8 Out-There Apps to Boost Your Productivity Levels

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Apps to Boost Productivity

From email follow-ups to meeting prep and note-taking, thanks to technology some of today’s most menial tasks don’t have to take up your precious time anymore. In fact, there is pretty much an app for everything nowadays. But what apps boost your productivity levels?

The app FollowUp compiles all of your most urgent emails and unanswered communications so you don’t forget anything. Charlie puts together information on a person you’re meeting with. And Squid converts your hand-written notes into digital files. It is safe to say there is an app to help with anything you do today.

If you are not sure where to start, take a look at these eight out-there apps to help boost your productivity levels.

1. FollowUp

When you’re busy, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. However, FollowUp wants to make sure you don’t forget anything. FollowUp congregates all of your most important emails, text messages and unanswered phone calls in one place, so you’re reminded to get back to them.

2. Charlie

Whether you’re meeting a new client or going into an interview, it’s important to know some background about who you’re meeting with. Instead of taking the time to research people on the web, Charlie can do this for you. The app goes through hundreds of sources to create a one-page document with information about the person you’re going to meet with.

3. Things

To-do lists can get messy and congested, and the app Things seeks to fix that by helping users make the most of their day.

For Mac and iOS, Things organizes your to-dos in different lists including today, this evening, upcoming, checklists and other customizable headings. It helps create an outline for not only your day, but months in advance.

4. Squid

Built for Android and Windows, Squid helps you save time by converting your handwritten notes and other documents into images or PDFs. You can annotate and write on the new images, and you can also scan and sign any documents without needing to use a printer or scanner.

5. Atlas Recall

Few of us are born with a photographic memory, although with the help of today’s technology, we can feel like we have this power. Atlas Recall creates a searchable index of all of your content, including browser history, email accounts, social media, chat messages and more. Calling itself a “searchable photographic memory,”

Atlas Recall helps users find anything they’ve come across on any device, apps and cloud services.

6. Strides

Strides isn’t just another daily to-do app. It helps you track your goals and habits, letting you know how close you are to achieving the goals you’ve set. It groups habits and goals in four categories: target, habit, average and project. It will not only help you reach your long-term goals, but also help you kick any bad habits.

7. Feedly

With the abundance of news outlets out there today, there’s a ton of overlap when it comes to breaking news and other content. Feedly helps users quickly filter through articles published by their favorite news outlets — allowing them to organize, read, save and share stories that they care about.

8. Realtime Board

Communication is key when you’re working with a team. Realtime Board is an online whiteboard designed for collaborative work environments that helps keep every team member on the same page. Users can work on research together, sharing images and creating mood boards, conduct visual brainstorming sessions, work on user experience and design together and more. Realtime Board puts everything in one place and lets every team member chip in and see what’s going on.

Now, you can get started with any one of these apps to boost your productivity levels.

8 Out-There Apps to Boost Your Productivity Levels was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

15 Ways to Unplug Completely on Vacation

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Unplug Completely on Vacation

The upcoming vacation that you have set on your Calendar may be the most exciting thing you have planned for the near future. If you’re dreaming of a blissfully relaxing retreat from your everyday life, then you need to find a way to unplug completely. The constant connection to your electronics invites unwelcome work complications while you are supposed to be enjoying your vacation. If you genuinely have trouble disconnecting from your regular responsibilities, here are 15 ways to unplug entirely on vacation.

Ways to unplug completely on vacation.

Although it can be challenging to unplug on vacation completely, it is not impossible. You can make the disconnect a reality by working to unplug yourself completely. You may also need to know how to work and schedule from different time zones. Here are our best tips to create an unplugged vacation.

1. Plan.

Unplugging on vacation starts before you leave the office. In the days and weeks leading up to your vacation, you need to anticipate what potential problems or events could distract you from your vacation. Try to get ahead on any big projects. If there are pressing deadlines while you will be away, then make sure complete those tasks before you take off. It helps to plan many weeks or months in advance and get your team cooperation to complete your assignments for you while you’re gone. Then, you will return the favor while they are out of town or on vacation.

