days easier because you can visualize what your day requires. Also, you won’t have to figure out what task to do next at the moment. If indecision rules your days, adding this form of structure can help keep you on course.

You don’t have to go crazy planning ahead. Some people aren’t big schedulers, and that’s okay. That can be enough if you want to think ahead only the day before. There are no rules to break here.

When making your schedule, remember to allow enough time for each task. Additionally, be realistic about how many things you do in a day. The point is not to overwhelm yourself; it’s to make your life easier. One thing you can schedule ahead is a morning routine (see #2). Seeing what you need to do in the mornings can help give a sense of order.

2. Create a morning routine.

One of the secrets of waking up earlier is to follow a routine. A morning routine can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. If you’re new to the concept, going easier on yourself is your best bet.

Making a routine is simple — have an order of the activities you need to accomplish in the morning.

For example, the first thing you might do when you wake up is brush your teeth. Then, you might shower. Basically, you’re mapping out what you’ll be doing and giving it some order.

There are different aspects of morning routines. What kind of morning do you want? That might seem like a loaded question, but give it some thought. Do you want to exercise? Make a nice breakfast? Time to journal or meditate? These are things to consider when planning a routine for your mornings.

Perhaps most importantly, remember to make your routine realistic. If you’re not used to going on morning runs and coming home to a green smoothie, don’t expect this by tomorrow. It can take a moment to get adjusted, so start small. For example, go on a short run your first day, and maybe pre-make your smoothie the night before.

Whatever you choose to include in your new routine, make sure it’s not too much to handle. A routine is all about simplifying your time, not adding extra stress. If you’re lying awake at night, dreading everything you have to do when you wake up — it won’t help you. Go easy on yourself!

3. Avoid the snooze button.

When trying to make yourself wake earlier, it can be so tempting to press “snooze.” The extra five or ten minutes might feel like it would do you some good. However, this way of thinking is actually the opposite of reality.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, hitting snooze can be harmful to your sleep health. You might condition your brain to expect those extra minutes, which would be counterintuitive. The short sleep period is not actually restful, so it’s a waste of time. You might even feel more sleepy afterwards.

So how do you stop relying on the snooze button? A little self-control can go a long way. Do all you can not to be tempted to get those extra few minutes. Additional minutes that are not beneficial, if you remember. Try counting 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 — and hop out of bed.

Get up and do some jumping jacks. Splash your face with cold water. Anything to get yourself out of bed and feel a bit more energized. It can be hard at first, but your body will thank you later.

4. Have something to look forward to.

It might seem silly, but anticipating something you enjoy is one of the simplest ways to get yourself up and at them. If you have an activity you’ve planned, and you’re looking forward to — it’s less tempting to stay in bed. It’s some simple psychology, but it works.

Think about something that would motivate you to get up. Is it a yummy breakfast? Maybe a refreshing run outside? Or, perhaps it’s a delicious cappuccino that helps give you that caffeine boost. Whatever it may be, having something that gets you out of bed is great.

If you haven’t used this method before, it could be a good one to try. First, however, think about how much time this rewarding activity will take. You’ll need to factor that into your morning schedule. Or, you might have to adjust your wake-up time.

If you think a mouthwatering breakfast sounds like it would get you up, try that. And, there are steps you can take to make the process easier on yourself in the morning. Having to make a complete breakfast from scratch could take some time. Instead, prepare some things in advance to make cooking a quicker task (see #5).

5. Prep the night before.

Another step you can take to help yourself wake up earlier is to prepare in advance for your morning routine. The less you have to do right out of bed, the easier it can be to get everything done. This can help you feel less stressed about the morning time.

For example, meal prepping for breakfast can free up your mornings. By cooking breakfast the night before, all you have to do is reheat. Or, if you don’t want to make all of it in advance, just prepare some parts of it beforehand.

Let’s say you want an omelet, but don’t like the taste of reheated eggs — prepare to have a fresh omelet by chopping up any vegetables you want to add to the omelet. If you want to add meat, like bacon or sausage, cook those the night before. Now all you have to do is throw it all in a pan in the morning.

How about a little less of an effort? Even just laying out products you’ll use or clothes you’ll wear the next day can help. Picking out your outfit the night before can cut down on time in the mornings, especially if you’re indecisive.

If you wear makeup, lay out what you’ll use on your dresser or vanity. You’ll have less reaching and searching to do when using everything. This can really help with fuzzy morning brain, too.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

It’s important to remind yourself that making adjustments can be hard. Especially if you’re not a morning person, changing the time you wake up can be extra difficult.

It might not be smooth sailing from the get-go, and that’s okay. Don’t put yourself down for any struggle you may feel during the process.

No one said being human is easy. Remember to give yourself some grace. Utilize the tools around you — make a schedule, have a reward ready, prep the night before. Whatever it takes to reach your goal, be sure to use it.

5 Tips for Waking Up Earlier was originally published on Calendar.com by Angela Ruth. Featured Image Credit: Los Muertos Crew; Pexels.com. Thank you!

Why Is Time Management Considered a Soft Skill?

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Why Is Time Management Considered a Soft Skill?

Optimizing your resume is vital when applying for a job, asking for a raise, or seeking a promotion. Obviously, factors like your education and experience play a role. However, it’s also true for the hard skills you possess, such as the specific knowledge and skills required to perform well at a job.

However, increasingly, soft skills are playing a significant role.

“93% of employers say soft skills play a critical role in their decision about whom they want to hire,” says Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter. “Those soft skills include showing up on time, willingness to learn, enthusiasm, and a can-do attitude. So when you don’t have work experience to sell, remember that you can still sell yourself.”

The term “soft skills” encompasses a wide range of abilities. However, due to people working in very different situations, hybrid situations, communication is very high on the list right now. ZipRecruiter listed communication as the most in-demand soft skill that employers are looking for. This was followed by customer service, scheduling, time management, project management, analytical thinking, and the ability to work independently.

But what exactly are soft skills? How does time management fit into the concept of “soft skills?” And, in what ways does it allow you to thrive at work?

Well, let’s answer those questions, and more, in the following article.

What are soft skills?

Often, time management is referred to as a soft skill. But what does that mean exactly? Essentially, a soft skill is a desirable trait for employers.

