Can Getting Up From Your Desk Increase Your Productivity?

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

Improves Focus

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

Helps You Solve Problems

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

Inhibits Job Burn Out

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

Encourages Creativity

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

How to Move More

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

3 Ways Business Owners Can Use Their Time Wisely

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

Focus on income-generating activities.

I would argue that focusing on income generating activities is one-way business owners can use their time wisely. While money by itself isn’t a motivating factor for many, what money allows us to do is.For example, having money helps me feel secure. I also have more fun because I’m not worried about paying bills. If I can remember this, then I can better focus and use my time for activities that lead to more money in the bank. Here are some example of activities that will directly lead to income:

  • Sales calls
  • Consultations
  • Pitching the media
  • Email marketing
  • Follow Ups
  • Product or service creation
  • List building

While some of these activities can be outsourced over time, chances are you will likely be focusing on these as you get started. Furthermore, you can use this list as a guide the next time you’re in doubt.

Focus on delegating the things that waste your time.

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

Set boundaries.

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

Final Thoughts

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


Originally published here.

Motivation Secrets of Productive People

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Make no mistake about it. Motivation will increase your productivity. “Motivation and productivity are twin concepts in organizational development,” wrote Kristina Dems for Bright Hub. “First, motivation works as the means toward attaining productivity as an end. Another point: Motivation is the best road to follow to reach productivity as a favorable effect. Lastly, motivation is the stimulus to trigger productivity as a response.” Think about how this effects you and effects your life. When you’re not feeling motivated, you’re not going to accomplish much. That’s because you don’t have the drive to get things done. And, to put it lightly, that sucks. Now you’re behind on your planned goals or a task, which means you’re going to get behind another and another. Eventually, everything starts to pile-up. With no end in sight, you become even less motivated. That’s why the most productive people employ the following motivation secrets to guarantee that they’re always ahead of the game.

1. When plans are made, they anticipate obstacles.

Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, in New York City, conducted a study in 2009 that compared two groups of women who wanted to be more active. The groups were both provided information on how to live a healthy lifestyle. However, the second group was also taught how to foresee obstacles by using if-then statements. For example, if they wanted to jog, but the weather is poor, then what will you do? The women would say, “if it’s snowing, then I’ll go to the gym and use the treadmill.” Suffice it to say, the second group fared far better. Gollwitzer concluded that those who plan for obstacles are more likely to follow through on projects. This is because they don’t have any excuses for completing the task at hand.

2. They “don’t break the chain.”

Years ago software developer Brad Isaac asked Jerry Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comedian. Seinfeld told him that the only way to become a better comic was to create better jokes. And the only way to create better jokes was to write daily. But, that was just scratching the surface. Ultimately, the legendary comic unveiled his unique calendar system that kept him motivated every day. Jerry told Isaac to get a huge wall calendar “that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall.” Then, go get a red magic maker. He told Isaac that for each day he writes to to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.” “Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld said again for emphasis. Isaac says that this “works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes.” And, those daily actions build habits.

3. Live life from their calendars.

According to The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List, by Janet Choi and Walter Chen of iDoneThis:
  • 41 percent of to-do list items are never completed.
  • 50 percent of to-do list items are completed within a day, many within the first hour of being written down.
Why is this the case when so many people swear by to-do-lists? For starters, tasks on your to-do-lists are distinguished between those that only take a couple of minutes and those will last hours. Additionally, they emphasize the urgent instead of the important. And, they can add unnecessary stress. Because of these reasons, highly productive people don’t use to-dos. They live from their calendars instead. “Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks,” says Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm. “It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile as far as organization goes.” “If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. If it’s on the calendar, it gets done no matter what. Use this not just for appointments, but workouts, calls, email blocks, etc.”

4. They don’t multitask.

Despite the myths, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, it slows you down. This is because your brain is switching tasks and focus, which means it takes you longer to complete tasks. In order to stay productive, you need to focus on thing at a time. Due’s Miranda Marquit uses the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused on one specific task at a time. This also boosts productivity since you’re dedicating your mental energy on one specific item. As a perk, since you’re giving this one task 110 percent, chances are that there will be fewer mistakes. This means you won’t have to back and fix your errors, you can just move onto to something else.