2. Put vacation on your Calendar.

Make sure to add your vacation days to your schedule. It is essential that your coworkers are aware that you are on vacation. Hopefully, they will be respectful of the fact that you are on vacation. Most people will not bother you if they know you are out on vacation, especially if they have had several weeks warning.

When you add the vacation days to your Calendar, you may be to prevent any critical meetings from being scheduled while you are away. Although it’s possible that you will miss some meetings, everyone will know that you won’t be there ahead of time. The information you provide will keep any expectations about your attendance in check.

3. Consider your work schedule.

Many of us would prefer to plan our vacations without a second thought about working. However, considering your work responsibilities can help to reduce the need to check into work while on vacation. Put in some extra time so that you know exactly what is going on with your work, your team, and all projects coming up. If you have given a lot of notice, people are usually willing to help. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Choose to go on vacation at a slow time for work. If you know that work will be busier during a specific period, then try to plan your vacation for after the main company rush. Also take a look at personal schedules, such as extended family responsibilities.

4. Take shorter vacations.

If you cannot leave work for an interruption-free vacation for two whole weeks, then consider taking shorter trips. If you can get away for an interruption-free week, then it may be worth the shorter trip. We have a few people at work that take every Friday off for five weeks each year, and then take one week of time off. Using this schedule of time-off works well for them and from a team member perspective — they are heroes.

5. Let people know.

In addition to adding the vacation time to your Calendar, you should also reach out to some coworkers directly. Of course, you will have to tell your boss. Also, tell coworkers that you work with regularly to expect no interaction for the time your plan to be away. Make a list early of precisely who you need to let know about your vacation. Sometimes you will be surprised who makes it onto the list.

6. Turn off notifications.

It can be tempting to check your inbox every time you hear the ding from your phone. The simplest way to avoid the temptation to check notices is by turning off all notifications related to work. You can even put all work-related apps into an “off limits” folder on your phone. Putting the apps in a place that requires extra effort to find may help to stop your habit from checking your inbox every couple of minutes automatically.

7. Resist the urge to purchase wifi.

Throughout your travels, you will encounter areas that have minimal wifi. When in this situation, you have the option to seek out a coffee shop with reasonably fast wifi or pay for wifi through your hotel or phone service provider. Wandering around to find wifi on vacation wastes time that could be spent enjoying your destination. Paying for wifi abroad can be extremely expensive and may not worth the cost. I’ve found the price worth skipping the aggravation.

Avoid options and choose to be disconnected. If you cannot be reached, then you are more likely to enjoy your new surroundings. Be sure to set all of your devices to “out of town,” and the dates that you will not be available. Most importantly also have the exact date and time when you will be back on your outgoing auto message

8. “Accidentally” forget your charger.

This “accident strategy” is semi-sleazy, but, if you have coworkers that won’t, or cannot leave you alone, then consider “accidentally” forgetting your charger. I call it, “the option of last resort.” Man-up — Woman-up — say, “no.”  Nowadays coworkers will usually not bother you about things that could wait until you return. Sometimes people will not take the hint; just understand that if a coworker will not take the hint — that is your problem — not theirs.

If you have a phone designated just for work, then another option is to leave your work phone at home.

9. Use an app to limit your phone usage.

There are many apps available that you can limit your phone usage through. The basic idea of each app is that you set a time limit for the amount of time you can be on your phone. Once you hit that limit, you will be reminded that you have hit the limit through a notification or it will lock your phone.

10. Make it fun.

If you are traveling with a group that has a similar phone addiction, then consider stacking your phones. The game is to place your phones in the middle of the table at dinner. Whoever picks up their phone first loses. The competition will encourage you to avoid looking at your phone for extended periods. Also, having a traveling companion answer your phone, saying, “Hello, Howie’s secretary,” will generally get a hang-up that you are happy about. Your “secretary” or “assistant” can also say that you are busy and on vacation.

