Category Archives: Time Management

It’s OK to Take a Break — Even if You’re an Entrepreneur

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It's OK to Take a Break-Even if You're an Entrepreneur

There seems to be a serious epidemic among entrepreneurs. Whether you’re a rookie or seasoned vet, there’s a mentality that we have to work more than 40 hours per week. There are times when that’s the case. Let’s say that you’re launching a new product or service. You should definitely expect to be putting in extra time at work until it’s complete. But what about the rest of the time? Hey, it’s okay to take a break, even if you’re an entrepreneur

Elon Musk has said that he works a staggering 120-hours per week. Gary Vaynerchuk has suggested you put in 18-hour days. And, Grant Cardone has said that if you want to become a millionaire, you need to work 95 hours per week or 14-hours per day.

From the outside, that just sounds ridiculous. However, that doesn’t always mean that these entrepreneurs are working 10-14 hours straight — every single day. However, with the individuals I work with — that’s precisely what they mean. Day in and day out, for years — they work this many hours or more. I know from my own experience that with a business — it’s hard to tune out and leave it alone. And when you try to tune out — you’re still thinking about the business.

Some entrepreneurs put in more hours without stopping — and they can’t help themselves. It’s not healthy mentally or physically and, many studies now show that it’s not as good for your business as you may think.

In an open letter to Musk, Arianna Huffington wrote, “Working 120-hour weeks doesn’t leverage your unique qualities, it wastes them. You can’t simply power through — that’s just not how our bodies and our brains work.” She added, “Nobody knows better than you that we can’t get to Mars by ignoring the laws of physics. Nor can we get where we want to go by ignoring scientific laws in our daily lives.”

I learned the consequences of ignoring the laws of psychology, if not physics, the hard way. While I wasn’t working 120-hour weeks, I was consistently doing 80 hours. I was spending way too much time at work. As a result, my health was no longer a priority. Relationships with coworkers, friends, and family became strained, and I teetered on the edge of burnout.

Still believing that an entrepreneur has to work more hours to be successful — you can do that work differently. Finally, admit to yourself taking breaks is essential. Take a moment to think logically, with a different thought process. You’ll want to take breaks for the following reasons.

It’s good for your brain.

As Meg Selig points out in Psychology Today, research shows that taking breaks helps your brain in the following ways:

  • “Movement breaks” are essential for your well-being.
    Considering that there’s a mental health crisis in entrepreneurship, this may be the key. Getting up from your desk and moving, even if it’s just a “5-minute walk every hour, can improve your health and well-being.”
  • Breaks prevent decision fatigue.
    “Author S.J. Scott points out that the need to make frequent decisions throughout your day can wear down your willpower and reasoning ability.” Can you guess a simple way to combat this?
  • Breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals.
    “When we work, our prefrontal cortex makes every effort to help us execute our goals,” wrote author Nir Eyal. “But for a challenging task that requires our sustained attention, research shows briefly taking our minds off the goal can renew and strengthen motivation later on.”
  • Breaks increase creativity and productivity.
    “Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative,” notes Selig. “‘Aha moments’ came more often to those who took breaks, according to research.”
  • “Waking rest” helps consolidate memories and improve learning.
    Waking rest is, “resting while awake, likewise improves memory formation.” Meditation could be an example of waking rest.

Still not convinced? Well, taking breaks can also help you refocus your concentration. And, if you’re stuck on a problem, then taking a breather can help you come up with solutions faster.

“While it is commonly assumed that the best way to solve a difficult problem is to focus relentlessly — this clenched state of mind comes with a hidden cost. [The hidden cost] is that it inhibits the sort of creative connections that lead to breakthroughs,” writes Jonah Lehrer in Imagine: How Creativity Works. “We suppress the very type of brain activity that should be encouraged.”

Opportunity to gain fresh perspectives.

Regardless of how you define your break — take a break. Your break may be merely leaving the office to grab lunch with a friend, or it may be to disappear for a week-long vacation with your family. Stepping away from work exposes you to new things. I know it sounds cliche. But, it’s truth — and we need to know what the truth is for ourselves in our own situations.

Getting out of your workplace helps you develop new ideas. Maybe your break is bouncing feedback from your friend at lunch. Maybe when commuting back to work, you notice a new opportunity that can separate you from your competitors. Can traveling push you out of your comfort zone and give you a chance to have new experiences? Yes, it can. These type of breaks, also, prevent isolation.

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, and that can be a problem. After all, loneliness can lead to mental health struggles like depression, stress, and anxiety.

Taking a break allows you to interact with others. It could be walking around the workplace and checking-in with your team. While commuting to a meeting, you may strike up a conversation with a stranger. And, when you’re not obsessed with work, you can strengthen your relationships with your friends and family.

Reminds you of the bigger picture.

“When you’re focused on the minutiae of a complex task, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the bigger, more strategic picture,” writes Barry Chignel over on CIPHR. “Take a break, step back, and reassess your goals and priorities to make sure that you’re giving your attention to the right tasks and projects.”

“Being able to see this broader view is particularly important for managers,” adds Chignel. That’s because “they need to maintain their focus on strategic goals and not be distracted by process-driven tasks that could be delegated to other members of their team.”

Cultivates healthier habits.

Make no mistake about it. Working too much adds unnecessary stress to your life. As you already know, stress can lead to many symptoms that affect your health and well-being. But did you know that stress can also influence your habits?

Research has found that during times of stress, we fall back on our habits. That wouldn’t be so bad if you were falling back on healthy habits like exercising. But, what if it’s a bad habit like overeating, smoking, or binge drinking? Well, then, you have a reason for concern.

Frequent breaks not only reduce stress, but they also give you the time to indulge in healthy habits. Instead of eating fast food for lunch, you can enjoy a healthy meal because you’re taking a lunch break. In-between tasks, you can use that downtime to go for a walk or meditate. And, during the weekend or vacation, you can engage in a self-care activity.

How to take a break.

Despite the benefits listed above, entrepreneurs still struggle with taking breaks. So, I suggest taking it slow and easing your way into it.

The most obvious place to start would be working breaks into your daily schedule. I’ve found that you should track your time for around a month to determine when you’re most productive.

Thanks to ultradian rhythms, this is different for everyone. But, in most cases, we have energy peaks for about 60-90 minutes. You then experience an energy lull. Knowing this, you could plan your day by blocking out an hour for work and then scheduling a 10-to-20 minute break.

The caveat for you may be resisting the urge to take longer breaks. Keep your breaks short and use reminders to keep your schedule on-track. Also, make sure that you schedule a proper lunch break as well.

Another pointer would be to learn how to optimize your time. Use whatever trick works best for you. But, the idea here is to reduce your workload so that you have more flexibility in your schedule to take a breather.

And, establish boundaries. Creating and keeping boundaries means when you’re home and spending time with your family, give 100% of your attention to them. When you’re hiking or hanging out with friends on a Saturday, there are no answering work-related messages.

In short, leave work at work. I know. It’s going to take a lot of willpower. But, try it for a couple of hours and work your way up. You’ll notice that everything you built didn’t come crumbling down because you’re disconnected from work occasionally.

Eventually, when you’re comfortable — plan for larger breaks. I’m talking about the occasional day-off. I love to take a lengthy vacation — and work on the vacation, too. And I like to work on short vacations also. Will it be in our best interest to take a real break? Hey, most entrepreneurs will likely resist taking a real vacation at first. Should we try to make the “taking a vacation goal,” together? I’m up for it — if you are.

8 Morning Routine Hacks to Kick-Start Your Productivity

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Morning Routine Hacks

Morning choices can make or break your day. Should you check your phone or hop in the shower? Should you make coffee or prepare lunch? 

These and many other choices can be paralyzing. And by the time you make a decision, your day is already thrown off kilter. 

If that experience feels familiar, it’s a sign that you need to inject some structure into your mornings. A consistent morning routine is just the thing to set a productive tone for the rest of the day.

Creating a successful routine comes down to two things: picking the right activities, and ensuring you have enough time to tackle them. Here’s how to do it:

1. Wake up Early 

They say the early bird catches the worm. And judging by the fact that many successful people wake up well before the workday begins, there must be some truth in that saying. 

If you get up early, you have time to go about your morning routine without feeling rushed. That sense of peace allows you to do important things like reading the news or practicing self-care — things that usually get sidelined when you’re in a time crunch.

2. Turn on the Light 

Are you having trouble waking up to just your alarm clock? Instead of hitting the snooze button, try using light. Your eyes have light receptors that detect brightness. Light automatically sends your brain a message that it’s time to wake up. 

Try keeping the curtains open and waiting for the sun to rise each morning. If you need help getting up before sunrise, look into wake-up light alarm clocks.

Switching this environmental cue could help change your body’s natural clock. If you’re used to waking up late, it’s an easy way to rewire your brain for early rising. 

3. Avoid Screen Time 

According to an IDC report, 80% of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up. In fact, that’s the last thing you should be doing when you wake up. 

Smartphones are filled with distractions that can keep you in bed longer than you should be. They interfere with your productivity by wasting valuable time.

Keep your phone out of your bedroom. That forces you to get out of bed and start your day before you can look at it. If you find yourself looking at it too frequently during the day, get an app to limit your access to certain apps or lock you out entirely. 

4. Meditate Productively

Try productive meditation in the morning to problem-solve. Cal Newport introduces the concept in his book “Deep Work”: Productive meditation is a way to find solutions to your problems while commuting or doing something physical, such as brushing your teeth. 

When practicing this, focus on the questions that arise from your problems. When you let questions marinate in your mind, answers will naturally bubble up to the surface. The perk of productive meditating is that the solution often comes to you when you least expect it. 

5. Exercise

Experts say that morning is the best time to exercise. An invigorating morning workout boosts your energy levels, starts your metabolism, and burns fat. All of these benefits contribute to a feeling of accomplishment and increased levels of productivity. 

You could do it in your home, go out for a run, or hit the gym before heading to work. Whatever you decide, squeeze at least 15 minutes of activity into your morning.

