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5 Methods Your Employees Can Start Using for Better Time Management

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Companies have training regimens in place that help onboard new hires as quickly as possible. More often than not, company mandated training focuses on hard skills required to perform daily tasks. While it’s important to know what you’re doing when filling a role, soft skills shouldn’t be overlooked.

One of the most important and impactful soft skills is that of time management. There are workers out there who might not have hard skills developed in their trade just yet, but excel at managing how they use their time. These employees typically have a much higher capacity than their peers.

Time management can be taught. As a business leader, you should make an effort to help your employees, both new and old, to improve how they use their time. These five methods can be introduced to them with that goal in mind:

1. Weekly Planning

An old adage reads as follows: failing to plan is planning to fail. There is a lot of truth in that statement. While a plan might not be carried out exactly as listed, it’s the preparation that’s important. Entering each new week with ample preparation makes it much easier to ultimately use your time wisely.

If you know when all of your upcoming meetings and deadlines are, you can better plan around them. You’ll know just when you can check your emails, return some phone calls, and finish up a marketing pitch. Without weekly planning, you’ll be in more of a scramble. This leads to a lot of stress and burnout among employees.

2. Task Prioritization

Another soft skill that tends to get overlooked is learning how to prioritize a task list. Each daily task has its own size and importance. Much like a puzzle, the fastest way to finish is by deciding where to start and figuring out which pieces go where.

A common way to approach task prioritization is the Eisenhower Matrix. Named after the former U.S. President, this method can help even the least experienced learn how to prioritize effectively. The matrix consists of four quadrants based on their importance and urgency. Tasks of high importance and great urgency are moved to the top of the to-do list.

This is a simple way to quickly determine which tasks should be first on the schedule. With a prioritized list, employees can manage their time more effectively while completing the most important tasks.

3. Calendar Upkeep

Few things help with time management like a good old fashioned calendar. Digital calendars in particular are very helpful for tracking and planning your time. You can create and edit a variety of events whether they’re work-related or personal.

Company calendars are helpful but can only get you so far. A personal calendar can be customized to fit the needs of the user. For example, if one of your employees needs numerous reminders to stay on top of their schedule, a personal calendar can be equipped to do so.

A personal calendar can also help employees learn time management skills outside of work. If workers can implement time management strategies with parenting, hobbies, and daily routines, they can come to the office better prepared for a busy day.

4. Task Management

There is such a thing as trying to do too much. Companies that overload their employees can’t expect them to be very effective or efficient. This is something you can work on as a manager. However, even if you provide the best working conditions possible, employees should still learn how to manage their capacity.

Let your employees know that they won’t be penalized for using their time off or focusing on work-life balance. This is something you should both enable and encourage. Happy, well-rested employees will work much harder and much more effectively than they would otherwise.

One method you can consider is enabling remote work or hybrid work. Employees who work from home often have an easier time balancing their work with the rest of their lives. Instead of continuing to overload their schedule, time with family can easily take place.

5. Goal Setting

Time management is often easier to tackle when you have a goal set in mind. Goals with designated deadlines give you a greater sense of resolve. Instead of running on autopilot, you’ll be more motivated to manage your time in pursuit of the goals you’ve set.

In some roles or particular times of year there aren’t many goals that get assigned by others. In these cases, employees need to learn how to set their own goals. If they can create that sense of urgency and direction, they will have more motivation to manage their time in order to reach said goals.

Let’s use a sales team as an example. If they’re compensated by commission, they’ll only be paid as often as they close. Setting personal goals for sales numbers will force them to manage their time to make things happen.

Time management can be taught. Set the example, and provide your team with the tools they need. Improved time management can allow them to get their jobs done in less time with greater satisfaction.

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4 Time Management Tips From Top Business Leaders

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No matter who you are, time management will always be a significant factor in your success. Life is busy, and when tasks pile up, it can be difficult to make sure they’re done well and done on time.

So whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a team leader, mastering time management skills will pay you back in spades. If you’re looking for ways to do that, you’re in luck. Many top business leaders have shared their time management wisdom with the world. Here are some of their best tips.

1. Tony Robbins on The Purpose Behind It All

Tony Robbins is an American philanthropist and motivational speaker who has helped millions of people get their lives on track. And time management is a huge aspect of that. After all, if you can’t lead yourself, how can you effectively lead others?

Robbins says, “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.” According to Robbins, the outcome of one’s effort is in relationship with the direction of one’s focus. A lack of focus, or concentration of power, leads to scattered and often disappointing results.

To find your focus again, brainstorm a list of your five most important values and desired outcomes. Once your goals are clear, focus all your efforts on achieving them. Evaluate every action by asking, “Is this bringing me closer to my goals or taking me further away from them?”