11. Limit your check-ins.

Some of us can get stressed out by not checking out work emails. It’s tough to break the connection to the office, but don’t let it ruin your vacation. Instead, set up specific times that you can check-in each day. Schedule your check-in’s for after work hours so that you do not get caught up in an email chain all day — or night.

12. Be realistic about your disconnect.

Although unplugging entirely from your office is a great goal, that is not possible for everyone. Understand the expectations set by your company before you go on vacation. If you are required to be at least somewhat accessible, especially if you are the head on a project, then honor that requirement. You should not lose your job over the need to disconnect — but understand and be fully aware of all possibilities. If losing your job is part of the equation, plan accordingly, and make provisions.

13. Set up an automatic reply.

Create an automated response for emails that make it to your inbox. The immediate information that you will be out of the office is great for colleagues to know. Most will be respectful of your vacation time and leave the questions until you get back. You can also make your calendar available to everyone so that they can begin scheduling their appointments on your calendar for when you return.

14. Download travel information.

Many of our travel plans are conveniently saved in our emails. However, each time you check your travel plans, it can be tempting to check the rest of your inbox. Download your travel information to an accessible place — like your calendar.

15. Enjoy your vacation.

The best way to unplug is to plan a vacation that demands your full attention. For example, if you are hiking through the Grand Canyon, it is highly unlikely you won’t be tempted to check your phone. Make plans that include your favorite activities. It is much easier to avoid your electronics if you are genuinely engaged in your vacation.

Final thoughts

Vacation should be a time of enjoyment without the constant pull of your office responsibilities. If you struggle to disconnect yourself, then try these tricks. Enjoy the unplugged feeling on your next vacation.

15 Ways to Unplug Completely on Vacation was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

Why and How to Sever Ties With Bad Clients

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Sever Ties with Bad Clients

No founder enjoys losing a client. That goes double when the client has been with the company for years or contributes a large amount of revenue. However, when a client turns toxic or prevents the company from growing, founders have no choice but to cut ties. There are rules of why and how to sever ties with bad clients.

A client who is bothersome or needy does not necessarily merit firing.

An infographic from Invesp details that new customers are more expensive to acquire than existing ones is to retain, less likely to try new products and more profitable in the long term. By firing a client, the company might solve some immediate problems but create larger ones down the road. Every successful founder will eventually sever a few relationships, though. To keep company growth on track without creating unnecessary, hurt feelings, leaders need to understand when they have no other choice.

When to fire a client.

Startups should only fire clients in a few situations. Most importantly, if keeping the client is preventing the business from growing, founders should cut loose quickly. A company that started in one field but found massive opportunities in another cannot continue to dedicate resources to older, less profitable areas of business.

Clients may also merit firing when they have a negative effect on employee retention. Happy employees are productive employees. When workers continuously have to deal with a client who is never satisfied and always rude, they get less satisfaction from work, increasing the likelihood of burnout.

Talented and committed employee teams are far more valuable than any single client. In some cases, firing a bad client is like kicking a belligerent regular out of a restaurant. The company might miss the income, but the staff will be grateful knowing that management has their backs when push comes to shove.

Firing a client the right way.

Most clients won’t be happy about losing a vendor. Once the decision becomes final, the founders need to know how to navigate the conversation without causing unnecessary problems.

Keep these rules in mind when cutting ties with a client:

1. Leave pride at the door.

Before making the first move, think about the factors driving the confrontation. If this client is generally good for the business, don’t let one lousy interaction sour the relationship beyond repair — especially if the company is at fault.

Be willing to make amends if the client suffered the first insult. Michael Luchies, the founder of TrepRep, recommends full ownership of mistakes in times of strife. Only if the relationship has become harmful for the business (and not just personal pride) should the firing process proceed to the next step.