The soft skills you possess determine your work style and your interaction with your co-workers. The difference between hard skills and soft skills is that hard skills are technical and job-specific. In contrast, soft skills relate to professionalism, timeliness, and other essential, intangible qualities that complement the practical skills required for the job, making you an attractive candidate.

Although these skills are crucial to success at work and in your personal life, many people never learn them. Some of the most common soft skills include:

  • communication;
  • collaboration;
  • emotional Intelligence;
  • analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • creativity;
  • adaptability and flexibility;
  • leadership;
  • learning agility;
  • stress management;
  • ownership; and
  • attention to detail.

As people have gained access to colleges and technical schools, they have developed more advanced hard skills. Yet, despite this, many people lack the soft skills necessary to succeed. And again, the importance of technical or skilled skills cannot be overstated. For example, skills like coding, marketing, or speaking another language will definitely give you an edge.

However, if you have no interpersonal skills or have difficulty managing your work ethic, you will have a tough time succeeding. It is even possible that you could lose your job.

Due to this, soft skills are more important than you may realize. So do not underplay or disregard them during an interview or ask for a raise or promotion. Instead, ensure that potential employers know you are efficient, effective, and able to work with others.

Why is time management considered a soft skill?

Managing time effectively is a soft skill because it cannot be taught in a formal classroom setting. Instead, it requires practice and experience to develop.

But, more specifically, time management is considered a soft skill for the following reasons.

  • Regardless of your profession, it applies to you. Managing your time effectively is important regardless of your industry or position. In fact, unlike hard skills specific to certain industries, time management is a universal skill set.
  • You can transfer it. In addition to the previous point, soft skills can be applied to any career path. Their use is versatile and can be adapted to many different positions and settings.
  • It’s teachable. Although not traditionally taught in a classroom, soft skills like time management can be taught. Most accomplish this through training, coaching, workshops, and external mentoring.
  • Success requires it. As a soft skill, time management is crucial to success. Without time management, you will have difficulty meeting deadlines, completing tasks, and achieving your goals.
  • Soft skills strengthen workplace relationships. The last thing anyone wants to work with is someone who never meets deadlines or disrespects their time. Unfortunately, it is possible to disrupt your co-workers and make life difficult for everyone in your workplace without time management skills. The result can be friction between your co-workers.
  • It’s a life skill. The ability to manage time is not only useful at work. Your personal life can benefit from this as well. Whether completing daily chores, setting and keeping appointments, going to the gym, or spending time with family and friends, time management is an integral part of our lives. Intentionally managing your time will help you make better decisions and maintain a successful work-life balance.

Why is time management an important soft skill?

With a better understanding of soft skills, let’s look at the importance of time management at work.

  • It makes your work experience more enjoyable. You are more likely to deliver a high-quality end product on time (or before) when operating at your highest level. In turn, this boosts your confidence, motivation, and engagement.
  • Goal-setting becomes easier. By setting smarter goals, it will be easier for you to track and achieve them.
  • Provides more opportunities. By being proficient in the basics of your job, you will have more opportunities for training, career growth, promotions, and mentoring in the workplace. In addition, when you learn how to manage your time efficiently, you can gain additional skills that can last your entire career and increase your competitiveness.
  • You can make better decisions. Planning your day strategically and prioritizing the most important tasks first is the key to making wise, practical time management decisions. You will become more productive as you develop this habit and think more creatively and critically about your tasks.
  • You’ll be able to avoid stress and burnout. Allocating specific time windows for being most productive is a critical element of time management. You’ll be less stressed when you utilize these time frames and get your work done efficiently. For example, when you block out time for your priorities, you can avoid waiting until the last minute or letting distractions interrupt your workflow.
  • More personal time. A satisfying work-life balance is something we all strive for. Nevertheless, finding that balance can be difficult when your work and home to-do lists are overwhelming. We can regain our freedom by managing our time well off the clock. We won’t work odd or long hours if we have a deadline. Managing our time allows us to relax, refresh, and reset.

Types of Time Management Skills

While not an extensive list, here are some of the most essential types of time management skills you should consider developing.

Prioritizing

You may be unable to complete every task you are asked to do. And, that’s alright — despite your desire to do everything at once.

You must prioritize your tasks to accomplish what matters most in a logical order. Among the factors to consider when assigning priority are:

  • the timeframe for each task;
  • estimated timeframe;
  • the ways it might be necessary to others in the organization;
  • the consequences of not completing the task;
  • the possibility that a task could be interrupted by a bottleneck; and
  • whether it could it be delegated or outsourced to someone else.

Scheduling

Some tasks must be accomplished at specific times, so scheduling is essential. Schedules affect the flow of your day, your week, your month, and the workflow of others. Due to energy levels and demands of the day, most people are more or less productive at specific times of the day.

Keeping a schedule can also help you avoid procrastination. For example, let’s say that you need to return an important phone call. If it’s not scheduled, you may keep putting it off by saying, “I’ll get around to it.” As a consequence, you never make this important phone call.

Moreover, a schedule ensures you never miss deadlines or meetings. And, it’s pretty handy in breaking larger tasks into more manageable pieces.

Task Management

You can prevent forgetting important tasks by keeping a to-do list (properly prioritized) and integrating it into your schedule. In addition, they help you avoid spending all day thinking about your to-do list.

Keeping track of your tasks takes energy, and having to contend with everything that needs to be done throughout the week can be a burden. Keep a daily list of all the tasks you need to accomplish, and you won’t be overwhelmed. Focus on one task at a time.

How you decide to manage your tasks is totally up to you. Some prefer to create daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists. Others, however, may for techniques like batching, where you arrange your tasks in similar groups—for example, setting aside specific time blocks for email management or scheduling meetings only on Tuesdays.

Workload Management

Even though it may seem odd, pacing your work is a crucial time management skill. Working long hours or skipping breaks may improve productivity in the short term, but you will lose productivity in the long run due to exhaustion. Unless there is an emergency, it is important not to overwork. Your schedule should include necessary breaks and a reasonable end time.

Also, you can avoid burnout by knowing and implementing an optimum workload for yourself.

Minimizing Distractions

When you learn how to manage your time, you can avoid distractions. Experts recommend that you avoid distractions during work hours, such as emails, texts, and social media.