6. Eat a Healthy Breakfast 

It’s easy to downplay the importance of breakfast, especially when so many breakfast foods are filled with sugar. In addition to skin- and weight-related benefits, a healthy breakfast improves your cognitive performance and gives you the energy you need to be productive. 

Say “no” to pancakes, donuts, and sugary cereals. Build your breakfasts with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

7. Set Daily Goals 

The happy feeling we get from accomplishing goals is priceless. But in order to accomplish goals, we need to be clear on what they are.

The morning is the perfect time to set your goals for the day. Write a realistic list of daily tasks, perhaps while you eat your healthy breakfast. Cross off items as you finish them during the day. 

Break down large tasks into smaller ones. For example, if you’re working on a 100-page business proposal, make it a goal to complete three pages per day, every day. Making steady progress encourages you to keep going when it gets tough.

8. Keep it Simple

There is so much that you can put in your morning routine. Don’t overdo it: Trying to do too much can be just as problematic as doing too little. 

It’s better to do a few things well than doing many things poorly. If you like to journal in the morning, great — but don’t expect to fit in exercise and a call to your mom, too. Keeping your routine simple helps you stay calm and focus on activities that actually matter to you.

Ultimately, your morning routine only needs to work for one person: you. Take what you need and leave the rest. Once you’ve found a routine that works for you, your morning becomes one less thing to worry about.

What are Your Top Productivity Strategies?

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Business professional sitting outside working on laptop next to spring flowers

When you think about it, most things in life are subjective. Your favorite color, food, band, or movie? They are your personal favorites — no matter what anyone else says. In other words, there’s no right or wrong answer. In a way, the same is true of productivity strategies. What makes a top productivity strategy for me may not fly with you. And, what works for Elon Musk, Oprah, or your best friend may not be a useful technique for you.

Like your favorite food or music — you want to share your favorites with others. Who knows? Maybe all the famous ones would agree with you? That’s why we’ve collected some of the top productivity strategies for you to implement. Hopefully, you can use them to boost your productivity.

But, if one way to productivity doesn’t work for you, then try out the next suggestion you hear about. Or, even better, make some adjustments and make it your own. You will find a strategy that will work for you. Just keep trying.

Stack your habits.

“You probably have powerful habits and connections that you take for granted each day,” James Clear writes in “Atomic Habits.” “For example, your brain is probably very efficient at remembering to take a shower each morning or to brew your morning cup of coffee or to open the blinds when the sun rises — or thousands of other daily habits.”

But, did you know that you can “take advantage of these strong connections to build new habits?” It’s possible with something called habit stacking.

Basically, this is where you “identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top.” And, you’ll use the following formula to achieve this: After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].

Here’s an example from Clear; “After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.” After meditating, you would write your to-do-list for the day. And, after that, you would begin working on your first task.

The key is to make sure that “the cue is highly specific and immediately actionable.” When it is, you’ll have clear goals that will add-up to small wins over time.

Stand on your (Eisenhower) soapbox.

A priority matrix is one of the most effective ways to prioritize your lists. In turn, this will make you more productive since it encourages you to focus only on what you need to get done. And, even better, it keeps distractions at bay by ensuring that you don’t fall into the urgency trap.

One of the most popular priority matrixes around is the Eisenhower Matix. I’ve written and spoken about this before. Named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and first supreme commander of NATO, this principle is extremely simple to do.

“Create a four-quadrant box and place all of the items on your list into one of the following quadrants,” explains Calendar’s Angela Ruth:

  • Urgent and important. Tasks that you will do immediately.
  • Important, but not urgent. Tasks that you’ll schedule for later.
  • Urgent, but not important. Anything that can be delegated to someone else.
  • Neither urgent or important. These should be eliminated from your list and schedule.

“If you have multiple items in the urgent and important box, assign each item a number,” says Angela. “For example, if you have a task that’s due to today, then that would be assigned the number one since that’s your main priority for the day.”

Get magically whisked away to 1918 with the Ivy Lee Method.

For over a century, this has been a popular productivity technique that’s helped people regain control of their schedules.

Named after Ivy Lee, a productivity consultant hired by leaders like Charles M. Schwab, this is a night routine that only takes 15-minutes. When your home is quiet, “jot down the five or six most important things you want to accomplish the next day.” Next, you’ll put them in order, “starting with the most important task first thing in the morning.”

“The Ivy Lee Method is so effective because by planning your day the night before, you reduce decision fatigue and reserve your energy for your most meaningful work. You wake up knowing exactly what you’ll be working all day instead of wasting valuable time and energy making decisions in the morning.”

Write over 40-books using this 15-minute morning routine.

Anthony Trollope is a fascinating historical figure. From 1843 to 1883, he wrote 47 novels, 17 non-fiction books, two plays, and over 20 articles and letters. What makes this even more impressive? He did this while holding down a full-time job as a post office inspector.

So, how was he able to achieve such a feat?

Well, he had a dedicated morning routine that supercharged his productivity.

“It was my practice to be at my table every morning at 5.30 A.M., and it was also my practice to allow myself no mercy,” Trollope noted his Autobiography. “It had at this time become my custom, and is still my custom, though of late I have become a little lenient of myself, to write with my watch before me, and to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour.”

“This division of time allowed me to produce over ten pages of an ordinary novel volume a day, and if kept up through ten months, would have given as its results, three novels of three volumes each in the year.”

So, let’s break this down.

Because he already had a packed schedule, Trollope had to get creative by finding any possible free time. That meant waking up early and writing before going to work.

Next, he had to make sure that he didn’t waste any of this valuable time. He accomplished this through timed writing sessions. It’s similar to the Pomodoro Technique, where he only concentrated on writing for specific amounts of time — aka, no multitasking.

Finally, Trollope also tracked his progress. He was known for keeping track of how many pages he wrote each day to keep the momentum going.

As Trollope himself discovered, “A small daily task — if it be really daily, — will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.”

Adhere to the Five Project Rule.

Throughout my life, I’ve known so many people who are always jumping from one thing to the next. The problem isn’t that they aren’t motivated or driven. It’s just that they never finish what they started.

“If you’re always starting interesting projects and not finishing, then no matter how hard you work, you’re just busy, not productive.”

It’s true. You may have learned some things along the way. But, you don’t get that release of dopamine when you finish something. That may not sound like much, but when you feel good and proud of your finished result, you want to keep repeating that behavior.

Additionally, there’s the Zeigarnik Effect. In a nutshell, this refers to “the tendency to better remember unfinished tasks than completed ones.” As such, this creates cognitive tension where uncompleted tasks stay on the top of your mind until finished.

While that can be used to your advantage, like overcoming procrastination, it can also be a distraction. Besides, at some point, you may have to circle back to this unfinished project. And that can be a waste of time and energy. It’s pretty great always to finish what you start.

A simple way to start finishing what matters is to use the “Five Project Rule.” It’s a concept described by Charlie Gilkey in “Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done.”

“You will never be able to do all the things you think you might want to do,” Gilkey told John Lee Dumas. “And that’s just part of being human. But when you accept that fact, you can get down to three to five active projects.

“Active projects are the ones that you’re pushing for,” says Gilkey. “You’re working them. They’re on your virtual or physical desktop. You’re touching them daily.”

Adopt an A/B schedule.

As Andee Love explains in a Fast Company article, this is where you divide your “schedule between ‘A’ and ‘B’ weeks for different types of work.” The reason why this is effective is that it keeps you energized since it lowers the cost of context switching.

If that’s something you would be interested in, then here’s how to get started:

  • Examine your current schedule. “Look closely at how many hours you’re spending on each task, or the role your work demands,” writes Love. “Then imagine what it would look and feel like if you put each into its own block, day or week.” For example, could you schedule all of your meetings in one or two days per week?
  • Communicate. Once you’ve blocked out your time, let others know. Personally, the easiest way to do this is by sharing your calendar. Remember, if someone wants to meet with you, for example, they’ll see this is only an option on select days.
  • Tinker. Play around with your new schedule until it works for you.
  • Keep your health in mind. Don’t forget to “build adequate rest breaks, movement, and time for healthy eating into your schedule.”

Pop from location to location.

Here we have a productivity hack from Joel Runyon on Impossible HQ. It’s called ‘Workplace Popcorn,” and it goes like this:

  • List everything that you need to do today. Be as specific as possible.
  • Break that list into three equal sections. “These sections should be equal in terms of how much time they’re likely to take to complete,” writes Runyon. “If you’re not sure how long a task will take, guess.”
  • Here’s where the popcorn fits in — find three different places to work. So, for your first list of tasks, you would work from home. You would “pop” over to a coworking space for the second list. And, for the third list, you could work from a cafe.

Follow the Law of Least Effort.

Are you sitting down for this? Long hours don’t make you more productive. According to a Stanford study, productivity declines after someone has worked for more than 50 hours. It’s such a dropoff that putting in more hours would be pointless.

“Busyness is not a means to accomplishment, but an obstacle to it,” writes Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a Stanford scholar and author of “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.” That’s because we often define ourselves by our “work, dedication, effectiveness, and willingness to go the extra mile,” so working less is often viewed as a barrier to success.

I know. Getting more done by doing less may sound like a pipe dream. But it’s possible. One such way to achieve this is adopting a spiritual law of success known as the Law of Least Effort.

Kabir Sehgal and Deepak Chopra explain in a CNBC article that this “law is based on the idea that nature’s intelligence functions with the effortless ease of action and without resistance.” And, it’s easy to incorporate into your life:

  • Accept your current situation. It’s a simple way to stop “reacting to the events around you and instead encourages you to simply acknowledge them” and stay in the present.
  • Take accountability for your current situation. Don’t point fingers or let negativity drag you down. Admit your mistakes, learn from them, and grow.
  • Detach yourself from ‘who gets the credit.’ Stop getting caught up in nonsense that throws you off track. Instead, “focus on the items that truly matter and give meaning.”

Tap into the power of solitude.