2. Decide on acceptable solutions.

If the relationship is broken beyond repair in its current state, outline acceptable solutions to the problem first. Would this relationship be better if the client continued to use some services but not others? Could this relationship resume later? Has the relationship deteriorated beyond the point of repair?

Answer these questions before making any ultimatums. Don’t let the client come in with an unconsidered compromise. If that happens, it may prolong an inevitable separation and create bad blood on both sides.

3. Outline an exit plan.

With the final decision to separate, walk the client through the exit strategy. Be willing to complete all current projects on time and budget, if possible, or be prepared to talk about how to hand over the unfinished work.

If you are leaving a client behind, it is an excellent time to be familiar with the contract, but don’t let legalese set the tone of the conversation. Relying on “Section 5, Article 4, Paragraph 3,” is a cowardly way to end a relationship.

Instead, talk to the client like a human being and be clear about expectations for the future. Knowing the underlying agreement provides structure for the conversation, not ammunition for an attack.

4. Stay committed to the plan.

Bad clients who get fired don’t always take the news well. If you think you can burn a client via email, they might call and start yelling. If they’re already on the phone, they might try to guilt or bargain their way out of the situation.

Remember all the research and difficulty that led to this hard decision. Bring a written list of reasons into the conversation as a reminder of why this became necessary. Offer recommendations for other providers but stay committed to the final decision.

Not all bad clients require active damage control when they get fired. Plenty of them understand the reasons and wish the best for both parties. When that happens, feel free to leave the door open for collaboration down the road. Just remember – the situation deteriorated for a reason. Unless the factors that soured the relationship change, a second attempt would end up the same as the first.

Why and How to Sever Ties With Bad Clients was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

How to Manage Multiple Clients (Without Suffering From Burnout)

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Manage Multiple Clients

Can you manage multiple clients without losing your mind? When you first start your business, your goal is just to land a single client…any client. As time goes on and your business grows, you’ll start to develop new client relationships which will require you to split up your time.

One day, you may even get to the lucky place where you can be more selective with who you work with. Regardless, you will still need to learn how to manage multiple clients. Freelancing businesses especially can be very feast or famine so want to do your best to maintain the clients you have without getting overwhelmed or burned out.

If you’re finding it challenging to manage multiple clients, here are some tips and strategies that can help.

1. Prioritize Your Clients Throughout the Week

Depending on how many clients you have, you will likely have to split up your workload so you can focus on each client on a particular day and time. If you have 5 clients and work 5 days per week, you may want to dedicate a few hours each day to each client.
But what if you have more and don’t want to work Monday through Friday? Odds are each of your clients have different needs. Some may need communication and provide bigger projects while others may be more hands-off and assign smaller tasks.
Set your schedule up each week so that you know which clients you’re working with and how much time you’ll need. Bigger clients may need to take precedence toward the beginning of the week or vise versa. Keep deadlines in mind and come up with a schedule that works best for you and allows you enough time to perform well for each client.

2. Realistically Manage Client’s Expectations

Have a conversation with clients early on about their expectations and how you can accommodate them. Be honest about what your schedule/availability looks like along with the fact that you have other clients as well.
If you don’t work weekends, speak up and let clients know. Also, let clients know when it’s the best time to reach you to discuss projects and other topics. If Monday – Wednesday works best for you to prioritize a particular client, communicate that to them and they will likely feel special and appreciated that you are dedicating a specific time block to their needs.

3. Consider Using a Project Management System

I don’t know how I managed clients in the past without using a project management system. Sites like AsanaTrello, and Basecamp allow you to organize your tasks and separate projects which is great for being able to manage multiple clients.
I personally use Asana and I like how I can see everything I need to do for each client daily along with the deadlines. Asana automatically sends email reminders when a task or coming up due or it’s overdue. This way, I never forget a client project large or small.
You can also share files in Asana and communicate easily with clients by leaving a comment under the task. If you’re working on a team, Asana is also great for this because you can create sub-tasks for each task and assign different roles of the process to different people. This saves me time and eliminates a lot of stress when I’m trying to effectively manage all my clients and meet deadlines.