Doing this will allow you to keep your focus and utilize your time efficiently. When working, it can be tempting to let people interrupt you or let your laziness get in the way. For your schedule to run smoothly, though, you must remain focused and organized.

You should be in control of your work time as well. For instance, you should not waste time looking at irrelevant work materials on the web.

Do not lose focus. After all, there’s a reason that you set goals. You will achieve your goals much more quickly if you focus your efforts appropriately.

Delegation

It may be possible for you to delegate some tasks, depending on your line of work. As such, you need to know when to delegate and what to delegate.

At the same time, many people are reluctant to delegate, either because of their desire for control or to save money by not hiring assistants or employees. In the end, both approaches reduce productivity and increase costs.

Despite diligent time management, you may be trying to do too much if you still can’t accomplish everything on your to-do list. Remember, rather than failing at many tasks; it is better to succeed at a few of them.

How to Improve Your Time Management Skills

Are you interested in improving your time management skills? To solve this problem, you can do a few things.

Keeping a time log is a good place to start. As a result, you can audit where your time is currently being spent. Additionally, this can help you discover when you’re most productive and when you’re wasting time.

In the words of psychotherapist and writer Nathaniel Branden, “The first step toward change is awareness.”

After that, you need to be deliberate. After all, time management doesn’t just magically happen. It also involves the following.

  • Setting small blocks of intention, like 30-minutes on an activity that brings you closer to reaching a goal.
  • Use techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix to determine what your priorities are.
  • Evaluating time-wasters, such as the time spent in your inbox.
  • Get comfortable with saying “no” when you’ve packed your calendar.
  • Building a conducive work environment by keeping it clean and organized.
  • Fight back against procrastination by scheduling your most important tasks when you’re most productive.
  • Add white space to your calendar instead of scheduling every minute of your day, like blank spaces for emergencies.
  • Assessing your schedule regularly. Doing so will help you prepare and ensure your time is spent wisely.
  • Tracking the progress of your goals to hold yourself accountable.

In Conclusion

There’s no denying that we’re living in an era of change in the workplace.

Because of that, soft skills are in high demand. More and more employers recognize the importance of soft skills for employee morale and productivity. Having the right opportunities and the right environment can help you develop soft skills.

Because of this, time management is a soft skill that can enhance your career.

Why Is Time Management Considered a Soft Skill? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton. Featured Image Credit: Ono Kosuki; Pexels. Thank you!

How Can I Better Manage My Time Management Needs

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You can always do better to improve your time management abilities and habits. Manage your time management needs to make your life better.

Signs that you need to improve your time management abilities and habits include the following:

  • your long-term ambitions appear elusive;
  • you are not getting much done; and
  • you miss or move your deadlines.

There is no project manager assigned to your life to manage your time and responsibilities properly. You can take charge of your own time management needs.

Everyone struggles with time management. It is a skill most of us could use some help to improve. However, signs that you need to improve your time management abilities and habits include:

  • your long-term ambitions appear elusive;
  • you often miss or move deadlines;
  • you can’t concentrate and struggle to accomplish chores or projects;
  • your work list is overwhelming;
  • you decide you just cannot do it all;
  • you labor longer than you should on particular tasks;
  • you’re always stressed; and
  • you’re trying hard…but getting nowhere.

If any of the following apply to you, it’s time to grow up a bit and work on your time management.

Finding Out How Time Management Works

1. Set objectives.

We often ignore goals while managing our time.

It’s easy to lose sight of long-term objectives amid everyday duties. As a result, you may struggle to concentrate on the most pressing issues or prioritize your extensive list of responsibilities.

Overwhelmed? Re-evaluate your task list. Will spending time on this specific task help you achieve your goals?

Work from your SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-Based. Unrealistic or vague objectives are challenging to monitor and generally unfinished.

2. Plan your time.

Stop letting others schedule your time.

The most effective strategy to acquire time management skills is to be purposeful with your time. You are making time management a habit that may help you achieve long-term objectives while reducing distractions and increasing attention. When planning your time working from home, keep in mind different timetables.

For example, notify your roommates when you don’t want to be disturbed, go to a public place, or make a lot of noise. Establishing expectations ahead of time decreases the possibilities for conflict.

3. Plan time chunks.

Blocking your time is an excellent method to prioritize non-urgent, long-term projects that demand attention and significant labor.

  • It’s generally put on hold when more pressing duties demand your attention.
  • Setting aside time to focus on specific tasks ensures progress.
  • Limiting work time also reduces task fatigue.

A shared calendar at work might help discourage employees from arranging meetings within your time blocks.

4. Find your time management peak hours.

Power hours are when you have the most incredible energy and do the most.

You may already be aware of your power hours. If you’re unsure, monitor your time to find out. Therefore, during your power hours, schedule your most vital and time-consuming chores.

However, schedule monotonous jobs that don’t demand much concentration throughout the day.

5. Use sprints for focus.

It’s not always simple to start a job or work deep. Therefore, the Pomodoro approach works well for task beginning and attention issues.

Schedule brief (15–30 minute) periods of intense concentration on a single activity. Then take a five-minute pause between sprints. Prepare a distraction-free environment before a concentration sprint. Get rid of everything except what you need to complete your task.

For example, enable Do Not Disturb on your devices. Avoid putting up with talkative roommates. Your sprints may be as long or as short as you choose. However, five- and ten-minute sprints with one-minute pauses may be more suitable for you.

6. Set time management priorities.

Our to-do lists may suddenly balloon. Idea generation and idealization are human strengths. Ideas are limitless, but time is limited. Pretending you can manufacture time increases your stress levels. For example, the Eisenhower Matrix is a powerful prioritizing tool.

Even if you don’t use the diagram to prioritize activities, the vocabulary and structure may help you evaluate their worth. For example, tasks that need quick attention.

  • Important: Tasks that help you achieve your objectives. However, they aren’t always urgent, yet failure to do so has significant implications.

The Eisenhower Time Management Matrix divides work into four quadrants. Using this approach will help you prioritize your tasks.

Prioritize these tasks. Next, do these things.

  • Important But Not Urgent: Postpone or assign. Don’t do it! Remove it from your list.

You don’t have to do everything. However, delete tasks that don’t fulfill your aims to save time, especially if you created them. It takes some trial and error to find the right one for you. Nevertheless, it is possible to build good time management skills.