“It’s important to spend time around people,” writes Amy Morin. “You can improve your habits and learn new things when you’re surrounded by interesting people.” And, as found in the popular 80-year Harvard study, relationships help us live longer and make us happier.

However, spending too much time around people “might also be a bad thing,” states Morin. “Our digital devices often make us feel like we need to be connected 24/7.” And, even worse, “all of the noise, activity, and hustle can wear you out (and ironically can leave you feeling lonelier than ever).”

That’s why despite getting a bad rap, we should occasionally embrace solitude. In addition to being “an essential component to your health and well-being,” spending time alone can make you more successful by:

  • Helping you get to know yourself better.
  • Breaking down “we vs. them” mentality, which can improve relationships.
  • Being alone fosters creativity.
  • Improving your psychological well-being.
  • Allows you to plan your life.

Additionally, in “Time Management,” written by Fabien Weisberg, solitude, can “help you become better at managing your time effectively.” The reason? “Being alone is when you need to figure out what you need and want to do.”

Does this mean that you have to go off the grid and disappear for an extended period? Nope. “Just 10 minutes of alone time each day could be enough to help you rejuvenate from the daily grind,” writes Morin. Too bust for this simple activity? Then block out some alone time in your calendar in advance like you would with an appointment or meeting.

During this time you could go for a walk, meditate, or sit quietly in your office. Just remember to “silence your electronics and allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts.”

Do you have a favorite productivity strategy? Let us know all about it!

9 Tips to Have a Productive Meeting Every Time

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Without warning, your manager calls a status update meeting. You groan, put your stuff down, and shuffle off to the conference room.

The meeting starts off well, but then it goes down a rabbit hole. Your manager can’t seem to follow the agenda and keeps going on tangents. On top of that, you have a deadline to meet in an hour. That’s when you start questioning why this meeting was called in the first place. 

In the U.S., unproductive meetings cost an estimated $399 billion each year. They not only waste money but also irritate team members and slow the pace of work.

Making meetings productive and efficient is a business imperative. Here are some ways to make the most of every work meeting:

1. Finish Priorities Ahead of Time 

During a meeting, you shouldn’t be worried about the time you have to complete your tasks. Make it a point to finish your priorities beforehand so you can focus on the conversation.

Use the Pomodoro Technique to get ahead. With the method, you focus deeply on one task for any amount of time you like — often 5, 20, or 45 minutes. During that time, you do nothing but the task you set out for yourself. That means no checking Facebook or updating Twitter. After that time is over, take a short break before repeating the cycle.

2. Make an Agenda 

It’s easy to get off task when you don’t have a guide to keep you on track. Make an agenda before for your meeting, circulate it to your team members, and stick to it. That way, everyone knows what to expect.

When you make an agenda, think about what action items need to be accomplished. For example, if your meeting is supposed to discuss yearly marketing goals, make a list of them and cross off goals as they’re discussed. 

3. Start and End on Time 

Delaying a meeting’s start time can completely throw off your agenda. Begin on time to show your team that you respect their schedules. 

By starting on time, you communicate that everything will go according to plan. At the same time, you set an expectation of punctuality for attendees. 

Be sure, too, to end the meeting at a predetermined time. By limiting meeting length, you push yourself to be efficient. You might find that a meeting you thought would take an hour only required 30 minutes. 

4. Cap Attendance 

Meetings can be unproductive when people are invited who don’t need to be there. Address this issue by capping attendance based on the topic to be discussed.

If the meeting is about client service best practices, ask only your client services staff to attend. If you’re discussing engineering goals for a new software launch, invite just your engineers, project manager, and product owner.

5. Don’t Require Attendance 

One of the most annoying aspects of meetings is required attendance, especially for those who have deadlines coming up. It’s better to let people off the hook who can better serve the company elsewhere. 

An efficient way to indicate that you opt out is to set your calendar availability accordingly. You and others who opt out should ask for a recording of the meeting and, if appropriate, provide feedback via email.

To optimize your calendar availability:  

  • Make sure your availability matches that of your company.
  • Choose your own “no meetings” hours.
  • Decide who can view your availability.
  • Merge your personal and professional calendars.
  • Give people a heads up about exceptions.

6. Schedule Breaks 

If you plan on holding a meeting longer than an hour, schedule a break in between. A good break refreshes your mind and helps you restore your attention.

Grab some coffee or a snack. Meditate for a few minutes. Use the bathroom, or get a drink. You’ll come back refreshed and ready for the second half of the meeting. 

7. Make it Fun

Who says meetings have to be boring? You could host a roundtable brainstorm session to motivate your team of writers. A roundtable brainstorm is when everyone sits in a circle and spits out whatever comes to mind. This helps people get their creative juices flowing. 

Or, you could make every weekly meeting themed and encourage employees to dress up. Perhaps this Thursday’s meeting is a Hawaiian theme. Employees could wear luau gear and develop an agenda with luau vocabulary. Fun activities create engagement, which boosts focus and productivity. 

8. Participate 

You get more value from meetings when you have a voice. Make your voice heard during meetings, even when it feels difficult. 

Some ways to participate during meetings include taking notes, contributing to discussions, and picking your battles. It’s also important not to dominate the conversation. Soften your objections so they’re taken in stride. 

9. Follow Up Afterward

After meetings, it’s common for people to have additional concerns. Keep this in check by sending out a post-meeting follow-up message.

At the end of the meeting, take five minutes to recap the discussion in an email. If there’s a lot to discuss and just a few people who need to hear it, schedule a follow-up meeting. These are perfect for talking through project briefs or delegating tasks.

The truth is, a huge number of business meetings are wastes of time. Be thoughtful with who you invite, stick to the script, and don’t be late. Meetings can be productive, but only if you put in the effort.

Break These 4 Bad Habits to Boost Your Productivity

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It’s hard not to admire Bill Gates. A billionaire, philanthropist, and founder of Microsoft, Gates has achieved more than most people ever will. There are a variety of reasons for his success, but one that often gets overlooked is meticulous time management. 

We all have the same number of hours each day. So why do successful people get so much done while others struggle with a basic to-do list? 

Bill Gates is an outlier, and it’s unlikely that most of us could take his approach and expect similar results. But for the average person, learning the basics like how to optimize your day or how to break big tasks down into manageable bites can make a big difference. 

This is well and good, but perhaps the most important thing is not what you do but what you don’t do

More than half the battle is avoiding pitfalls. There are tons of things that limit our productivity, but attempting to change seventeen habits at once is overwhelming. Better to take a few at a time:

1. Repetitive checking 

It takes the average person 15 minutes of focus before they can fully engage in a task. Once past the 15-minute mark, it’s possible to get into a flow — an energized state with focused attention. Research shows that people in a flow state are five times more productive than they otherwise would be.

Repetitively checking your devices kills flow. When it comes to habitual phone-checking, everyone has their drug of choice. Many get pulled into Facebook’s vortex, some can’t stop refreshing their email inboxes, while others always seem to find themselves back on Twitter. 

Smartphones have created conditions where most of us live in a perpetual state of distraction. Worst of all, many of these services and apps are designed to take advantage of our psychological weaknesses and encourage compulsive usage. 

Collectively, we need to fight back by identifying triggers (stress, unoccupied moments, etc.) and using lockout mechanisms that help curb repetitive checking. As Tristan Harris, director of the Center for Humane Technology, puts it: “We need to build firewalls around our attention.” 

2. Multitasking

Multitasking is a productivity black hole. You may think you’re more productive by doing a bunch of things at once, but you’re fooling yourself. 

The human brain might be good at switching between tasks, but in the process, it loses focus, creativity, and productivity. The dangerous thing is that multitasking feels productive when it isn’t. As Latin writer Publilius Syrus once said, “to do two things at once is to do neither.”

Many people claim to be good multitaskers, but the fact is that only 2% of people can do it well. For the remainder of us, the solution is to single-task ruthlessly. When multiple things pull on our attention, we have to prioritize. 

3. Putting things off

Procrastination is a human tendency. About 20% of adults have regular bouts of procrastination. Putting things off is generally a big productivity suck. 

A common trap people fall into in the office is to avoid difficult or intimidating tasks first thing in the morning. We have a finite amount of mental energy, and as we use up this energy, our decision-making, and productivity decline. This is referred to as “decision fatigue.” 

When you put off tough tasks, you save them for when you’re potentially at your worst. Strive to tackle your biggest tasks when your mind is fresh. 

This requires motivation, which is fickle. It’s better to cultivate discipline. Be disciplined and take your biggest tasks head-on every morning. 

4. Not getting enough sleep

A good night’s sleep is critical to maintaining good health. Without good health, it’s tough to be productive in any meaningful sense. This may seem obvious, but it is worth mentioning because, according to the CDC, one in three adults in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep. 

Research has shown that getting five hours or less of sleep several nights in a row affects a person much like alcohol consumption. Being under-rested leads to a partially impaired state where you’ll be more likely to make mistakes, have more headaches, and be more prone to distraction. 

Practicing better sleep hygiene may be the surest path to more productive days. This can take many forms, but a good place to start is sticking to schedule. 

When planning your day, take into account your circadian rhythms, which might mean sleeping at different times. Creating a sleep ritual, limiting screen time before bed, lowering temperatures in your bedroom, napping during the day if it suits you, and limiting caffeine intake are all also good ideas.  

These habits may seem minor, but they add up. Most boil down to a choice between immediate gratification and delayed gratification. With a little intention and discipline, you can live more productive lives and get more of what you want.

7 Habits of Highly Efficient Professionals

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Success can be measured in hundreds of different ways. When asked about achievements, some professionals might look to their salary, their list of publications, or their charity’s social progress. Despite how an individual determines whether or not they are successful in their professional lives, or how that success might compare to someone else’s is a personal calculation. Here are seven habits of highly efficient professionals.

Successful people will agree — at least part of their success is due to their high level of efficiency.

Watching for and building on habits that bring success, most professionals continue to learn and grow in their craft throughout their whole lives. Here are a few of the habits that people put into practice for success. Many of these ideas are mentioned in great detail in books, business school, podcasts, content, and events.