4. Schedule a Meeting Day

If a lot of your clients request to have meetings with you, consider scheduling them all on the same day. Sure, this can sound like overkill, but it can actually do the opposite when it comes to your productivity. Having a meeting every day or even multiple times during the week can slow you down.
You have to stop what you’re doing to attend your meeting which means a lot of your projects will be partially completed throughout the day. It’s probably better to just load up all your client meetings on one day. That way, you can knock everything out at once and won’t have to worry about refocusing on important tasks.
Also, be sure to bill clients for meetings that take you away from your work or factor those costs into your project rate.

5. Do One Task a Time

You may think you need to multi-task because you have several clients but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve done the stop-and-go routine when by working on several different projects at once and it never pans out.
Instead, stick to your schedule and do one thing at a time. If you feel overwhelmed at the start of the day, pick a specific client project to work on and don’t switch gears until you’re finished.
Schedule in time for breaks or to check email but try to focus on the task at hand and cross it off your list before moving on.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

In order to effectively manage multiple clients, you need to know your limits and be comfortable with saving no. If having 10 clients is too much for you, be honest about it and either say you’re fully booked, or hire help and raise your prices.
Saying no may be tough especially if you feel like you’re turning money away but realize there are plenty of opportunities that will come and go. If you don’t have the time or energy to take on an extra client or project, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by taking it on anyway.
Don’t compromise your quality or attention to detail by overloading your schedule. This will lead you to get extremely burnt out. Instead, know your limits, hire the right help, and schedule in downtime so you can take breaks and decompress as needed.

How many clients do you have and how do you manage them all while maintaining your sanity?

How to Manage Multiple Clients (Without Suffering From Burnout) was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

Rules of Time Management are Different for CEOs and Employees

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Rules of Time Management

Leaders and their employees have different concepts of time. What’s important to one party is not always a priority to the other. Innocent miscommunications can lead to unnecessary strife, missed deadlines, and unintended insults. Varied time management is critical for CEOs to learn, so they respect the time of their employees without undervaluing their own. Rules of time management are different for CEO’ and employees.

CEOs don’t just work more; they have to spend specific amounts of time making others better.

The research discussed in Harvard Business Review highlights the differences between CEO time and employee time. The average CEO in the study worked 62.5 hours per week, more than 50 percent above the 40-hour work week of the average employee.

One study from the National Bureau of Economic Research measured the working habits of 1,114 CEOs and found that leaders spend most of their time working with others. CEOs in the study spent just one-fourth of their time alone, using the rest of their time to meet with teams and plan new strategies.

Employees are responsible for realizing the visions set by their company’s leaders and CEO’s.

The employees work is no less important, but it does require most employees to spend more time working alone on tasks and less time collaborating. Even managers who oversee large teams don’t have the same total-vision responsibilities of CEOs. If employees spend their time on tasks and CEOs spend their time on vision, how can each side understand the other’s perspective?

The answer begins with leadership — and the consequences of leaving time management to chance can be dire.

What CEOs stand to lose in the rules of time management.

When employees don’t feel like their leaders value their contributions, they don’t contribute as much as they could. Jostle studied employee engagement and discovered four factors that impact engagement. Two of those four correlate directly to CEO time management: employee respect for executives and employee belief in the value of work.

Employees who don’t respect the leaders of their companies don’t care whether their best efforts help line the pockets of others.

Leaders who don’t command respect can lose their status because they fail to treat others with the respect they deserve. Showing appreciation for the time of others is one of the most direct paths toward mutual respect, so CEOs must be vigilant about demonstrating to employees that their contributions do not go unnoticed.