7. Schedule your week and days.

Every day and week, set your aims and priorities. However, planning your calendar offers you a better sense of the future and allows you to prepare for it.

Therefore, checking in on your time management priorities keeps you on track with your objectives and helps you to adjust to new ones.

8. Saying no.

Time is limited. Even in business, boundaries are necessary. You may feel pressured to say yes to every request, but you aren’t.

It’s essential to be aggressive, know your limitations, and avoid over-committing. Breach of obligations erodes confidence in relationships.

9. Feed your brain.

We frequently take our intellect for granted. Focus isn’t only a result of willpower. Our brains must be in tip-top shape.

You are taking pauses, sleeping enough, eating well, exercising regularly, and socializing to help executive function. If you’ve ever felt “hangry” or grumpy after a stormy night’s sleep, you’re not 100%.

However, when you’re irritable, you’re more likely to create problems at work and at home. Therefore, trying to work when you’re not at your best leads to poor work and mental misery.

10. Stop looking for motivation or inspiration.

You won’t get much done if you wait for inspiration to hit. Set a small objective to get started.

Focus sprints might help you finish challenging activities. Starting time management may inspire you even for five minutes. However, don’t ignore social media.

11. No such thing as time management multitasking.

Multitasking is a losing proposition. Constant interruptions degrade attention, reducing work completion.

Instead of jumping from activity to task, make a list of recurring charges and schedule them. However, it’s tough to resist multitasking when you’re not the only one working from home, but setting limits will pay you in the long term. However, always look for new time savers.

12. Plan your message check-ins.

You may believe checking every email, social media direct message, and phone contact are polite. Like multitasking, these random interruptions limit your capacity to accomplish serious work. Instead, schedule time to catch up on mail.

How Can I Better Manage My Time Management Needs was oringinally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine. Featured Image Credit: CottonBro; Pexels. Thank you!

How to Make Time for the Most Important Meal of the Day

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. People try something different, but the science keeps telling us breakfast is important.

We’ve all heard the advice before — “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” However, most of us laugh it off and do not take the notion seriously. And what about all of the intermittent fasting people? Is that a health fad that’s going to be a problem down the road for many people? So why would breakfast be more important than lunch or dinner?

Rush University Medical Center reports that the phrase actually stands true. Eating a healthy breakfast is an excellent start to your day. It can increase metabolism, improve your focus, and serve as a boost of vitamin and mineral intake. In addition, you’re less likely to be caught snacking throughout the day.

The Cleveland Clinic says that people who skip breakfast have a 55% higher chance of getting Type 2 diabetes. One reason you don’t want to skip breakfast is that eating a morning meal speeds up your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories throughout the day. So in other words, this means breakfast can actually keep you from gaining extra weight, provided you eat healthy meals.

Unfortunately, many adults say they skip breakfast simply because they can’t find the time in the mornings. However, you don’t need to have a fancy, sit-down breakfast every day. Even simple, on-the-go options can be nutritious.

So what can you do to make more time in the mornings for the most important meal of the day? Here are some tips to get the most out of your morning meal time.

1. Establish a morning routine.

Creating a morning routine is one of the most significant improvements you can make to your schedule. Adding some structure to the mornings can help you feel more rested, confident, and prepared for the day ahead. In fact, successful people are known to recommend a morning routine as a leading contributor to their success.

Start by figuring out the major tasks you need to complete in the early hours before work. Showering, getting dressed, and brushing your teeth should be priorities! If you like morning runs, make sure to configure that into your schedule.

Speaking of schedules, creating a to-do list for the mornings is a great way to keep yourself on task. You’re less likely to forget things or get distracted. Want a digital checklist? There is excellent scheduling software to choose from, and the ease of access will make you more likely to use it.

2. Meal prep is key.

Planning ahead is crucial if you want to maximize your time in the mornings. One way to do this is meal prepping. Sometimes it can be hard to wake up earlier to cook an excellent breakfast. But what if you didn’t have to get up extra early to have a nice meal?

Preparing your breakfast in advance can help with conserving your precious morning hours. You can prepare as much or as little ahead as you want. Depending on how much time you want to spend on cooking, you can choose to pre-cook elements of your meal. For example, you could cook bacon the night before and use it the next day in your omelet. Eggs are much faster to cook than bacon!

A great way to plan your morning meals ahead of time is to schedule your breakfasts. Decide what you will make on each day of the week. This way, you won’t have to decide in the mornings. As mentioned above, cook certain foods in advance so you can easily reheat them or incorporate them into more elaborate foods.

Meal prepping is also perfect for helping you eat healthier. You eat better when you’re not rushed in the mornings and grab your breakfast on the way out the door. Have you always wanted to make a fruit smoothie but never had the time? Make one the night before! Using fruits like bananas and strawberries are excellent sources of vitamins, and adding protein powder is perfect to keep you full and energized.

3. Go to bed earlier.

Benjamin Franklin knew what he was talking about when he said: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But seriously, how can you expect to be ready to go in the mornings if you stay up past midnight?

Creating a healthy sleep schedule is necessary for waking up feeling refreshed. The Mayo Clinic says adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. So make sure you’re treating your body right by getting enough hours.

What if you’re so used to going to sleep late? There are many tips out there to help your body adjust to an earlier bedtime. These could include using lavender essential oils or engaging in a relaxing activity, like listening to calming music.

Without proper sleep, you can’t expect to feel great naturally when you wake up. So get to bed earlier and make time for a yummy breakfast!

4. Use a slow cooker.

Slow cookers are fantastic tools for making low-effort yet delicious meals. They do all the cooking for you while you sit back and relax. Or, maybe while you’re at work. Most people use them for dinner, but why not use them for breakfast?

Most slow cooker recipes require the food to cook anywhere from four to eight hours, which means you can cook breakfast overnight. This takes time off your hands in the mornings. Instead of making your meal when you wake up, all you’ll need to do is dish up your plate!

There are many slow cooker breakfast recipes out there to try. From breakfast casseroles, to oatmeal, to cinnamon rolls, there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy. Not to mention, slow cookers can be purchased at a relatively low price. This is a great way to schedule your meals while also freeing up more of your time in the morning.