With your mind focused on your objectives, you’ll be able to view each part of your work as taking steps. These steps can move you forward or backward — the choice is yours.

2. John Rampton on Smart Schedules

Scheduling may seem like an obvious element of productive time management, and that’s because it is! But because it’s so obvious, it’s easy to forget how powerful it can be. Basic scheduling is a fundamentally effective way to break up your day into contained and easily identifiable chucks. Checking off the to-do list of your schedule psychologically rewards and subsequently motivates your brain.

Serial entrepreneur John Rampton takes scheduling to the next level. One of his greatest recommendations is to schedule time for distractions. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but it actually increases the robustness of your schedule and, thus, your output. Why?

Imagine a co-worker comes to you asking for help with something. Suddenly, you’ve got to take the time and energy to weigh your priorities. If you decide to help them, then you’ve lost focus and productivity on your own project.

Now imagine you’ve blocked time out of your day for distractions. You can immediately tell your co-worker that you’d love to help and can do so during that chunk of time.

Schedule your day wisely, and you’ll be able to keep up personal productivity while still flexing for unexpected surprises.

3. James Clear on the Power of Environment

We often believe ourselves to be in control of our habits. But habit-formation expert James Clear asserts that much of our decision-making is a product of our environment. In Clear’s view, “Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.” This may be a tough pill to swallow at first, as it makes the human condition appear slightly frail. However, it also means that you can use the power of your environment to your advantage.

All offices are products of environmental design. And now that many people use their homes as their offices, it’s important to channel similar design values. Just like scheduling time for distractions, it’s important to design space for them, too. Or more accurately, it’s important to design your workspace such that it’s relatively free of them. So locate the TV elsewhere, choose a space with a door, and use noise-canceling headphones if necessary.

By eliminating distractions from your workspace, you program your mind to associate your workspace with, well, work. If your environment naturally encourages you to focus on your tasks, the hours you spend working will be more productive.

4. Tim Ferriss on Getting More Out Of Your Work

Life-hacker and work guru Tim Ferriss achieved his initial fame from his 2007 breakout book “The 4-Hour Work Week.” Since then, he’s gone on to help millions of people optimize their decision-making and productivity, among many other life hacks.

In “The 4-Hour Work Week,” Ferriss seeks to implant in the reader the idea that less is more. One of the ways he does this is by introducing the 80/20 principle. The 80/20 principle asserts that 80% of something’s value comes from just 20% of the actual work done. The nuances, the finer details, are what make up the remaining 20% of the value and 80% of the work.

This idea hearkens back to Tony Robbins’ advice to keep your purpose and motivation at the forefront of your attention. The 80/20 principle asks you to discern what task will give you the most value for the least amount of work. Focus on accomplishing this most valuable 20%, and you will increase your productivity dramatically. Less truly is more .

Putting It All Together

So to recap: Concentrate on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Make sure to create a smart and robust schedule that can flex for unexpected surprises. Keep your environment free of unnecessary distractions that would deter you from your goals. Discover and do the work that will give you the greatest amount of value for the least amount of effort.

By using the time management wisdom of top business leaders, you may find yourself more productive than ever before.

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How to Improve Time Management With Remote Workers

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When it comes to improving time management, anything is possible. If there’s one thing companies have learned over the past two years, it’s that remote work is not only possible — but it’s also productive. Just how productive, though, depends on how well your remote employees manage their time. Some will need more help than others. That’s where you as a manager come in.

Even the best, most focused workers need guidance and resources to reach top performance. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to set them on the right track. With a few tools and tactics, you can help your offsite employees improve time management and streamline their days. Consider these strategies to help your at-home workers maximize time management and productivity.

1. Schedule Check-Ins

Regular touchpoints with remote workers — via phone or video — are a critical part of ensuring they’re staying on course. The meetings don’t need to be long, but they do need to cover the high points. Weekly one-on-one calls are a great option to keep you in the loop with your employee’s progress. You can discuss their to-do list, address any problems, and brainstorm solutions.

If you find weekly check-ins are too much, consider biweekly team and one-on-one meetings. It’s a chance to see how much work has been done in 10 business days. That could point to spots where you need to make changes. Whichever meeting format you choose, give your employees time to share their concerns and any obstacles they’re facing.

2. Use Project Management Software

You likely learned a lot about project management software when companies pivoted quickly to remote work during the pandemic. Instead of relying on countless emails and phone calls, these tools kept the wheels of work moving digitally. Software like Trello, Basecamp, ClickUp, and Hive makes it easier to visibly assign tasks. Everyone knows their responsibilities and whom to reach out to for collaboration.

Messaging capabilities eliminate the need for phone calls or waiting for email replies, improving time management. Employees share access to group documents, so there’s less need for group meetings to share information. Plus, most project management tools are also available on mobile devices. That means your employees can stay on top of work even when they’re away from their computers.