1. Dedicate Yourself.

A key to creative, professional, and personal productivity is vision and being able to envision exactly what you’re working toward. Without vision or purpose, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time paddling about aimlessly in the proverbial river of life. As Jason Fried wrote in his bestseller REWORK, “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.”

The real secret to being effective in life is simple. You need to know precisely what you want and pursue that goal as you see it in your mind.

2. Eliminate Distractions.

Being a workaholic isn’t necessarily a good thing; it all depends on how you’re getting your work done. If you can do something in a minute that might take the next guy five minutes to complete, then it doesn’t matter if you work a four-hour day, just as long as you’re accomplishing your goals. Many find that making a morning routine helps.

Try to find efficiency in your daily routine. Creating efficiency is the same thing as eliminating distractions. Don’t get caught up in e-mail, Facebook, or all the other time-wasters on the internet. Instead, focus on the end task and nothing else.

3. Talk the Talk.

Communication is everything. To be an effective participant in a meeting or team, you’ll need to communicate effectively. Otherwise, your ideas and input might not be considered for what they’re worth, and then what?

Another part of “talking the talk” is being easy to reach. E-mails, phone calls, or text messages should be dealt with as they arise. If you’re working on something at a critical stage, you can eliminate all unnecessary communication.

4. Take Another Look.

If a problem seems unsolvable, taking a few steps back can make a world of difference. Genuinely successful people can create new perspectives for themselves. They learn to see issues, people, or situations from several angles and allow for a more coordinated response.

It’s rare today that a problem is black-and-white. Competent professionals can recognize the many facets and solutions to every question or issue.

5. Be Flexible.

A branch that can’t bend with the wind will break. Flexibility and the ability to adapt to uncertain scenarios makes you a valuable employee. The ability to see the entire problem and make spur-of-the-moment decisions can make a real difference in reaching one’s goals.

Be ready to embrace change as it comes. If you allow yourself to be open to opportunity, then an opportunity will make a habit of presenting itself.

6. Cool Down.

Living a life of high productivity or high stress can leave people a little high-strung or tightly wound. No one can work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and walk away unscathed. Check yourself if you want the chance to be a highly efficient professional.

You should be able to detach from your work. Calendar time and fill that time with an activity that will allow you to recharge and rehab your body and mind. Take time to exercise. You’ll find that if you allow yourself time to recharge, you’ll do better work whenever you are working. The brightest flames tend to burn the hottest and the quickest, but there’s no sense in burning yourself out.

7. Organize.

Organizing yourself doesn’t necessarily mean having a clear, empty desk and ten pencils sharpened and neatly arranged. Being organized is a state of mind, and it will manifest itself differently for everyone. Some people find productivity only in a clean, open space, while others need every surface of their work area to be covered in quotes and images before they can find inspiration.

The bottom line is that a successful individual knows how, when, and where their best work is done. A successful life is hard to measure. Remember that as the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, a man or a woman is only a sum of their actions, not a sum of their plans, hopes, or wishes.

If you want to be efficient and successful, you’ll make a plan. Calendar that plan, and follow the steps you’ve laid out for yourself. Most people out there would be millionaires already if wanting that goal was all you had to do. Wanting is the natural part — doing what’s required is a little more difficult.

100 Calendar Tips Only Productive People Use

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4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Schedule

Everyone wants to live a more productive existence as it provides for a more enjoyable, fulfilled life. However, most people don’t realize that one of the most effective ways of achieving these ambitions is through their calendar. It’s not the sexiest task. But, properly managing your calendar ensures that you have complete control of your valuable time.

So, without further ado, here are 100 calendar tips that the most productive people live by.

1. Know your goals.

What do goals have to do with your calendar? Well, anything that you put into your calendar should be related to the goals you’ve — both short and long-term. It’s the best way to ensure that you’re spending your time on productive and meaningful activities and events.

2. Find a calendar that works for you.

Don’t settle for the default calendar on your phone. Matter of fact, if you think it’s more of a nuisance, don’t use an online calendar at all. Stick with a traditional paper calendar.

Regardless if you go paper, digital, or use a combination of both, the only way you’ll get the most out of a calendar is to find one that fits your needs and style.

For example, Google Calendar and Office 365 Calendar are excellent choices for your professional life. Cozi is used to manage a family’s schedule. And, Teamwork is a shared calendar designed for keeping teams on track towards a common goal.

3. Know your calendar like the back of your hand.

After you’ve found your preferred calendar, spend the time getting to know what it can do, as well as its limitations. The action you take might be to learn keyboard shortcuts to the latest hacks.

4. Don’t rely just on your calendar.

Most online calendars are already powerful tools. But, you can make your calendar a more effective and efficient tool by pairing it with other available tools. Calendar can take care of all your scheduling needs, while project management tools like Basecamp keep your team on the same page while collaborating.

5. Create an annual plan.

Developing an annual plan will make managing your calendar and time much more straightforward. I know it takes a time commitment upfront. But you’ll be grateful when you aren’t facing scheduling conflicts as the year goes on.

To get started, create a template that includes crucial items like meetings, birthdays, holidays, travel, vacations, and industry events.

6. Design your ideal week.

Michael Hyatt writes that “The idea is similar to a financial budget. The only difference is that you plan how you will spend your time rather than your money. And like a financial budget, you spend it on paper first.”

For Hyatt, his ideal week is one where “I would live if I could control 100% of what happens.” He divides his schedule into a simple grid and assigns a theme to each day that’s “segmented according to a specific focus area.”

7. Start your week on Sunday.

I’m not suggesting that you go into work on a Sunday. Instead, Sundays should be used to plan for the upcoming week. Review your calendar so that you can prepare. Pick-out your clothes for the week. Prepare all of your meals and run any errands. Getting tasks done and over with will essentially put the upcoming week on autopilot.

8. Establish a daily routine.

Speaking of automating your time, develop a morning and evening routine so that you know how you’re spending your time before and after work. Routines and habits also set you up for success since they give you a chance to set goals, review your calendar so that you aren’t surprised by any last-minute changes, prevent you from rushing around, and ensures that you have time to rest and do what you enjoy.

9. One calendar to rule them all.

You don’t want to feel your calendar with too much clutter. Do you need to put in your calendar habits like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast? But, your primary calendar should include all of your important tasks and appointments for both your personal and professional lives. It makes organizing your life much more comfortable and prevents any possible conflicts from arising.

10. You gotta keep them separated (optional).

If you do decide to use multiple calendars for various parts of your life, make sure that you keep them separate to prevent any confusion. Another reason why you would want to use more than one calendar is that it will avert your calendar from getting too packed and messy.

11. Import and sync your other calendar(s).

Whether you’re using a master calendar or several different ones, make sure that they’re imported and synched across the board. It’s the best way to avoid any scheduling conflicts since you can access and edit your calendar wherever and whenever you want.

You should also connect your calendar to tools like Slack and voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home to create a seamless calendar experience.

12. Find the greatest view.

You have the option to change the view of your online calendar. Personally, I like only looking at the current workweek. I’ve found that I’m in the month view, I get distracted on what I have to the rest of the month instead of focusing on right now.

Experiment with various views, like daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever you think will be the most productive calendar view for you.

13. Your calendar should be like a rainbow.

By this, I mean color-coding your calendar so that you can quickly identify entries without having to open your calendar(s). You can color-code your calendar however you like. But, I try to align entries with color psychology. For example, red for work-related tasks, blue for meetings, and green for social obligations.

14. Each day should have a theme.

Most of us spend a lot of time bouncing between different tasks throughout the day. It may not seem like a time killer. But, think of the time spent getting prepared for each new job — like getting mentally ready or gathering the right tools and resources. It’s more efficient to assign themes to each day to cut back on time wasted switching between tasks.

For example, you could schedule all of your meetings on Thursdays. But, Tuesdays are reserved for learning or deep work.

15. Schedule time for planning.

Your calendar isn’t going to fill itself out. As such, you need to set aside a specific time to map out the best use of your time and then add that information to your calendar.

16. Time blocking > lists.

The most productive people don’t rely on lists. Instead, they construct time blocks into their calendars — some people call this timeboxing. These are simply specific chunks of time used for particular tasks. During this block, this is the only thing that you pay attention to.

For instance, you would block out two hours from 9 am to 11 am for your most important work. But, from 11 am to noon would be dedicated to cleaning out your inbox and updating your social media channels.

17. Break your day down into 5-minute chunks.

If you want to go to the extreme, you could break your day into 5-minute chunks. It’s a technique that Bill Gates and Elon Musk have used to plan out every moment. You could take even further and plan your days down to the second like Gary Vaynerchuk.

18. Create a zero-based calendar.

A zero-based calendar may be too restrictive for some. But, it’s one of the best ways to give your schedule structure and protect your time.

To get started, book everything that you need to get done in the day. Next, set aside the right amount of time to get these items done. After doing this, you’ll see that there isn’t any time in the day to waste on unproductive activities. However, don’t forget to include breaks.

19. Launch reminders.

Every online calendar lets you set reminders. Not only do they help you remember important tasks or dates, but they can also keep you focused and on-track. The key is to use reminders strategically.

Let’s say you have a meeting. You could set one reminder 24 hours in advance, which gives you plenty of time to prepare. You could also set one for 30-minutes before the meeting starts to guarantee that you’ll be there on time.

20. Set a creativity schedule.

If you view most people’s schedules, you’ll notice a common theme; they’re full of “maker’s” items like returning phone calls, meetings, or deep work. But, we also need to have creative time like writing or brainstorming. We need this time to let our brain’s wander, focus, and get into a flow state.

Ideally, creative time should be scheduled during productive lulls when your brains need to take a couple of minutes to rest and recharge.

21. Perfect the art of batching.

Batching is pretty straightforward. Just lump all of your similar tasks together and do them at the same time. It’s another way to stop wasting time caused by going back-and-forth between various activities.

22. Add other time zones.

If you’re collaborating with others or traveling, then definitely add these different time zones to your calendar. Doing so will prevent any confusion when scheduling events with others. It will also avoid any conflicts when you get off the plane and review your calendar.