5. Do all you can the night before.

Another way to give yourself more wiggle room in the A.M. is to prepare your tasks in advance. It’s like meal prepping, but instead, you’re prepping yourself!

Pick out your outfit the night before. Set out any products you use to groom yourself (deodorant, hairspray, etc.). Prepare any work-related items that you’ll need for the next day. For example, if you’re a teacher, this could mean printing out worksheets or grading papers.

In other words, organizing your home in ways that make it easier to grab what you need in the morning is an excellent idea. Knowing exactly where everything is and having things visually laid out means you’re less likely to forget something you need. Additionally, you’re less likely to feel rushed, and therefore stressed, while getting ready.

Don’t rush yourself.

Remember, scheduling your mornings to be more efficient means you should be taking away from your stress. Planning shouldn’t feel like a nightmare. Make things easier, not harder, on yourself. Try out different routines until you find one that feels best.

Make sure you’re scheduling time for a nutritious morning meal. Even if you prepare ahead of time, without a good schedule, there might not be time to sit down and eat. You don’t want to have to scarf down that delicious breakfast in the car without being able to enjoy it.

Most importantly, don’t rush in the mornings. This adds stress to your life, and you want to eliminate it as much as possible. Mornings shouldn’t have to be hectic. Make that to-do list. Scramble those eggs before bed to reheat in the morning. Schedule your time wisely. After all, the first step toward success is enjoying the day’s most important meal.

How to Make Time for the Most Important Meal of the Day was originally published on Calendar by Angela Ruth. Featured Image Credit: Photo by Daria Shevtsova; Pexels; Thank you!

The Key to a Strong Morning Routine Starts at Night

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Your Morning Routine Starts at Night

Not everyone is a morning person. There are many reasons why this might be the case. However, it shouldn’t become a scapegoat for a sorry attitude and lack of productivity each morning. We can all do a little more to make our mornings manageable.

Many so-called “morning people” have found success through daily routines. The routine gets them into a groove that makes starting each day simple and easy. Developing your own daily routine can help you become more of a morning person or at least less of a morning monster.

The important thing to note here is that a strong morning routine doesn’t begin with the sound of an alarm clock. If you want each morning to be successful, you need to start things off the right way the night before. Here are just some of the things you should be doing at night and why they can help you have a great morning.

Stop Staying Up

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” While you won’t wake up with a couple of extra IQ points this way, this saying bears a lot of truth. With a regular job, you can’t control when you have to wake up in the morning. What you do have control over is when you get to bed.

The average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you’re constantly waking up at 6:30 in the morning, that means you should be sound asleep by 11:30 P.M. To accomplish that, you might need to be in bed with the lights out by 11. Your evening routine should accommodate that timeline.

Try to estimate how long your nightly routine will take. You shouldn’t begin winding down at the time you wish you were asleep; it should start much earlier. You can even time your desired nightly routine to ensure you’re ready for bed in time to get enough sleep.

Turn Off Your Devices

Putting your phone away at night takes a lot of self-control. Admittedly, scrolling through funny videos while lying in bed can be pretty enjoyable. But, unfortunately, late-night screen time can ruin your morning routine before it even begins.

For starters, you can easily get sucked into social media and stay up much later than you originally intended. The later you are awake, the fewer hours of sleep you get. The fewer hours of sleep you get, the harder it will be to wake up in the morning. Feeling grumpy and sluggish in the morning will push your routine all over the place.

The second reason being on your phone at night is terrible for you is because of the blue light. This light, emitted by electronic screens, has been linked to increased rates of attention and reaction times. This is all well and good during the day, but it can get you wired up at night. An extra attentive brain is not going to settle down easily.

Watch What You Eat

If you usually eat an early dinner, right before bed is when you’re going to feel a little snackish. This can be dangerous if not handled properly. Late-night snacking can be bad for your health and your sleep schedule, making it more challenging to begin the next day on the right foot.

Your body doesn’t process food as well while you’re sleeping. So instead of burning calories through regular activity, you’ll store more fat and gain weight more quickly. This can also disturb your circadian rhythm, which is the natural way your body falls asleep and wakes up each day.

What you consume is just as important as when you do. For example, drinking caffeine or alcohol late at night can make it difficult to fall asleep and get enough rest for the following day. Food with high sugar content can also cause some issues, even if they are delicious.

Some foods and beverages are actually suitable for consumption before bed. Cherries, for example, have natural melatonin. Likewise, a cup of tea before bed can help you to relax as long as it doesn’t also contain caffeine.

Plan Ahead

Have you ever lay awake in bed stressing over the events of tomorrow? Unfortunately, this exercise doesn’t usually end up being all that productive. Instead of repeatedly experiencing an existential crisis each night, you should incorporate some planning into your nightly routine. This will help you follow a consistent sleep schedule and set the stage for a solid morning routine.

There are quite a few things you can do at night that make mornings easier. You can pick your outfit for the next day and have it ready and waiting. Pack up anything you’ll need for school or work, so you don’t forget something important during a morning scramble.

You can also go over your schedule for the following day. Got a meeting planned for the first thing in the morning? Get it confirmed the evening prior. A simple confirmation can put your mind at ease and allow you to drift into slumber free from worry.

Fall Into a Routine

Keeping a consistent schedule is perhaps more critical than when you go to bed and wake up each day. Your body cannot adjust to a sporadic sleep schedule. You won’t feel as rested when you wake up at different times each day on varying hours of sleep.

This is an essential point for those who operate on schedules that stray from the norm. Those who work nights, for instance, can’t be expected to wake up at 6 A.M. when that’s the end of their shift. Instead, these individuals will benefit significantly from a consistent sleep schedule that fits their needs.

After a few days, you can start to adjust your own circadian rhythms. Even though you’re working through the night or following another irregular schedule, you can feel awake and refreshed every day. Routines can also help you quickly adjust to different time zones while traveling for business or leisure.

Work on Your Timing

There are plenty of beneficial activities. Sometimes the problem lies in the timing of it all. Moving some activities from night to morning, or vice versa is a small yet simple way to make a huge impact.

Exercise is a prime example. Getting proper daily exercise is vital for your health. However, exercise right before bed can pump your body with adrenaline, making it difficult to fall asleep. So switch that routine to the morning instead, and you’ll wake up your body for the day.