5. Not controlled by technology.

“I was a Division I college athlete, and I grew up with five brothers and two sisters. I’ve always been a competitor. [But] I’ve learned that productivity should not be a competitive sport. You’re never going to win,” Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte, tells Fast Company. “I am responsible for almost 80,000 people. I prioritize people over tasks. One Note allows me to put different tasks [involving] each of my executive-team members in a tab. That way when I talk to them, I can be more effective, because the five things I want to talk to them about [are right there].” “If I looked at email and Twitter and texts [during the day], I don’t think I would ever give my full attention to anything. You cannot be insightful if you’re deluged with information.” Engelbert adds, “We’re all drowning in data. We all need moments of recovery. For me, that includes not going right to my phone when I wake up in the morning. I got on a plane about six months ago, and I forgot my phone. For two days, I didn’t have my phone, and nobody died.” Her final words of advice? “Technology should help you do your job, not control your job.”

6. They use a notebook.

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg all carry a notebook around. The reason? They rely on pen and paper to keep track of and remember all of their thoughts and ideas. “I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to write down my ideas as soon as they came to me,” Branson wrote in a blog post. “You think you’ll remember, but you won’t, and you’ll forfeit all the thoughts that flood you after you’ve freed your mind from remembering the initial spark,” adds Drew Hanson. For Sandberg, she uses a notebook as a kind of daily planner. She jots down her to-do lists. Once she’s accomplished those items, she rips the pages out of her notebook. It’s a simple way to stay motivated for staying on track.

7. They work backwards from the future.

Steve Jobs once asked, “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” “If too many days passed by with the answer being ‘no,’ he’d adjust his lifestyle until he hit a consistent yes,” explains HubSpot’s Scott Tousley. “This forced Steve to define long-term goals and stay motivated.” This may sound drab, but the most productive people “think about the end of their lives,” which helps them define their legacy. With this in mind, they then “work backwards to achieve those goals.” “This touches on the psychological theories and models of motivation. If we’re driven by a purpose, we’re more likely to work extra hard,” says Tousley. But, how does starting with your purpose keep you productive and motivated? Starting with a purpose or “personal mission statement,” leads to the creation of long-term goals. Long-term goals lead to smaller goals, which create to-do-lists. So, if you want to productive like Steve Job, define your purpose first and everything else will fall into place.

8. They’re friends with time.

Really productive people, or RPPs as Marie Forleo calls them, are friends with time. In other words, “they don’t look at time as the enemy.” If you do, you’ll end-up always struggling with productivity and motivation. And, this makes sense. Whenever you could something the “enemy” it’s only going to end-up being a source of pain. Instead, make time your ally. You can start by ditching time-stealing habits like multitasking and procrastination. You can achieve by practicing:
  • Mindfulness. This will help you focus on one task at a time.
  • Acceptance. Concentrating only on what you can control.
  • Authenticity. This encourages self-management since it helps you decide what to do and when to do it.

9. They create theme days.

Want to know how Jack Dorsey juggles all of his obligations at Twitter and Square? He creates theme days. Here’s what Jack said about this in 2011:
“The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company…Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company, the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.”
How has that schedule help Jack work eight hours at both companies? The first reason the schedule works is that it establishes a rhythm. You know what to expect every day because you’ve created a routine to keep you focused. Secondly, it challenges you to complete tasks on certain deadlines. If you record a podcast every Tuesday like John Lee Dumas, then you know that you have the podcast prepared by that day. Finally, it batches similar tasks together. This keeps you productive since it streamlines activity and eliminates distractions.

10. Bring optimism and fun back into the picture.

This may sound hokey, but research shows that the key to motivation is bringing optimism and fun. Ron Siegel, a psychology professor at Harvard University, explains: “Our modern brains are still wired up for the ancient evolutionary purpose of surviving in a dangerous environment. Over a million years or so, we developed specialized neural structures that selectively tuned in to danger signals. The prospect of getting attacked necessarily outranked all other neurological priorities.” And, unfortunately, we still go into that survival mode. Instead of thinking about the pleasurable and rewarding experience of conquering a task, we focus on anxiety and fear. For example, you just started a new business. You’re probably dwelling more on the fear of failure instead of the excitement of improving your community. The best way to overcome this? Create basic two-columned pros and cons list so you can notice that the joys outweigh any fears or anxieties. When you actually see the positive, you’ll get yourself out of the rut you’re headed into. As Rick Steves has written, “Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something is not to your liking, change your liking.”
Originally published here.

How to Be Productive During Your Commute

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I don’t know about you, but I find that there’s never enough time to do everything I’d like to do. For instance, I love to travel, craft, sew, go for walks, and do other fun activities. But it’s not easy to fit all of these things into my schedule. It’s not always easy to be productive during your commute each morning. Obviously, I try to be the most productive I can at all times so I can get more work done. This helps me fit as many leisure activities into my schedule as possible. If you are trying to be more productive also there are some ways you can that not everyone thinks of. For instance, you could be productive during your commute. Now that I work at home, I personally don’t commute each day. But if you do, use that time wisely. Utilizing it to be more productive during your commute will give you more fun time with family or friends later.