23. Assess your calendar every morning.

Make checking your calendar a morning habit. The reason? It lets you know what your day will look like and enables you to catch on gaps in your schedule.

24. Review your calendar frequently.

On top of checking your calendar every morning, also schedule a time to analyze your calendar. For example, at the end of the work, did you properly use the time blocks in your schedule? If so, then you know how to plan the next week. If not, then you’ll have to make adjustments.

25. Find time in your schedule.

No. You can’t ask a genie for more time. You can, however, conduct a time audit to see how you’re actually spending your time. Armed with the correct details, you can stop over-or-underestimating how long it takes to complete tasks. You’ll find gaps of time that can be used more productively.

For instance, your 30-minute commute could be when you check your inbox and social feeds instead of waiting until you get to work.

26. Print out your calendar.

Printing out your calendar may sound like an antiquated technique. But, many individuals take this action. If printing out your calendar gives you security and helps you — do it. You’ll then have a visual reminder of what’s going on without having to open up an app or your online calendar. Besides, you can also cross off or put a checkmark on what you’ve accomplished. A great big-fat-checkmark helps many people giving them the motivation to keep pushing forward.

27. Practice the 80/20 rule.

Also known as the Pareto Principle, this concept originated with the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. The idea, as related to your calendar, is that 80 percent of your results should come from 20 percent of your actions.

For example, if your to-do-list has 10 items on it, then you would focus on the first two items because they’re the most important. Knowing this, you would then schedule your day around these tasks. Over time, you may even be able to remove unimportant tasks from your calendar.

28. Frogs: the breakfast of champions.

You’re not literally going to eat frogs for breakfast. Instead, your frog is the most significant and most challenging task of the day. And, it’s also the job that you’re most likely to procrastinate on. You’ll want to place your most-likely-not-to-succeed-job into your calendar as one of the first things that you do for the day.

You have the most energy and focus a couple hours after waking. Once you accomplish this task, it gives you momentum and motivation to run through the rest of the items in your calendar.

29. The Pomodoro Technique.

When adding tasks to your calendar, keep this technique in mind. It’s where you work for around 25-minutes and then take a break for approximately five-minutes. When you reach 4 Pomodoro sessions, take a more extended break between 15-30-minutes. You can use an old school kitchen timer, your phone, or a calendar reminder.

30. Know your MIT.

You, MIT is simply your most important task. If you’re struggling with this, then answer this question from Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book The ONE Thing: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

Limit yourself to no more than three tasks that absolutely need to get done and then schedule them first.

31. Implement 90-minute focus sessions.

Similar to the Pomodoro Technique, this is where you work for 90-minutes and then take a 20-30 minute break. This strategy is effective because it takes advantage of the peaks and troughs we experience throughout the day.

32. Practice the 52-17 rule.

Another spin on the Pomodoro Technique. Here you would work on something for 52-minutes and then rest for 17-minutes. Studies have found that this is how the most productive people plan their days since it helps them stay fresh during the workday.

33. Try the Polyphasic sleep method.

Warning: this method isn’t for everyone — especially if you have a family. But, some people swear by it. In a nutshell, this where you sleep in smaller blocks of time. Like sleep four-hours in the morning and another four hours in the late evening.

“The biggest benefit is that I have about two months of extra time each year. Time is the most valuable resource in our lives,” Eugene Dubovoy, a professional project manager, told Business Insider.

34. Take the cross calendar approach.

Based on the popular productivity hack known as the “Seinfeld Strategy,” this is where you get a large wall calendar and mark off the days that you worked towards a goal in a red marker. Eventually, you’ll have built a chain. And, that makes you feel so aware that you’ll keep the habit going.

35. Three. It’s the magic number.

Chris Bailey, the author of The Productivity Project, developed this rule where you think in three-time frames:

  • What three things do you want to accomplish today?
  • Which three milestones do you want to complete this week?
  • What three goals do you hope to achieve this year?

If you want to give this method a little something extra, you can color-code these items so that you could quickly view your calendar — blue is daily, green is weekly, and yellow is yearly.

36. Bucket your priorities.

Remember when you did that time audit? You can bucket all of your activities into the following three categories: “very important,” “less important,” and “worthless.”

Those that are “very important” should be placed onto your calendar, while “less important” could be scheduled when you have the availability or delegate to someone else. As for any job that’s deemed “worthless,” you’ll want to remove those from your to-do list, and schedule.

37. Plan ahead by energy.

A lot of experts suggest that if you want to be productive, you should wake up early. The thing is, not everyone is a morning person. We all have our own energy peaks that are determined by our own ultradian rhythms.

The better option is to create a schedule around when you’re most energetic and focused, and when you need to rest. So, you would work on your priorities when you’re at your peak and take a break or do less essential activities during your lulls.

38. Block out time for white space.

White space is simply blocks of time in your calendar that doesn’t contain anything. You can use this time to process everything that’s happened today, meditate, stretch, or prepare for a meeting. It can also be used to address any last-minute and unexpected responsibilities that pop-up.

39. Plan for distractions and interruptions.

Despite all of your planning, distractions and interruptions will occur. That white space you left in your calendar is one to handle this. Let’s say a co-worker talked your ear for 2-minutes — which ate into the block of time set aside for email. You can get to that task during that free block of time.

I would also try to identify and track these disturbances so that you can plan accordingly. For example, you could turn off your smartphone notifications when involved with deep work. Or, if a colleague chats with you every day during their break at 11 AM, you could also take your break at the same time.

40. Capture new information in real-time.

Whenever a task or event has to be added to your calendar, don’t wait to add it. Put it in your calendar now — as soon as you can so that you won’t forget. It also avoids any scheduling conflicts from happening since it decreases the odds of double-booking.

41. Avoid decisions.

We have a limited mental energy supply. You’ll want to reserve that for your most important tasks. One way to do this would be to automate any tedious and repeating events. For example, if there’s a weekly meeting, make that a recurring event in your calendar. Another way to avoid decision-overload is to use your Sundays to cook your meals for the week. Decide what to wear for the week, and hang those clothes at the front of your closet. There will be no wasted decision making gabbing the next thing to wear in the closet. (another hint, spend a night in front of the TV pressing the weeks’ clothing.)

42. Say “yes” to less.

There’s no need to stuff with your calendar with too many social obligations or activities that aren’t helping you reach your goals. In other words, start saying “no” more often.

43. Only add new calendar entries if they serve a purpose.

You just got an invite to a meeting. But, it doesn’t have an agenda. Even worse, it’s going to take an hour. An hour meeting is a massive time-suck-waste of time.

As a general rule of thumb, do not put anything into your calendar if it doesn’t serve a purpose. It’s one of the best ways to protect your time and keep your house clean, nice and neat.

44. Know what to add and what to leave off.

I would say that this is one of the essential takeaways from this list. But, it’s not always the most straightforward task to know what should and shouldn’t go in your calendar.

To assist you, anything like date-specific appointments, breaks, networking, and essential tasks should go onto your calendar. The same is true with learning opportunities and monthly themes that align with your larger goals or projects.

You should leave off standing appointments, unnecessary meetings, and other people’s priorities. Other items to not include would be mundane tasks and excessive notes, like the entire biography of a client you’re meeting with.

45. Audit your past calendars.

Reviewing your past calendars can let you know how you spent your time so that you know what you can ax and what events can be repeated.

46. Built-in flexibility.

You want to schedule as much as you can, but there also needs to be a little flexibility in your calendar. Leaving blank spaces can help you with this. But, sometimes it’s alright to be spontaneous.

Let’s say after work you run into a friend. It’s not the end of the world if you grab a drink with them — as long as you don’t have a more pressing matter to get to. Having rough makes us happier.

47. Simplify your problems.

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the entirety of an entire project or goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if you were writing an eBook, your calendar would have blocks of time to composing a certain number of pages each day.

48. Create recurring events.

I already mentioned this. But, it deserves mentioning again. If there is anything that repeats, either daily, weekly, or monthly, then create the event and then repeat it. Goog Calendar, for example, gives you these options whenever creating new events.

49. Take into account transitions.

It’s rare to jump immediately from one activity to another. For example, you don’t wake up at 6:30 AM and expect to be at work by 7. You have to eat breakfast, brush your teeth, get dressed, and commute. That’s going to take more than 30-minutes to do.

Whenever you put an item in your calendar, make sure that you take into account these transactional activities so that you’ll be more realistic with your time. They also prevent you from running late since you setting aside travel time.

50. Build-in time buffers.

Similar to the point above, time buffers should also be built into your calendar. If a meeting is scheduled from one pm to two pm, then don’t schedule your next event for two pm on the dot. You need time to do any follow-up work, catch your breath, grab a snack, use the bathroom, and prepare for the next meeting.

In other words, time buffers let you stop, think, and prepare for your next task.

51. One event-free day a week.

Don’t schedule meetings every day. There should at least be one day per week that’s meeting-free. You can use this day for anything that requires hyper-focus and high-level thinking. Examples include analysis, strategic thinking, coding, and writing.

52. Make the most of the extra fields.

When you schedule a new event in your calendar, you’ll notice that there’s an option to include additional information. For instance, if you added a meeting to your calendar, you could include additional information like the client’s name, contact information, and the location of the appointment.

53. Schedule client days.

If you have clients, then definitely block out a day a week to meet with them. It ensures that nothing else will distract you. As a result, you can solely focus on the client. Another benefit is that scheduling “client-only” days prevents switching between work and meetings throughout the day. When all meetings take place on the day, there are fewer decision-making-mental-taxing-blocks. You will spend less time on travel and less wasted time all around.

54. Help clients prepare.

When you do meet with your clients or anyone for that matter, you can make the event run smoother and faster if they know what to expect in advance. The easiest way to do this is to send them an agenda. If they need to fill out some paperwork, then send it to them ahead of time so that you’re not wasting time doing this during the meeting.