Evening exercise, on the other hand, may be the best of both worlds. It’s early enough that you still have time to calm down for nighttime. You’ll also burn some extra energy, so by the time bedtime actually rolls around; you’ll be sincerely tired. It’s all in the timing.

Consistency cannot be understated when it comes to any one of these takeaways. If you don’t stick with a plan for long, you won’t reap the benefits. Craft a strategy using this guide and plot your progress over a month. You should begin to see how evening and morning routines start to help you feel progressively better.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Maria Tyutina; Pexels; Thank you!

The Key to a Strong Morning Routine Starts at Night was originally published on Calendar.com by Max Palmer.

How to Make Remote Team Meetings Shorter and Better

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remote team meetings

Virtual team meetings are essential for remote team collaboration and productivity: they serve as a venue for aligning on shared goals. And, yes — it’s a venue. The team needs to understand that this virtual meeting spot is your hangout, your space, your place, and your venue. This information tells them — we meet here; we belong here.

It doesn’t take much to undermine the magic when team meetings don’t work.

Meetings with no purpose or organization are not only a waste of time, but they also stifle employee productivity and irritate employees. It’s no surprise that many people find meetings inconvenient, boring, useless, and just too frequent.

Do you want your employees to feel that way about your meetings? You want your team to be happy, productive, and active in their work community.

So here we are, with some practical suggestions for doing shorter, more productive meetings while avoiding the common pitfalls of remote work. You want high performance.

1. Should we meet, or should we not meet?

Nobody likes to waste their time in ineffective meetings; therefore, first and foremost:

Consider if you really need a meeting or whether you can get the same outcome with a different approach.

Is it feasible to send an email or a short video message summarizing the significant points of your meeting?

Can you address your problem at the next meeting if your team has recurring sessions to address any changes or impediments?

Avoid the temptation to “invite everyone just in case” and instead focus on the most critical attendees to the meeting’s success.

2. Hold meetings that will benefit your whole team.

According to recent research, 42% of remote workers felt “more productive” after working uninterrupted for an extended period. Conversely, getting everyone in the exact virtual location without disturbing production might be challenging, especially if you’re working with a remote team that spans many time zones.

Before agreeing on a time for your meeting, check calendars to see what people’s working hours are.

Instead of spreading meetings throughout the day, consider grouping them together to create large windows of uninterrupted work time.

Avoid scheduling a lot of emergencies or unexpected meetings since they may cause an employee’s regular workday to crash.

Encourage members of your team to keep track of their own schedules.

As a consequence, meeting planners will have a better understanding of the best days and times for everyone.

3. Make a thorough team meeting strategy.

Setting a clear agenda for each virtual meeting that includes the following things is critical:

In addition, there is a time restriction for each component and crucial talking points.

Attendants

Each team member participates in the meeting according to your expectations.

Any relevant documents

Aside from questions and answers or debate,

Set a meeting time limit and stick to it — you want your meetings to be as productive as possible!

Everyone can prepare if the plan is shared ahead of time.

4. Keep everyone’s attention.

All of the components we’ve described are necessary for a virtual meeting to take place.

But now comes the tricky part: keeping the team engaged throughout the meeting.

You have to work twice as hard to produce realistic, in-person conversations in a virtual environment since you don’t have all of them in an office setting.

Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting checking in with everyone, keeping up with what is happening, or just discussing the most recent series everyone is talking about.

This will strengthen your team’s culture while also fostering an open and welcoming atmosphere.

Also, remember that remote collaboration may be more difficult or stressful than face-to-face collaboration.

According to studies, Microsoft observed that brainwave indications associated with overwork and stress are much higher in video meetings than in non-meeting work.

In a virtual conference, participants must maintain regular eye contact with the screen to extract essential information and stay engaged. Unfortunately, there are few nonverbal cues to assist them in reading the room or knowing when it’s their turn to speak.

To keep your team’s attention and ensure that everyone on the team has a role, try to break up long meetings with little breaks every thirty minutes.

Passive listeners are prone to be bored or distracted, but giving them a role may help them feel like they’re a part of the action.

Who will be taking notes, for example?

Who is in charge of the follow-up?

5. Have a specific team meeting aim in mind before you leave.

Never leave a meeting without clearly conveying your intention and verifying that your meeting objectives were satisfied.

Everyone should walk away from a meeting knowing all there is to know on the following topics:

  • What are your plans for the future?
  • Who is responsible for each task?
  • When is each assignment due?
  • When will the next meeting be held?

Finally, keep track of your peeps after the meeting so that everyone on your team knows who is working on what and how it is developing.

And — really (bosses) — think about butting out of the meeting at the end and let your virtual team and your office team have a few minutes to chat together — without you sitting there observing.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Artem Podrez; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Make Remote Team Meetings Shorter and Better was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

Practicing Purposeful Productivity

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purposeful productivity

Would you like to be more productive? Of course, you want to be more productive! But we want to find a better way to be more productive — and that’s called Purposeful Productivity, and likely why you’re currently reading this article.

Sure. You can devour the countless books and hacks out there that promise you’ll be more productive — we all do — and these are pretty helpful and motivational. However, even the best productivity advice won’t matter if you don’t know your purpose. As Rachel Hollis ideally put it, “Productivity is not time management, it’s purpose management.”

But, how can you practice purposeful productivity? Well, here are some tips to get you on your way.

Know Your Values

“As humans, we are most fulfilled when we enact our values,” notes Mei Burgin, Vice President of Professional Services at Opus One Solutions from GE Digital. “Weeks and months fly by, and you may feel like you haven’t accomplished anything meaningful.” Learning what drives you can help you spend your time more productively.

At the same time, everyone has their own set of values. For Mei, her top values are:

  • Positive Attitude
  • Connecting & Bonding
  • Concern for Others
  • Forward Action
  • Personal Growth/Learning
  • Courage
  • Discovery
  • Truth
  • Joy
  • Fulfillment

You might find it helpful to reflect on a few activities or experiences in your life (both personal and professional) that have provided you with high or low energy.

Questions for reflection:

  • Which aspects were high (or low)?
  • What values were reflected in this experience?
  • Describe the experience you had and how your choices or actions contributed to it.
  • During this experience, what were you truly seeking?

You can make critical decisions in life and your career more effectively if you know what drives you and what drives your values.