Work on Your Task List

Rather than wasting time as you commute to and from work, or other places, use that time productively instead. One of the things you could do during that time is to work on your task list. By using this time to add, rearrange, and delete things from your “to do” list, you’ll free up valuable time. You can also use the time to prioritize what you have to do for the day. Once you get to work you’ll be ahead of the game. Instead of spending time figuring out what to do first you can get right to work. This may provide you with extra time to work on more complex projects increasing your efficiency.

Create Meeting Agendas

Something else you could do during your commute is to create meeting agendas. As you probably know, meeting agendas are a great way to ensure meetings run smoothly. As discussion drifts away from topics at hand, agendas put attendees back on course. They also ensure no important topics get passed over. Anyone who misses the meeting can review the agenda for a general idea of what was discussed. This is another benefit of meeting agendas that demonstrate their importance. Use your commute time to be productive and create meeting agendas for your upcoming meetings.

Schedule Meetings

Bringing up meeting agendas reminds me that you can also schedule meetings during your commute. This lets you better use the time you might otherwise be simply wasting. When your calendar is online you can access it anywhere. This lets you be productive during your commute and schedule work meetings. In addition, if you have a shared office calendar, it makes this task even easier and more efficient.

Organize Your Calendar

While you sit idle in a bus, train, or subway car, why not be productive? During your commute you might as well get organized and a good place to start is with your calendar.

Make Appointments

If you have appointments that need to be added to your calendar, use travel time to get it done. That way you don’t miss any that are important to you both personally and professionally. Additionally, you’ll be more productive later by better using what would have been wasted time.

Review Your Calendar

Furthermore, while you sit you can review your calendar for the day’s events. Taking the time to look ahead for the day helps you get where you need to be on time. Without reviewing your calendar you run the risk of starting the day behind schedule. As an example, what if you have an early morning meeting you forgot about? After getting to work barely on time, or a teensy bit late, you now have to scramble. But reviewing your calendar during your commute, on the other hand, prepares you for the day.

Block Time for Work Tasks

Blocking time for work tasks is another way to be productive during your commute. It helps you take control of your time so you can get more done. Also, if you use a shared office calendar, it keeps others from scheduling meetings when your time is tight. If you have large, complicated projects on your horizon, make sure you schedule accordingly. Make appointments with yourself by blocking time out of your schedule. This keeps you, from overbooking your calendar.

Listen to a Podcast

Need an option for a way to be productive during your commute while driving? Try listening to a podcast. It’s a good way to gain the motivation you need to get through the week or even just that day. Use your phone, tablet, or other electronic device to listen and gain inspiration. Spend the time learning about organization, leadership, productivity, and many other things that you find interesting. You may gain valuable insight that will encourage you and spark your creativity.

Learn Something New

Another way to not waste time during your commute is to learn something new. The more you understand about the different applications you use the better you can use them. It will also help you to learn hacks and shortcuts that save you time. One idea you could try is to learn more about your calendar app. Rather than repeating the same motions every time you create a calendar event, learn about ways to do it faster. Refresh your memory about things you may not use often and could have forgotten.

Check Your Messages

A great way to be productive, as an alternative to doing nothing, is to check your messages. Check your cell phone for texts and voicemails. Dial into your work landline and listen to messages that may have been left on your desk phone. Or course, depending on the time of day, it may or may not be too early to return phone calls. But it’s entirely possible that you could answer some text messages. You could also read and respond to your emails during travel time to and from work. This helps you be a better manager of your time and gives you a jump start on your day.

Post to Social Media

To get as much out of your work day as possible, schedule your social media during your commute. There are social media apps that you can use on your phone to post social media. This lets you get that task out of the way so once you’re at work you can do other things.

Put on Your Thinking Cap

While on your way to or from work you could use the time to think and brainstorm. Furthermore, quiet time during a commute may make it easier to brainstorm than at work in a busy office. For instance, if you are putting together a presentation, use the time to research and plan. Or, if you need to write an article, but have no idea what to write about, brainstorm some topics.