55. Don’t stick to default time.

I’m sure that you’ve noticed that your calendar uses the one hour default time when creating new entries. If you don’t need that full hour, then change the time for the appropriate amount. If only takes 30-minutes for a meeting, then that’s the time you block out in your calendar.

56. Follow up.

If you’ve just met with someone, immediately follow-up with them. Since you’ve already built in a buffer, you have the time directly following the event. These plans may seem trivial. But, it prevents other activities from getting ahead of this important but overlooked task.

57. Only meet for as long as you have to.

Every meeting doesn’t have to be 60-minutes. Sometimes a 10-minute conference call will suffice. Other times a 45-minute team meeting is more than enough time to go over the agenda. Before adding a meeting to your calendar, know how much time you need to meet and block out that amount of time.

58. Allow people to schedule on your calendar.

These days it’s not uncommon for people to hire a virtual assistant to manage their calendar. Becoming even more prevalent is embracing an AI-assisted scheduling calendar. You can also let family members, friends, business associates, and clients schedule onto your calendar.

59. Always start on time.

Starting on time doesn’t just keep your schedule on track, it’s also respectful of others time. You wouldn’t want someone to waste your valuable time.

60. Eliminate back-to-back meetings.

It’s normal for back-to-back meetings to occur. However, butting one meeting up to another is disastrous as it can lead to tardiness. Don’t stack in so many items on your Calendar that you start being late. Arriving late to any event or meeting is rarely acceptable.

61. Don’t schedule last-minute meetings.

Again, this is being respectful of other people’s time. But, it also protects your schedule since you’re aren’t letting these last-minute meetings get ahead of already scheduled priorities.

62. Set odd times.

When scheduling meetings, consider starting them at odd times, such as 2:32 PM.

The reason? People are more likely to show up on time because it’s so specific there isn’t any wiggle room.

63. Keep your calendar centrally located.

Thanks to the cloud, this shouldn’t be a problem since it allows you to access your calendar whenever and wherever you like. If you still want paper calendars, keep it somewhere that’s within your sight.

64. Use a cross-platform calendar.

Piggybacking from the previous point, you want a calendar that works across multiple devices. For example, Google Calendar works across all platforms, while Apple Calendar is limited to Apple devices. As such, if I sent you my Apple Calendar and you have an Android device, you can access it.

Using a cross-platform calendar makes managing your calendar more convenient. And, it also lets you easily share your calendar with others.

65. Share the right calendar with the right people.

You don’t have to share your calendar with everyone. It’s probably for the best that you didn’t. After all, your co-worker doesn’t need to know what your itinerary for your upcoming vacation looks like.

Before sharing your calendar with others, make sure that you’re sharing the right one with the right people.

66. Enable cloud storage.

Your calendar not synching? A quick fix would be to enable cloud storage so that it has enough space to be saved and synched.

67. Keep your calendar updated.

Sounds obvious. But, this is something that can easily slip our minds. Schedule a time, let’s say once a week, where you update your calendar so that it reflects any changes. It’s a simple way to avoid confusion and scheduling conflicts.

68. Hide early morning/late night hours.

There’s no reason for you or others to view the hours when you’re sleeping. It’s not like you’re going to schedule a meeting while you’re fast asleep. Hide these wasted to keep your calendar view lean.

69. Stay on top of the holidays.

You might not have a problem working on holidays. But, adding them to your calendar reminds you that not everyone will be available on those days. You may want to include the holidays of others on your team if you work with people from overseas and you’re not familiar with their holidays.

70. Add relevant attachments and locations.

Most online calendars permit you to add attachments, like an agenda, and even a map of meeting locations. Take advantage of this feature to make event planning go off without a hitch.

71. Enable off-line.

If you’re using an online calendar, you’ll want to do this whenever you don’t have access to the internet. The reason? You can still access your calendar. And, any changes that are made will automatically sync when you’re back online.

72. Make your calendar public.

If you’re in the service industry, this is a no-brainer. Anyone can see your availability and then make an appointment with you without going through the back-and-forth.

73. Embed your calendar.

Whether you’re in the service industry or not, every online calendar comes with a unique code that allows you to place your calendar on a website. Again, it’s a great way to avoid those lengthy communications when scheduling.

74. Import information from other apps.

Importing data from your CRM, project management software, or social platforms to your calendar helps you keep all key dates and information in one location.

75. Consolidate.

At the same time, don’t rely on too many tools. When it comes to your schedule, use one calendar tool, and keep it readily available.

76. If you want to do it, schedule it.

At some point, we’ve all said, “If only had the time to exercise, read more, or start a new hobby.” Here’s the thing. You do have the time. You just haven’t added it to your schedule.

In my experience, if you really want to do something, you’ll add it to your calendar. It’s like making a contract with yourself to follow through.

77. Create a boilerplate daily schedule.

Most of us approach our calendars as a blank slate that needs to be filled. Another approach would be to create a boilerplate daily schedule where you begin each week with a full calendar containing your most important activities. Whatever empty slots you have can be used for email, Slack, social media, exercise, or whatever else may pop-up.

78. Protect admin and personal days.

Fridays are when I catch-up on all of my administrative work, such as emails, filing, and scheduling appointments. I also block out one day per week to attend to any personal events like running errands or doctors appointments.

79. Make notable calendar entries stand out.

On top of color-coding, you can also make your most essential calendar entries stand out by using bold or different types of font.

80. Create your own calendar templates.

As a whole, most calendars are fine just the way they are. But, what if you need something more specific like a content calendar or employee schedule? You can create your own calendar template to meet your exact needs.

81. Automate your calendar.

Manually inputting information into your calendar can be a huge drain of time. One way to reduce the time spent on this chore is to take advantage of the recurring events feature found in most online calendars. Now when you add a task or function that repeats, it will be automatically placed on your calendar.

Another option would be using automation tools like Zapier or IFTTT. Other tools you could try would be Calendar that uses machine learning to make smart suggestions on how and when you schedule meetings.

82. Don’t set deadlines on Mondays.

For some individuals, Mondays aren’t the most productive day of the week. It’ usually reserved for easing our way back into work after enjoying the weekend. With that in mind, it makes sense to not set any deadlines on this day.

83. Schedule time for email.

Email is one of the most time-consuming tasks we have on our plates. Even worse, it hardly helps us progress towards our goals. We still make email a priority.

Instead of spending our most productive hours on email, add it to your calendar during lulls — like right after lunch. Also, set a time limit on how much you spend going through your inbox so that you aren’t spending any more time on this activity then you have to.

84. Book your calendar well in advance.

The sooner you fill your calendar, the more time you have to plan and prepare. Another perk is that this reduces the amount of time you spend making decisions. And, it prevents any potential scheduling conflicts.

85. Give each calendar a unique name.

Having an “Events” calendar isn’t a problem. But, do you know what exactly is within that calendar? Are they work-related appointments or social functions? If both are included, your calendar may be bursting at the seams.

Instead, be more specific when naming your calendars. For instance, you could create calendars titled “Work Appointments” and “Social Events.” Now you can quickly locate the right calendar when you need it.

86. Display and hide specific calendars.

With online calendars, you can almost create as many calendars as you like. But, that can get distracting and overwhelming when viewing them all at once.

Thankfully, most online calendars let you decide which calendars you want to show or hide. It’s a simple way to keep your high priority calendars, like your work schedule front and center.

87. End on time.

Setting a designated end time to your calendar day is a great way to strike a healthy balance between work and life. It also motivates you to stay on track. For example, if a meeting is scheduled to conclude at 3 PM, then you know that there isn’t time for side conversations if you want to stay within the allotted time for the event.

88. Delegate your calendar to someone else.

Managing your calendar can be a lot of work. If you have the resources, have an assistant take over your calendar. You’ll still want to review it daily. But, they’ll be the person adding new entries and updating it so that you can devote your energy elsewhere.

89. Take the middle of the day off.

For most of us, we hit a wall in the afternoon. Instead of pouring another cup of coffee or trying to power through it, take the middle of the day. I wouldn’t recommend goofing off. Consider taking a cat nap or hit the gym so that you’re recharged for the remainder for the day.

90. Create an out-of-office message.

Some online calendar, like Google Calendar, allow you to create out-of-office messages. Now if someone tries to book your time during that block, they won’t be able to.

91. Learn keyboard shortcuts.

No matter what calendar you use, they all have their own keyboard shortcuts. Learn these shortcuts so that you can quickly add and edit entries.

92. Your voice is a powerful tool.

On top of keyboard shortcuts, you can quickly add new calendar entries using voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. As with shortcuts, master calendar voice commands so that you can reduce the time spent typing.

93. Keep your days and weeks consistent.

You don’t want to put yourself in a rut — that’s why themed days are useful in shaking things up a bit. But, when having a consistent schedule, you’re able to get into a focused and productive rhythm.

94. Address conflicts ASAP.

If you ever notice a conflict in your calendar, don’t put it off until tomorrow. Address it ASAP. For example, if you have to make a dentist appointment and the only time available is when you have a meeting booked, reschedule the meeting in advance instead of waiting until the last minute.

95. Think in “half-time.”

Have you ever heard of something called “half-time.” If not, this is essentially where you kill two birds with one stone. Cooking is a great example. Instead of doing this daily, make twice the amount you usually do, and then freeze the rest. Now you don’t have to spend the time cooking and cleaning every night.

96. Set time limits.

Consider this like playing a game where you’re competing against yourself. In your calendar, set a time limit on all of your tasks and see if you can complete them before time runs out.

97. Keep your calendar clutter-free.

The easiest way to lose control of your calendar and time is to let it become full of clutter. You can prevent this from happening by getting rid of a few lists you no longer need.

  • Meetings without a purpose or agenda.
  • Standing meetings.
  • Minute tasks.
  • Activities that are automatic.
  • Recurring events that no longer fit into your schedule.

98. Schedule time for self-care.

Getting quality sleep, exercising, and eating healthy are .obvious ways to keep you in tip-top shape. But, self-care also reduces stress and gives you the energy, focus, and stamina to squeeze the most out of each day.