Identify Your MVPs (Most Value Priorities)

Prioritizing tasks is the cornerstone to becoming more purposeful and productive. At the same time, this varies from person to person based on factors like values and goals. Regardless, prioritizing boils down to being able to distinguish between important and urgent tasks.

However, according to experts, the most important tasks are not the most critical. ‌‌Despite this, we are prone to prioritizing urgent tasks.

You can use the Covey Time Management Matrix if you struggle to identify your priorities.

Using this framework, you can organize your tasks and achieve maximum productivity. ‌‌This model was devised by Steven Covey, the author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” and popularized by Dwight Eisenhower. By categorizing your tasks, responsibilities, and life in this way, you can organize your life accordingly:

  • Urgency. Tasks or responsibilities that require immediate attention.
  • Importance. ‌‌High-priority, worthwhile goals.

There are four quadrants, each with a distinct property, that you can use to prioritize your tasks and responsibilities. ‌‌The four quadrants are as follows:

  • First Quadrant: Urgent and important
  • Second Quadrant: Not urgent but important
  • Third Quadrant: Urgent but not important
  • Fourth Quadrant: Not urgent and not important

Despite urgent and vital tasks needing to be completed, Covey recommends spending less time on things that are not as important. You will be less likely to get distracted by urgent tasks when you focus on these essential activities.

Creating a “to-do” list, whether on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, is a great way to prioritize. ‌‌Just be sure not to overdo it with the list-making. ‌‌You should list manageable tasks rather than long-term goals or multi-step plans. ‌‌Put your “to-do” list on your calendar and rank it by priority.

Whenever your priorities change, reevaluate your list and delegate things that no longer need to be done.

Rethink Your To-Do-List

“Time is precious, and you should value how you spend it,” Katrina Ruth, founder and CEO of “The Katrina Ruth Show,” writes in Entrepreneur. “If you don’t decide what matters in advance, you’ll spend it all doing things that aren’t moving you forward.”

“I constantly outline my goals and dreams in a document called ‘Creating the life I want,’” adds Ruth. “I make sure I set those goals for myself (not others), identify the actions that will get me there, and schedule them each week.”

Next year, picture yourself living a purposeful life. Is today’s to-do list essential? Does that explain how you arrived there? Then, decide if you want to delete, do, or delegate the items on your list, Ruth suggests. “Sometimes it’s worth paying someone else to do things so that you can focus on what really matters: the tasks that will get you where you want to go if you do them every day.”

Conduct a Time Audit

“For the next couple of weeks, keep a time log,” recommends Abby Miller in a previous Calendar article. This doesn’t require too much thought. Make a note of how you spend your time using a pen and notebook.

Let’s say that you commute daily to work. Jot down the length and how you spend that time. If you take public transportation, do you respond to emails or kill some time scrolling through social media?

By tracking your time, you’ll be able to realistically block out time and avoid overestimating or underestimating how long something takes. You’ll also be able to pinpoint interruptions, meet deadlines, and determine your biological prime time.

“It also allows you to see where you’re wasting,” Abby adds. “For example, you spend downtime, like on your commute or when waiting for an appointment, catching up on the latest Twitter feud or whether or not Spider-Man will appear in the MCU again.” You could have instead cleaned out your inbox, read a book, or prepared for the day ahead.

Aside from the good ol’ pen and paper method, there are several electronic time-tracking programs such as Toggl, RescueTime, and Timely.

Work in Sprints

“There’s a fundamental misunderstanding about how human beings operate at their best,” says Tony Schwartz, author of the best-seller Be Excellent at Anything. “Most of us mistakenly assume we’re meant to run like computers—at high speeds, continuously, for long periods, running multiple programs simultaneously.”

This isn’t true at all. Instead, we are designed to be rhythmic creatures.

“The heart pulses; muscles contract and relax,” Schwartz explains. “We’re at our best when we’re moving rhythmically between spending energy and renewing it.”

Athletes, who balance work and rest, provide valuable insight into this. “We encourage people to work intensely for 90 minutes and then take a break to recover,” he adds. We also suggest eating small, energy-dense meals every few hours rather than three big meals a day.

“We believe napping drives productivity, although that remains a tough sell in most companies,” Schwartz adds. “Still, the reality is that if a person works continuously all through the day, she’ll produce less than a person of equal talent who works intensely for short periods and then recovers before working intensely again.”

Adopt a Single-Tasking Strategy

According to research, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.” Therefore, multitasking is one of the most detrimental habits to productivity. It’s primarily because constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits.

But why do we constantly do this to ourselves? Our reward hormone, dopamine, is released when we accomplish even the most mundane task. Since we love that dopamine, our brains encourage us to switch between small mini-tasks that give us instant satisfaction.

Doing this creates a feedback loop that makes us feel like we are accomplishing a lot. But, when in fact, we aren’t. Thankfully, there is a simple way to break this multitasking addiction. First, concentrate on one task at a time. Then, you should only move on to the next task after you’ve completed the previous one.

Additionally, single-tasking motivates you to pay attention to your priorities and reduces stress.

Do Things More Masterfully

Here are a few other hints I’ve found useful, by Andy Springer, in Entrepreneur Magazine — 36 Insanely Useful Productivity Hacks.

“Essentially, this step is about going from what’s called ‘Unconscious Incompetence’ to something called ‘Unconscious Competence,’” states Michelle McClintock, aka the Mindset Mentor.

“In short, that means we go from not knowing how little we know about something to knowing it so well that we don’t even have to think about doing it skillfully,” explains McClintock

“For me, this started when I decided productivity was sexy and that mastering it could change my life,” she adds. “Someone challenged me to believe that my happiness, fulfillment, and success depended on it, just as I am doing with you right now…”

As a result, McClintock began to take it seriously. Her goal was to excel at being truly productive by learning everything she could. “By no means have I mastered productivity, but I’m getting better at it all the time — and if I can, then so can you!”

As you figure this out, you will have to make some sacrifices up front. But that effort will save you so much time in the long run.

Among the ways McClintock is becoming more masterful are:

  • Spending 45 minutes focused on “deep work.”
  • Setting a Pomodoro timer for focused sessions.
  • Limiting all distractions when working.
  • Take regular mini-breaks.
  • Getting more sleep.
  • Practicing meditation more often.
  • Exercising.
  • During breaks, McClintock likes to watch comedy.