Play Some Music

Although some people wouldn’t necessarily consider listening to music as productive, it can be motivational. Listening to something that pumps you up and makes you feel energized can improve productivity after you arrive at work. What’s more, music can lower your stress levels so you are ready to face whatever happens at work that day. Let’s face it. Commutes can be long, tiring, and boring to say the least. But, as you can see, you don’t have to suffer through the boredom. Instead try some of these ways to be productive during your commute and get more done in your day.
Originally published here.

4 Ways You Can Maximize Your Productivity

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Productivity is always a hot topic. Everyone wants to figure out how much more they can do in the 24 hours we’re given each day. So how do you maximize your productivity? Since we all operate differently there isn’t a single solution that works for everyone. However there are common strategies than can be implemented each day that will increase your productivity.

Here are four ways you can maximize your productivity today:

Set Daily Goals

Studies show that accomplishing our goals make us happy. This sense of accomplishment needs to be experienced each and every day. The best way to do this is to create a list of daily goals. It’s best to develop the habit of creating this list the night before. That way you’re ready to tackle the tasks ahead every morning. If you have larger tasks to complete you can break up larger items into smaller tasks. For example, if you think you need the whole day to complete a progress report you can break it up into smaller items. This will keep you organized and give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of every day. The more motivated we are the more productive we are.

Schedule Breaks

Everyone needs to take breaks throughout the workday. In fact, it’s important to take them. Nobody can be expected to work straight through the day. Every two hours you should schedule a 15-minute break for yourself. During the break it’s always best to leave your desk or workspace and move around. Take the time to check social media or send a few texts. Some will say you should avoid social media during the workday all together – and they aren’t wrong. I just know very few have the willpower to follow through with that. By limiting social media time to your breaks you won’t have to feel guilty checking your Instagram at work.

Identify Your “Prime Time”

Nobody works at the same efficiency throughout the entire day. This is why you need to identify your prime time. The period of the day where you’re at your best. To find your prime time take a look at your previous week. Identify projects or tasks you worked on that you feel were finished efficiently. Once you’ve identified those times make sure you organize your schedule to always address the most challenging projects during these times.

Use Time Blocks

When scheduling your day for completing certain tasks you should block out time for each task. This will train you to estimate how long certain jobs should take. Once you’re finished always go back and mark down how long it actually took to complete the project. Overtime you’ll become an expert at allocating time for certain jobs during the workday. Pro Tip: Naturally we give ourselves five to ten minutes more per task. When blocking out time for tasks try to always shave off five to ten minutes from the estimate. This will essentially shave off the extra time you think you need.

Final Thoughts

Productivity is not something that can be taught overnight. However there are definitely ways you can improve it overtime. If you’re struggling to stay productive use the four strategies above to maximize your productivity today.
Originally published here.

How Time Away from Work Increases Productivity

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

Do More in Less Time

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

Prevents Burn Out

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

Boosts Creativity

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

Learn More

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

Get Sick Less

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

4 Methods to Control Your Calendar Before It Controls You

By | Knowledge Base, Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments
appointment guide
Over the course of my career I’ve learned a lot about the importance of time management. How you as a business owner should control your calendar. Early on, I woke-up whenever I wanted and didn’t put an emphasis on my priorities. This pretty much resulted in aimlessly wandering through my days like a walker on “The Walking Dead.” But, that was just the beginning. I haphazardly accepted appointments, checked my emails every time I got a notification, and scheduled meetings at the last minute. And, to make matters worse, I was planning events when I should have been home with my family. I eventually realized that I was no longer focused or productive as I needed to be. Simply put, my calendar was taking control of my life — both in and out of the workplace. Thankfully, I was able to take back the reigns by utilizing the following four methods.

1. Take inventory and identify what’s not working.

First things first, get crystal clear on where your time is spent. If you’ve never done this before, simply keep a time journal. This is where you jot down everything you do and exactly how long each task takes you. This may sound tedious, but after about a week you’ll notice where you’re spending a bulk of your time. More importantly, you’ll identify the time wasters on your calendar. Once you do, you can make the proper adjustments to change things around. For example, if you noticed that you spend two or three hours a week scheduling meetings, then it’s time to look for a solution. In this case, you could use a tool like Calendar to eliminate this issue. You’ve now just freed up a couple of hours per week in your calendar to work on your priorities.

2. Create your routine.

Another perk of tracking your time is that it can help you create a daily routine. This is where you block time for specific activities. So, in a nutshell, your calendar consists of a bunch of blocks. My routine consists of a morning routine where I block out specific time for exercise, getting ready, writing, and responding to emails. I then block out from eight am to noon for undistracted work. My afternoons contain blocks for a nap, returning calls or emails, and hosting meetings. This method ensures that I stay focused on my priorities. It also ensures that I won’t let unplanned activities jump in and distract me from getting things done. I should add, that you should definitely block out time for rest. I block out time in the afternoon to take a nap and review my goals. It helps me recharge and refocus. If I didn’t block out this time, it would never happen.