At the same time, most of us rarely schedule a time for self-care. If you haven’t done so yet, schedule time in your calendar to attend to your mental and physical health. Your mental and physical health care may become your greatest growth-hacking-productivity-tip in the long run.

99. Have a calendar cancellation policy.

You’ve had a meeting or appointment in your calendar for weeks. Then, on the morning over the event, it’s canceled. That doesn’t throw a monkey wrench into your schedule, it also eats into your income.

A cancellation policy won’t always solve this problem. But, it will help reduce the number of last-minute cancellations and late arrivals.

100. Pick the best brains.

Finally, keep learning how productive people use their calendars by keeping tabs on experts like David Allen and Tim Ferriss. Their advice can help you discover ways to make your life more productive and fulfilling.

Multitasking Kills Productivity: 5 Ways to Fight Back

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Wake Up, Listen Up: 7 Podcasts to Kickstart Your Day

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, there are always temptations to do more.  

While you’re trying to finish a proposal, your phone buzzes with text messages. Your kids can’t seem to stay focused on homework while you’re trying to finish dinner.

Try to get it all done at once, and you’ll struggle to accomplish much of anything. The reason? Your brain wasn’t built to multitask: Just 2.5% of people can multitask effectively.

Where does that leave the remaining 97.5% of us? In need of new ways to optimize our productivity. 

Multitasking alternatives

Instead of stretching yourself thin on multiple tasks, try training your focus on just one at a time. Here’s how to do it:

1. Get ahead of distractions.

There are so many distractions around us: notifications on our phone, the talkative coworker in the cube next to us, political news blaring from the television.

Before sitting down to work, get your workspace right. Shut off the notifications on your digital devices. Buy noise-cancelling headphones so your coworkers’ conversations don’t implode your brain. Ask the kids to go play outside. 

 

Every time you lose your focus, it feels impossible to attain again. Context switching, which is what our brain does when during a distraction, can cut your productivity by 80%. Keep it to a minimum. 

 

2. Chunk your time.

How long can you work on one task? An hour? 30 minutes? Maybe just 10 minutes?

If you can’t seem to focus on just one thing, break down big tasks into manageable, similar pieces. If you’re doing research for a proposal you’re writing, perhaps research one topic for 10 minutes and then move to the next. This approach minimizes context switching while keeping the mind interested in the larger task that needs to get done.

 

Time blocking is another smart approach. Split up your day into 15-minute blocks of time. Make sure you schedule something for every block, even if it’s just hanging out with the kids. Remember, relaxation time is valuable, too. 

3. Categorize tasks by effort.

If you pool together answering emails and putting together a marketing report into one category, you’re going to be in trouble. Those tasks require drastically different amounts of mental energy.

Answering emails is something you can do without using a lot of brain power. Composing a report is something you should sit down in a quiet room for a few hours to do. 

 

When time-blocking your schedule, arrange tasks by how challenging they are for you. Work on your most mentally taxing tasks when you’re fresh and have the most energy. Reserve your laid back tasks, like responding to emails, when you’re lower on energy. 

4. Schedule something that focuses you. 

In his book “The One Thing,” Gary Keller suggests using tasks that create focus as nodes for your schedule. What’s that one thing that, if you did it, would make your day more productive?

 

Think about it. Maybe it’s only checking your phone after you get your important tasks done in the morning. Perhaps it’s going to the gym every evening so that you start the next day with a good night’s sleep. When you schedule a priority that restores your focus, it’s easier to fight the frantic feeling that encourages multitasking. 

5. Keep your workspace clean.

Did you know that there is a direct correlation between productivity and clutter? If you want to avoid the pull to multitask, having a clean work space can make a major difference.

Start with the easy things. Studies show that paper is the No. 1 source of workplace clutter. Throw it away, or better yet, recycle it. Then organize the rest of your desk: Are there pens laying around? What about coasters or coffee cups?

Chaos begets chaos. When your desk area is clean, you’ll feel mentally cleaner as well.
stay productive. 


Behind all these tips is a single theme: mindfulness. When you’re aware of yourself and your surroundings, you can give full attention to one task at a time. Be present whether you’re typing an email, eating lunch, or watching the kids. Focus on one thing, and forget the rest until it’s time to tackle them. 

7 Steps to Make Meetings More Productive

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Leader meeting with employees

Meetings are notorious wastes of time. Although half the battle is calling only meetings that make sense, the rest is a matter of making the meetings you do hold productive. 

According to a Clarizen/Harris Poll survey, the average U.S. worker spends 4.5 hours in general status meetings every week. Employees spend an extra 4.6 hours every week preparing for those meetings.

Ten hours per week per employee is a serious time investment. Add in all the other meetings your team holds, and you had better make sure they’re productive.

Making Meetings Productive

Making meetings productive is about planning ahead, being focused in the meeting itself, and closing with clear action steps. Here’s how to do it:

1. Finish important tasks ahead of time.

One of the reasons that meetings are burdensome is because people do not plan ahead. Being in the right headspace for meetings is key.

Start with schedule arrangement. Use time blocking to ensure you aren’t trying to get other things done during the meeting time. With time blocking, you set aside a specific chunk of time to finish a particular task. For example, you might dedicate an hour to doing nothing but writing a request for proposals. This means no checking your social media or picking up random phone calls. 

2. Make a priority list.

If you want to get the most out of a meeting you’re required to attend, make a priority list. What goals do you want to accomplish by attending this meeting? To get opinions on a new partnership? To determine a new sales strategy? Jot that down, and bring it to the meeting.

This is a great way to keep meetings focused. At the beginning of the meeting, tell the group what you want to get out of the meeting. Ask others to briefly share their own goals for the conversation as well. If it gets off track, look down at your list and steer things back.

3. Participate.

Plans are great, but if you want to accomplish your goals at a meeting, then you have to throw your hat in the ring. If you just sit there like a stone, don’t expect others to think about your priorities for you. 

If you don’t understand what deadline your boss is speaking about, then speak up. If you’re convinced that you’ll forget a newly scheduled appointment with your client, write it down in the notes. 

4. Limit meeting time and attendees.

Do you want to get the most out of your meetings? Limit the time and attendees to what is necessary. The reason some meetings go on for hours is because they involve people who shouldn’t be present.

If the meeting is focused around marketing department priorities, only have marketing folks there. If you’re talking about a patent, then the legal team should be involved. If you’re attending a status meeting for a small department, anything more than one hour is overkill. 

5. Stay focused.

Meetings may not take intense focus, but you should still be engaged in them. If you spend every second of the meeting checking your email, then you won’t come away with anything valuable.

How do you stay focused during meetings? By realizing that the more attention you give to them, the more meaningful they will be. 

Here are some tips to stay focused during meetings

  • Listen to music, meditate, or otherwise relax before the meeting.
  • Be positive.
  • Keep your priority list handy.
  • Prepare questions ahead of time.
  • Actively listen and ask questions.

6. Make suggestions.

If you’re spending time in a meeting, you should be contributing to it. If your coworker recommends that you should lead the next social media campaign, ask further questions. Why does she think you should lead the campaign? What are the goals for the campaign? 

Build on those ideas. Perhaps there’s a secondary goal you see as valuable. Maybe you could jointly lead the campaign. When in doubt, adopt improv comedy’s “yes, and…” technique.

7. End with action steps.

Many people complain that meetings accomplish nothing. Don’t just sit there and talk; make a plan. Here are some tips:

To end on an actionable note:

    • Suggest next steps: Who will do what, by when, how, and why? Every action step needs a clear reason. 
    • Get it in writing: Without a written record, the action steps may not be followed. 
  • Ask for final thoughts: Someone else may want to get a suggestion in before the meeting ends. 

 

  • Thank everyone for their time: If people feel appreciated, they’ll be that much more willing to work on the agreed action steps. 

It’s All About Goals

When you have a goal to work toward and stick to it, you won’t feel like you’re wasting your time. That, in a nutshell, is how you make more of your meetings.

Meetings may always be a drag, but they don’t have to be soul sucking. Some simple hacks like planning, participating, and focusing can go a long way. 

Be Productive Everyday – 25 Daily Calendar Productivity Tips

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For most of us, calendars and productivity are integrally linked. But, that’s only possible if you’re correctly managing and organizing your calendar every day. While that may sound like a daunting task, it’s achievable if you implement the following 25 tips to be productive every day.

1. Map out your week on Sunday.

I’d rather spend my Sunday vegging out. I’d be perfectly fine with watching football and munching on pizza. But I’ll be honest with you. By Sunday evening, I’ve had my fill of football — unless the night game is worth paying attention to. Even though I’ve found that this is the best time to plan my week.

Write down everything that you need to get done this week. Then, filter your list. Determine what’s most essential and add them to your calendar. For items that aren’t as important, schedule them when you have the availability. You may also be able to hand off specific tasks to others or drop them entirely from your schedule.

Also, review what you already have penciled in. For example, let’s say you booked an appointment or meeting months ago. Then you’re going to have to plan your day around that event.

I’d also add that you can use your Sundays to prepare for the week. If you want to watch football, then run your errands during the morning. And, you can still keep tabs on the games while cooking your meals for the week, doing laundry, or tidying up. These are all small items that you can knock out on Sunday so that they’re not distracting you throughout the week.

2. Set your intention for the day.

Benjamin Franklin began each day with a question: What good shall I do this day? He asked this question before he did anything else each day. And I love it.

Setting intention brings you back into the moment. It forces you to identify and live by your values and virtues. It also has the power to increase your emotional and physical energy.

Most importantly, intentions will direct and remind you where you want to go for the day. As an example, you have a meeting today at one. Your intention is good to make it valuable and productive for attendees. Determining this first thing in the morning will get you in the right mindset to achieve this. It will also keep you focused and encourage you to knock the meeting out of the park.

3. Have your daily agenda sent to you.

Do you use Google Calendar? If so, you can have your Daily agenda sent directly to your Gmail account. Just go into Google Calendar and then “Settings for my calendars.” Scroll “General notifications” and choose “email” under “Daily agenda.”