“All these things are science-backed ways to get more done and still maintain energy, focus, and joy,” she says.

Find Your Ikigai

Ikigai, or the reason behind being, is a Japanese concept. If you’re a Simon Sinek fan, your reason is your “why.”

In Japanese culture, everyone has an ikigai. To find out what that is for you, you just have to determine what it is. You might think that’s impossible if you’re in a rut. However, the process is relatively straightforward. A person’s passion, mission, vocation, and profession are the four primary elements of ikigai.

To get started, take a piece of paper and draw four circles. Your first circle should be devoted to what you love. The second circle is where you would record your strengths. Put your beliefs into the third circle. Finally, in the fourth circle, discuss your methods of getting paid – or how you might get paid.

What overlaps in the center is what keeps you awake in the morning. Keep that in mind as you make a productivity plan.

Before Saying “Yes,” Pause

When you pause for a moment, you have the opportunity to assess what is happening by asking questions like;

  • Would you consider this a request? Is it just a suggestion?
  • What’s the cost of saying “yes.”
  • Is this going to help me achieve my goals or serve my mission?
  • Should I make this a priority?
  • Is there an alternative? For example, instead of meeting, a quick Slack chat.

When you practice this, you usually calm your anxious thoughts and prevent yourself from trying to please everyone. But, more importantly, it prevents you from overcommitting and wasting any valuable time.

Leave Some Gaps in Your Calendar

People believe that keeping a zero-based calendar will make them more productive. I can see why that makes sense. When your calendar is booked, you know exactly where and how you’ll spend your time. In addition, it makes saying no easier. There’s nothing you can do if you’re not available except decline the request – or suggest another time.

However, life does not always go as planned. Therefore, you should leave some room on your calendar for blank spaces.

Let’s say you leave 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. open. This block can then be used to put out fires if they occur. Additionally, you can get ahead of your list if you do not need to be a firefighter. If you want to take a break, you can do so as well.

Be a Quitter

Do you think that high performers are the types of individuals who never quit? That’s not true. Winners do quit all the time, says Seth Godin. “They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

Quitting strategically means saying no to things you shouldn’t do — or don’t want to do. This could be anything from takes that could be automated, pointless meetings, or nasty habits like procrastination. It also involves delegating tasks more efficiently and cost-effectively to others.

Schedule Daily Check-Ins

By checking in with yourself each day, you will be able to find out how you are doing. Here, you can sort through your emotions, assess your physical and emotional needs, and make an intentional plan for addressing them.

Moreover, you can reflect on the day to see what you accomplished and what you didn’t. As a result, this encourages you to repeat positive behavior and make the appropriate adjustments moving forward.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

Practicing Purposeful Productivity was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

How to Run Appointments Effectively and Efficiently

By | Appointment, Time Management | No Comments
run appointments effectively

Appointments are inevitable. Whether it’s to get the oil changed in your car or get a cavity looked at, everyone is going to end up with an appointment or two on their calendar. While many services require an appointment, that doesn’t mean people enjoy spending all day in one.

If you’re operating an appointment-based business, it’s vital that you learn to respect your customers’ time. You should have two underlying goals in mind. Your appointments should be efficient, getting customers in and out as quickly as possible. On top of that, your appointments should be effective. The decreased duration shouldn’t come at the price of quality.

So how does one accomplish this feat? A lot will depend on the operations that are specific to your business. However, there are a few universal tips and tricks you can implement to make some improvements. Consider the following:

Enable Self-Scheduling

Appointments don’t necessarily start at your place of business. An appointment begins as soon as a customer starts the booking process. Traditionally, this involves calling a representative and listening to the available options over the phone. There’s a much easier and more efficient way of doing this in 2022.

All you have to do is enable self-scheduling. Put a calendar up on your website that shows which appointment slots are available for the coming weeks. All a prospective client has to do is click on the availability they want and reserve it for themselves.

This helps appointments run more smoothly in two ways. First, the initial booking process takes a lot less time by cutting out the middleman. Second, the middleman doesn’t have to be on the phone so often. They are now free to help move things along at your place of business instead of being tied to a phone line.

Start Check-In Early

The sooner you can get an appointment going, the quicker you can get it completed. Customers don’t want to spend all day at an appointment, and you want to service as many clients as possible. You can speed up the entire process by starting the check-in process early.

Try to accomplish as much as possible before a customer even arrives at your front desk. You can have customers fill out an online questionnaire for information pertinent to an upcoming appointment. Store that information in a customer portal, and check-ins will continue to speed up.

Part of appointment booking can overlap with check-in necessities. You can include some questions in your booking process that can check off some of the boxes required for check-in. Even a single piece of information can help get the ball rolling.

Invest in Employees

You can get a lot of mileage out of your business simply by investing in your employees. In particular, you should consider buying into training programs that can help your workers become more efficient. If your team is running efficiently, so will your appointments.

Training time should always be on your dollar. Provide all of the necessary resources to your employees and compensate them for the time they spend in training. This way they will be able to focus on training properly and apply it to their role immediately.

You should also invest in the mental and emotional wellbeing of your employees. Happy workers tend to work harder. Help them achieve a proper work-life balance and provide adequate working conditions for them. You should see key appointment metrics rise just by doing that alone.

Use Appointment Software

A lot of inefficiencies come from operator errors. A secretary can write down the wrong time for an appointment by accident, or a customer can accidentally book two appointments when they only needed one. While small, these errors can derail an entire day of appointments if left unchecked. You can avoid common mishaps by using appointment software.

Online appointment software takes care of so many factors. This is the type of program that will make self check-ins and self-scheduling not only possible, but simple and easy. Many appointment software programs are also customizable. You can pick the features and layouts that best fit your needs.

When you try online appointment software for the first time, you’ll have a harder time finding a need that isn’t filled. You can set up online payments, send custom reminders, and explore integrations. These tools will have your appointments running more effectively and efficiently than ever.

Ask yourself how you would like an appointment to be run if you were the customer. It could be as simple as wanting online booking. Perhaps businesses that do have online booking have check-in processes that are way too long. Whatever it is that you think works best, those are the aspects you should apply to your own business. Your customers will thank you for it.

Image Credit: Pavel Danilyuk; Pexels; Thanks!

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