Belief in the value of an employee’s work also relates closely to the time management of the CEO.

Workers who feel that their productivity does not matter are far less likely to be productive. Leaders need to show their employees that their work is vital to the success of the business — and what better way to demonstrate that truth than to exhibit respect for employees’ time? CEOs cannot sacrifice their time management for the sake of their employees’ time, though.

With only one CEO and teams ranging from a dozen to thousands of people, leaders of companies do not have enough time to provide regular engagement on a personal level.

Rather than take personal responsibility for the productivity of each employee, CEOs must step back and let their decisions speak for themselves. When an employee invests a day in the wrong task, the company might suffer a little. When the leader spends a full day in a misguided pursuit, the effects can be far more severe.

CEOs must make the right decisions about their time management and give employees space (and respect) they need to contribute.

Best practices for CEO time management.

Savvy CEOs approach time management through a three-pronged approach.

  • Reflection
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership.

Not all alone time is created equal. CEOs who lock themselves in their offices to answer emails and make calls might complete more tasks. Whether they have busywork, or mastermind work — closeting themselves away prevents all employees from realizing the full potential of their leaders’ knowledge and experience.

Leaders need time to think about how they see the company moving forward.

Many CEOs are so busy; they don’t take the necessary time to breathe. Only by making deliberate time for quiet reflection can CEOs create the headspace they need to lead their organizations. As Harvard’s study found, most CEOs spend their days meeting with others. Sometimes meeting others means one-on-one meetings.

But Harvard’s research discovered that CEOs meet with groups more often than individuals. Company leaders need to take time to collaborate with their executive teams and other departments, but that does not mean they can afford to attend every meeting invite.

CEOs should limit their presence at meetings as much as possible.

If someone can represent the leader at the table, someone should. With so many conflicting demands, CEOs can only afford to go to meetings where no one else’s presence would suffice. CEOs must take an active role in company leadership to help their organizations grow.

Scheduling one-on-one sessions with department heads and offering employees an opportunity to air their concerns will save the CEO many hours of extra work.

Open-door policies work for some, while others prefer to schedule regular town halls.

Whichever tactic proves most effective, CEOs should never let other priorities overtake internal leadership. Otherwise, they may find their best employees leaving for companies that are more vocal about respect for their workers’ time. If only CEOs could exchange some of their stock options for more hours in the day, this balancing act would be more accessible.

Unfortunately, compensation via time is not currently an option. CEOs can maximize their time management and respect their employees in the process, but to do so, they must learn to acknowledge the value of others’ time without giving up too much of their own.

Rules of Time Management are Different for CEOs and Employees was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

How to Break Your Bad Time Management Habits

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Time management habits

Many founders love to compete on who gets the fewest hours of sleep, who works the longest and who takes the most infrequent vacations. This toxic attitude about time is not only unhealthy but unproductive. Here are some ideas about how to break your bad time management habits.

Americans are especially bad about working long hours. If you are in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world working too many hours, you need to break your bad time management habits.

The International Labor Organization found that Americans average 137 more work hours per year than Japanese workers and 260 more than British workers. That’s nearly one extra working month per year compared to Japan, a country that has a word for “death due to overwork.”

In a nation of over-workers, founders seem to work more than just about everyone.

It’s easy to see why. Popular media idolizes founder martyrdom, and people like Gary Vaynerchuk tell would-be entrepreneurs that they have to work 18 hours a day to succeed.

Fortunately, there’s more to success than working long hours. The most successful founders are not the ones who force themselves to work late into the night, but the ones who do more in eight hours than most people do in those elusive 18 hours.

Use these tips to get more from the workday and let other people handle the late shift:

1. Schedule it, do it and forget it.

No one can multitask, even people who pride themselves on their ability to do so. Research from the American Psychological Foundation found that multitasking carries a host of hidden costs. According to the researchers, the best way to multitask — is not to do it at all.