Outlook users can also take advantage of this feature. Go into your web app and head into “Your app settings” and choose “Calendar.” Under Reminders, select the checkmark next to “Get daily agenda email for calendar and tasks.”

4. Don’t underestimate the power of simplicity.

Search for “how to be productive.” The Big G will return a whooping 240,000,000 results.

Here’s the thing you’re going to find plenty of useful advice. But, you’re also going to come across several complicated productivity secrets.

Want to know the secret to be efficient and effective daily schedules, though? They’re simple.

Go back and look at Franklin’s daily schedule. It’s so open and straightforward, while also providing structure and encouraging a routine.

Franklin’s schedule only included six blocks:

  • Getting ready for the day: shower, breakfast, personal study, and prepare for work (3 hours)
  • Morning work (4 hours)
  • Review of current projects and to eat lunch (2 hours)
  • Afternoon work (4 hours)
  • Dinner and rest and wrapping up the day (4 hours)
  • Sleep (7 hours)

That’s it. It’s so straightforward that anyone could use it as a template if they want to have a more productive day.

5. Take into account your circadian rhythms.

“Humans have a well-defined internal clock that shapes our energy levels throughout the day: our circadian process, which is often referred to as a circadian rhythm because it tends to be very regular,’ writes Christopher Barnes on HBR. “If you’ve ever had jet lag, then you know how persistent circadian rhythms can be,” he adds. “This natural — and hardwired — ebb and flow in our ability to feel alert or sleepy has important implications for” everyone.

How does this affect your calendar and productivity? When planning our day, we should take into account our own circadian rhythms.

“The most important tasks should be conducted when people are at or near their peaks in alertness (within an hour or so of noon and 6 pm),” recommends Barnes. “The least important tasks should be scheduled for times in which alertness is lower (very early in the morning, around 3 pm, and late at night).”

6. Block out proactive and reactive blocks.

“Time blocking is simply a time management technique where you set aside a specific amount of time for a particular task,” writes Howie Jones in a previous Calendar article. “For example, instead of checking your phone every time you receive an email or social notification, you would do this at clearly defined times.” Howie does this before diving into his work in the morning. “There’s another block after lunch. And, the final one is later in the afternoon before calling work a day.”

However, you decide to block out your time is up to you. But, I suggest that you block out both proactive and reactive blocks. Proactive blocks are reserved for your most important tasks. These have to get done — no exceptions. Reactive blocks are unexpected occurrences, like an emergency meeting.

To achieve this, make sure that you set hard boundaries when it comes to your proactive blocks, such as turning off your phone. To address the reactive blocks, leave a couple of time slots in your calendar free.

7. Use the 52/17 Rule.

After tracking the habits of their top 10 percent most productive users, Desktop found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes, followed by 17 minutes of rest. The reason? We need these breaks to help us recharge and refocus.

So, in your calendar, block out around an hour for your most important work. Then, schedule a break for around 17-minutes and so forth. Don’t be afraid to adjust these times, however, to suit your own rhythms. Some people might be able to work for 90-minutes before having to take a break.

8. Schedule “no meeting” time blocks.

Meetings, while necessary, can be a massive waste of time. Even worse, they can pry you away from more important matters or interrupt your flow. To counter this, make sure there are specific chunks of time where you never accept a meeting. For me, I never take a meeting in the morning since that’s when I’m most productive. Instead, I book them in the afternoon.

You could also take this a step further by banning meetings altogether on specific days. I also prefer to schedule all of my meetings on the same day so that I don’t have to bounce between work mode and meeting mode.

9. Theming your days.

Theming your days is a simple productivity technique. As opposed to switching between tasks all day, you would focus on one theme for the entire day. For instance, Mondays could be spent developing and creating content ideas like blog posts for the week. Tuesdays would be for your most challenging work, and so on. Because energy begins to dip, and we can’t wait for the weekend, Fridays are perfect for meetings or tying up loose ends.

After you’ve identified your themes, add them to your schedule. So, on Monday, you could brainstorm from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Following a 15-minute break, your next block would be writing, following by lunch.

10. Be realistic with your time.

So many of us have fallen prey to this. We create ambitious and lengthy daily to-do-lists. The problem? These lists never account for time. As a result, you end biting off more then you can chew.

Focus on only between 3-5 tasks per day. These should be your priorities. They should also be scheduled in your calendar so that they become a priority — it also helps you weed out distractions. The key, though is to block out the right amount of time. So, if you only need an hour for a specific task, then don’t block out two hours.

Review past calendars to see how you spent your time. If that’s not helpful, then track your time for a week or two.

11. Don’t be a captive to calendar defaults.

When you create a new event in a calendar, you’ll notice that the default time is an hour. Just because this is the default, doesn’t mean you have to stick with it. If you only need 30-minutes for a meeting, then change the event time. Remember, time is your most valuable resource. So make sure that not wasting it be being tied to default times.

12.

Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. And I did not forget to add a title here. I left it intentionally blank to illustrate a point: the importance of scheduling nothing.

As opposed to booking every minute of your calendar, leave some slots blank. It’s a technique championed by people like LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. He used this buffer “to think big, catch up on the latest industry news, get out from under that pile of unread emails, or take a walk. ”

For me, it’s an opportunity to escape temporarily. I go for at least a 15-minute walk with my dog. It gives us both a chance to stretch our legs. But, it also allows me to clear my head and think. I usually leave my phone behind, too, as a way to disconnect.

As an added perk, you can use those blocks of nothingness to handle any unexpected circumstances that may have landed in your lap.

13. “OOO.”

“OOO” is short for “out-of-office.” These are blocks when you’re unavailable. Examples would be when you’re traveling, taking your lunch break, on vacation. Add these blocks to your calendar so that they don’t get filled by something else.

And, it wouldn’t hurt to also create an out of office message — which is easy to do if you use Google or Outlook. Now when someone tries to book you during this time slot, the message will automatically let them know that you’re out of the office, and when you’ll return.

14. There’s an app for that, so use it.

Yes. As you already know, your online calendar also comes in app form. If you haven’t done so yet, download it to your phone. Now your calendar will always be with you. Just make sure to sync your calendar across all of your devices to prevent confusion.

Also, like peanut butter and jelly, pair your calendar with the right tools. For example, Calendar integrates with Google, Apple, and Outlook calendars. It uses machine learning to figure out your schedule to make smart suggestions on how and when to plan meetings. Most online calendars can also connect with Slack to streamline communicating with others. And, they even work with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home so that you can quickly add new events as they appear.

15. Go light on the details.

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

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

16. Be more thoughtful about lunch.

When it comes to lunch, I’m a stickler about stepping away from work and making the most of this time. Personally, I get skeeved out by people who eat at their desks. It’s just so unhygienic. Besides, when you take an actual lunch break, you have the chance to do the following:

  • Eating healthy and nutritious food will boost your brainpower.
  • Taking a break will sustain your concentration and energy levels.
  • Practicing mindfulness or taking a nap will clear your head and improve your memory.
  • Exercising or walking outside reduces stress, improves your mood, and refreshes your attention span.
  • Going outside the office can spark creativity.
  • Lunch is a great time to meet with others.

17. Set reminders strategically.

Online calendars allow you to set reminders so that you won’t forget important dates and times. But, don’t roll with the default reminder setting. Be more strategic by setting reminders that more helpful.

For example, if you have a meeting this afternoon at 3, what’s the point of having a reminder go off five-minutes prior? Instead, you could set a reminder for 30-minutes ahead of time so that you have enough time to commute and prepare for the meeting.

18. Get rough with your schedule.

Not literally. Rough scheduling is simply not scheduling all of your leisure time. When you allow for spontaneity, like running into an old friend and grabbing a coffee, it makes you happier. Researchers state that this is because when scheduled, leisure tasks feel more like a chore. And, by the way, when you’re happier, you’re more productive overall.

19. Never accept last-minute time requests.

Unless it’s an end-of-the-world type of emergency, never accept a last-minute time request. It’s the best way to protect your calendar bt not letting less important items leapfrog your priorities.

20. Keep your calendar weird.

When planning a meeting or grabbing lunch with an acquaintance, consider scheduling the event at an odd time. For instance, meet at 1:13 p.m. instead of 1. Not only will the event stand out, but it will also encourage everyone to be on time. The reason? It’s so specific there isn’t time for tomfoolery.

21. Highlight important information.

Remember when you were back in school? If you were like me, you highlighted vital information in your textbook. Listen, I spent a lot of money on that book, and I could do with it whatever I wanted. I’m probably still paying it off!

Anyway, like your textbook, you should make essential calendar entries pop. For example, use different colors, all caps, or boldface for the daily entries that deserve most of your attention and focus.

22. Capture new information ASAP.

Whenever a new task or event pops-up, add it to your calendar sooner than later. Let’s say that you just agreed to meet a client for lunch two weeks from now. If you don’t create that event, you may forget about it and schedule something else.

23. Don’t be shy.

You don’t have to be like Cat Stevens and “let your feelings roll on by.” But, you shouldn’t keep your calendar to yourself. Share your calendar either through email or embed it on your site. Now people like your coworkers or family know when you’re busy or free to be interrupted. It also makes scheduling future events easier by eliminating those pesky back-and-forth exchanges.

24. Maximize your downtime.

Whether it’s during a break or when you get home for the day — make the most of your downtime. Learning something new, networking, reading, and just relaxing are all excellent ways to spend your downtime. The reason? These activities can help your destress or help you become more proficient.

Also, protect your downtime just as you would with an appointment or deadline. If you’ve set aside to attend a workshop, then don’t commit to something else during that time.

25. Reflect on your day.

Bear with here, but this is the last time I namedrop Ben Franklin.

At the end of every day, he asked: What good have I done today? He took note of what went wrong, as well as what didn’t. Franklin could then use this to improve his daily schedule going forward.

Also, when you reflect, you can see how you spent your day. From here, you can identify and eliminate any time-wasting activities from your calendar so that you can focus on what truly matters.

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