3. Control Your Calendar by Stacking your Meetings.

If possible, try to schedule all your meetings on the same day or two each week. Ideally, you should schedule these meetings around 3pm, because research shows that this is the best times for meetings. The reason I use this method is fairly simply. It gives me a heads-up that I’m not going to complete as much work on these days. Instead, I’m going to be focused on conversations, exchanging ideas, and motivating my team. For me, this is a different type of work flow. I’m thinking differently when writing a blog post than when discussing an upcoming project with a colleague. By stacking my meetings, I can keep this more conversational flow going. At the same time, it’s guaranteeing that the meetings won’t interfere with my other work. One final note about meetings. Stop scheduling meetings back-to-back. This ensures that you won’t be running late for your next meeting. And, since meetings can run late, it may hold you up from leaving the office on-time and getting home. Give yourself a little buffer time so that you’re no longer running late. And, try not to schedule meetings late in the afternoon. Like don’t schedule right at 4:30pm unless you’re positive it’s just a quick 15-minute phone call.

4. Set boundaries, but also be flexible.

There’s a belief that once something has been scheduled into your calendar it’s set in stone. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s say you have a meeting with your team on a Monday afternoon. However, when you were planning out your day first thing in the AM you notice that your website crashed. The worst part is that it’s not a minor fix, it’s actually going to eat-up your entire morning or longer. This means that your entire schedule has to shift. The work you had planned in the morning now has to move into the afternoon. Now you have to reschedule that team meeting for another date or time. In short, the unexpected happens and you need to be flexible. Just make sure  when this happens, you give notice to the other party. At the same time, you have to set boundaries. If you’ve blocked out two hours of unexpected work, then don’t schedule a meeting or phone call during that time. Again, a tool like Calendar can help you accomplish these goals because it allows you to select when your calendar is open and when it is not. You then share this availability with others so that they can pick an open slot when they’re free.
Originally published here.

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

By | Business Tips | No Comments

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

1. Recruit Well

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

2. Set Ground Rules to Stop Tension In The Office

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

3. Encourage Communication

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

4. Organize Outings

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

5. Take Charge

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

6. Don’t Have Favourites

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

7. Accept That Not Everybody Gets Along

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

8. Eliminate Disengaged Employees

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

Build Company Culture

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


Originally published here.

5 Top Distractions When You Work from Home (And How to Avoid Them!)

By | Time Management | No Comments
Running your own business has a lot of great advantages. You can set your own hours, be your own boss, and work in a more relaxed atmosphere to name a few. In addition, working from home eliminates the stress of having to deal with overbearing, demanding, and demeaning bosses or coworkers. But there are drawbacks too. For example, you don’t get paid vacations, holidays, or sick time. When you don’t work there’s no one to back you up or work those hours for you. The work is still there when you get back. Those are not the only negative aspects. There are also tax implications to consider as well as effects on your family life. However, if you determine the positives outweigh the negatives, there are still distractions when you work from home.

Distractions:

1. Kids and Other Family Members

One of the top distractions when you work from home can be your kids or spouse. Even if all of your children are all in school full time there are still probably days when special circumstances keep them at home. The same can be true of a spouse that works outside the home. When the kids are running around, talking loudly, watching television, or fighting with each other it can be difficult to get any work done. A spouse may try to come and talk to you about critical issues or things that aren’t important at all.

2. Emails

Checking your email is likely an important part of your work. You probably have message you need to respond to in order to keep your business going. Nevertheless, it is easy to spend more time than you should reading and answering emails.

3. Cell Phone

Cell phones are another top distraction when you work from home. You may innocently pick up your cell phone to check on a message you received and get sucked into looking at social media posts. Or, you may be making the mistake of simply checking your phone too often. Losing productivity due to overuse of cell phones is a common problem.

4. Noise

A noisy environment is another of the top distractions when you work from home. Your kids or husband could be doing something that is so loud it interrupts your thoughts. Additionally, it could be noise from your own creation such as a loud dishwasher or music you have playing. No matter what the cause is, too much noise can make concentration almost impossible at times.