Avoid the temptation to multitask by scheduling time to handle batches of small tasks throughout the day. For example, set one time during the morning and one time during the afternoon to answer emails, then ignore the inbox outside those windows. Schedule a couple of short breaks to avoid burnout and maintain focus.

Practice decisiveness by setting deadlines on when to make final choices.

That might mean deciding on a new vendor by the end of the week. Decide on which flight to take by the end of the next 10 minutes. Get into the habit of acting on available information to cut down on unnecessary balking. If the decision isn’t correct — you can pivot just as quickly.

2. Fight the urgency effect.

Founders who answer every email, phone call, and meeting summons barely have time to sleep, let alone work on their companies. Determine quickly whether a task requires the attention of the founder and delegate any work that someone else could handle just as well.

A phenomenon called the urgency effect, covered in the New York Times, describes why people perform minor tasks they don’t need to do, even when larger projects await. Human brains enjoy the satisfaction of completing tasks, so they direct people to complete everything in front of them regardless of how those tasks affect the big picture.

Fight the urgency effect by following a straightforward rule: if someone else can do it, someone else should do it.

Founders face plenty of work that only they can accomplish (such as high-level sales and investor relationships). Don’t waste precious time on administrative work or in meetings that someone else could attend.

3. Keep a notebook.

Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, could use any productivity tool in the world. He could even hire a team of developers to build one just for him. Instead, he uses the most straightforward tool possible — the note-taking app on his iPhone.

Dorsey understands what every innovative person does: thoughts are fleeting. A potential solution to a longstanding problem might seem obvious in one moment, but when it comes time to tackle the issue again, the brilliant idea may not seem so clear.

With a bit of practice, efficient entrepreneurs can make impressive progress in just a few hours.

Keep a notebook throughout the day to jot down ideas, short to-do lists, and anything else that merits a written reminder. Get into the habit of externalizing thoughts. Entrepreneurs have plenty on their minds, and they can’t keep track of everything without a few things slipping out. Less time spent reconstructing old ideas means more time to execute and move on to the next something.

Why work late into the evening when a few productivity adjustments during the day work just as well? Drop out of the additional content on hours logged and start doing more with the rest of the workday.

How To Break Your Bad Time Management Habits was originally published on Calendar by John Hall

How to Balance a Job Search Plus Your Freelance Work

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Job Search

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

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

How to find time for job hunting while freelancing.

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

Find your reason.

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

A few reasons to start job hunting include:

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

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

Decide what you are looking for.

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

Some things to think about include:

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

Determine how quickly you want to land this new job.

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

Take a hard look at your Calendar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create a killer application package.

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

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

Start applying.

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

Good luck.

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

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

7 Reasons Reminders Are Crucial Before Meetings

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The Right Appointment Reminders Will Get Your Customers Through the Door

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Gives everyone the time to plan ahead.

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

The same is true of meetings.

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

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

3. Makes the meeting more productive.

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

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

4. Improves office productivity.

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

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

5. Maximizes revenue and reduces waste.

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

In short, you’re improving your bottom line.

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

6. Allows you to track cancellations.

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

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

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

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

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

5 Ways to Make Your Webinars More Conversational

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Make Your Webinars More Conversational

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

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

1. Use AI to establish audience connect.

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

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

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

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

2. Kick things off with an icebreaker.

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

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

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

3. Tell a story.

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

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

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

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

4. Don’t stick to the script.

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

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

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

5. Keep the audience engaged.

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

To avoid this, keep your audience engaged by:

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

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

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

How to Stay Productive When You Don’t Have WiFi

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Stay Productive

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

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

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

Catch Up on Organization Tasks

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

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

Check and Respond to Emails on Your Phone

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

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

Write a Newsletter Draft From Scratch

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

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

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

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

Outline Some Content

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

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

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

Have an Impromptu Meeting

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

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

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

Make a Phone Call

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

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

No Internet, No Problem

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

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

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

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