5. Other Household Duties

Some of the top distractions when you work from home can simply be other household duties that need to be performed. If you are not working in a dedicated office space you might be able to literally see the dishes overflowing in the sink or the laundry piled up that needs folded. It can be difficult to resist the urge to stop and complete these tasks when you are supposed to be working.

How to Avoid or Overcome Them:

1. Get Your Family Onboard

When your kids or spouse are at home while you are trying to work you need to get your family onboard. Talk with them about giving you the space and time you need to do your work. Let them know it is important for your career and to keep the bills paid. Remind them that it takes money to take vacations and enjoy all of the fun things they have and do. Set up a signal system that tells your family when it is ok to interrupt and when it isn’t. Make placards to hang on your closed office door. Green means it’s ok to disturb you, yellow means ask first, and red means not to come in right now.

2. Keep Your Focus

Staying focus and avoiding distractions when you work from home is not always easy. Checking your email, for instance, may be an integral part of your work. That being said, constantly checking it is counterproductive to you getting anything done. To avoid this habit, check it first thing in the morning and again at midmorning, lunch, midafternoon, and the end of the day only. If necessary, set a timer so you only spend 15 minutes responding to emails before moving back to your regular work.

3. Put Your Cell Phone Down

The habit of checking your cell phone is very much like that of checking your email. Simply set it aside in a designated spot and check it only right after checking your email. The rest of the time ignore it so you can concentrate on more important tasks.

4. Create a Dedicated Work Space

To keep noisy distractions at a minimum, set up a designated work space. If possible, in a separate room set up as a dedicated office. Having a permanent home for your computer, printer, filing system, and other necessary work supplies away from noise and interruptions will increase your productivity. If you don’t have a separate room available, establish a space that is devoted only to your work. Or, invest in noise cancelling headphones.

5. Set Your Schedule

To combat one of the other top distractions when you work from home set a work schedule that you rarely deviate from. This will allow you to work when you should be and complete other household duties at designated times as well. Do remember, however, to plan a few breaks in your day as well as a regular mealtime away from your work. This will help you stay focused when you are working and keep your energy levels at their highest. Obviously there are a lot of distractions when you work from home. Still, the advantages can outweigh the disadvantages and be resolved if you work on them.
Originally published here.

How to Create Work Life Integration In Your Business

By | Maintenance | No Comments
I often get asked about how I manage my own work-life balance. The answer is quite simple – I don’t believe in balance. It’s a myth. Instead, I focus on work-life integration and design my life and business accordingly.

Why I Prefer Work-Life Integration

The reason I don’t believe in work-life balance is that it implies you can give equal attention to all parts of your life. It also implies that all parts of your life are independent of each other. Anyone who lives in the 21st century can tell you this simply isn’t true and trying to pursue it leads to even more stress. There will be stages in your life when one area takes up more time than another and vice versa. A more attainable goal is work-life integration – meaning your career and your personal life work together.

How to Create Work-Life Integration

If you run your own business, you have more control over your work and your personal time. After all, you are the boss. The key is to make sure you aren’t the worst boss you’ve ever had. Here are a few of the ways you can integrate your work and your life so that they complement each other instead of competing with one another.

Attend events.

I’m a big networker. I’m always at some event supporting another female business owner or friend, at a workshop or at a professional happy hour. In the past week, I’ve had three events due to the holiday season – and each of them helped them were fun and helped me advance my career. We tend to think that work is hard and that it’s separate from fun. The truth is the two can coexist. For example, I attended an event a colleague was putting on as a guest. We just so happen to discuss a potential brand collaboration in 2018 while we were there. Not to mention, I’ve met a lot of the people I have the privilege of calling friends through work events. I met my roommate at a blogger meetup. That same blogger meetup group has given me an award for the last two years which has led to brand sponsorships.

Use technology to create location independence.

I like to travel for the most part. This is made a lot easier by the fact that I can literally work from anywhere so long as I have an internet connection. Using technology to run my entire business has allowed for work-life integration. For instance, a family member surprised me with a cruise last year. While I didn’t work for most of the trip, I could check email from the solarium of the ship if I needed to.

Stop making yourself feel guilty.

I still sometimes make myself guilty for working on a weekend but taking a Tuesday afternoon off. The reality is we can make whatever kind of schedule we want for ourselves. Maybe I go out on a Wednesday night because of a festival and work Saturday. Just because my regularly employed friends don’t do that doesn’t mean it’s not acceptable.

Final Thoughts

For many of us, the entire point of starting a business was so that we would have more control over our time. By focusing on work-life integration instead of work-life balance, we can easily live life on our terms.
Originally published here.
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