3. Implement Time Trackers

At first thought, yes, this tactic might sound a bit like micromanagement. However, these trackers have a great record of effectively boosting productivity. Using a time tracker daily helps your employees figure out exactly how much time certain tasks take. It also identifies the ones that suck the most minutes out of their day.

Some trackers also offer time analytics — a feature that lets employees tally how they’re spending their time daily. How much goes to email or projects or networking? With a good idea of how they’re spending their day, your remote workers can better prioritize their time. They can improve their time management by staying on task and, potentially, getting ahead of schedule.

4. Share Calendars

If most or all your employees work remotely, it can be tough to coordinate a schedule. It’s even harder if they live in separate time zones. It’s not possible to simply pop your head into their office to ask when they’re free for a meeting. Consequently, you and your employees need something to help you coordinate.

A shared online calendar is a great option. With a quick schedule search, you can see everyone’s availability in a matter of minutes. You can add multiple people to meeting invitations and book time on their calendars with a few clicks. It’s a huge time saver because it eliminates the need for multiple phone calls or emails to find the best time.

5. Offer Several Communications Tools

The days when email was the latest and greatest office communication tool are long gone. Today, remote employees need more advanced communications options to save time and improve their work. The best tools work on desktop and mobile. The important thing is to find ones that accommodate your on-the-go workers like salespeople.

Videoconferencing, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, let you connect with everyone face-to-face. Such meetings save time because people can ask questions in the moment rather than making follow-up calls. Instant messaging functions (also found in Teams, Zoom, and Slack) let your employees ask each other simple questions without devoting more time to longer conversations.

6. Launch the Buddy System

Remote work is famous for giving employees more time to concentrate with fewer interruptions. It’s also notorious for offering lots of time for procrastination. Putting a buddy system in place can keep everyone on track. It works particularly well if your employees collaborate on projects.

Designated team buddies can frequently touch base with each other to check on progress. They can answer each other’s questions, brainstorm ideas, and troubleshoot problems. This type of teamwork is also a failsafe to ensure nothing important is overlooked. Together, team members can check all the boxes to save time and keep projects on schedule.

One thing is clear: For many organizations, remote work is here to stay. Over time, that means your number of offsite employees is likely to grow. Giving them the tools they need to improve their time management effectively will help ensure their — and your company’s — future success.

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Share Your Troubles With Your Coworkers; Boost Productivity

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Boosting productivity is always important, but it’s also important to note that each of us has problems; and we all need a listening ear. ‌Maybe it’s a friend, spouse, or parent. Whatever the case, it’s nice to know that you’ve got someone you can talk to whenever you’re feeling low.

Further,‌ ‌the‌ ‌boundaries between work and home have become increasingly‌ ‌‌‌entwined over the past two years. In these cases, turning to a coworker could be beneficial. ‌‌‌In particular, Susan Cain, author of Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, found that it could result in stronger coworker connections and a greater boost in ‌productivity.

In her book, Cain cites the example of a company that normalized sharing personal issues. The billing department at Midwest Billing, a community hospital in Jackson, Michigan, created a culture in which every employee was assumed to have a personal problem. ‌Rather than be seen as a problem, teammates demonstrated compassion by sharing their troubles. Employees‌ ‌helped each other out with divorces, domestic violence, deaths in the family, and even when someone was ill.

Not only is sharing troubles with others good for your mental health, but it is also good for business productivity as well. “During the five years prior to the study, Midwest Billing got its bills collected more than twice as fast as before, beating industry standards,” writes Cain. “The turnover rate in the unit was only 2%, compared with an average of 25% across all of Midwest Health System, and a significantly higher rate across the medical billing industry.”

Honestly, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Why Talking About Our Problems Helps

Talking about our problems helps us a lot, according to previous research.

In research from U.C.L.A., “affect labeling” is a method for putting feelings into words so that the amygdala is less triggered when confronted with upsetting things. ‌In this way, you can slow down your stress response over time. ‌

Being in a car after a car accident, for example, can be emotionally overwhelming. ‌But, as you talk the situation through, put your feelings into words, and process what happened, you won’t feel that way when you get back into the car.

Additionally, studies at Southern Methodist University found that writing about traumatic experiences or undergoing talk therapy helped patients’ immune systems and health. ‌It was found that suppressing thoughts and emotions increases stress. ‌Either way, the negative feelings are there, but you must work to suppress‌ ‌them. ‌When your brain and body are overworked, you are more susceptible to getting sick or feeling miserable.

How to Your Troubles At Work

While you may feel awkward sharing your troubles with your teammates, here are some pointers on how to do so.

Think about whether it’s a topic worth discussing.

Work may seem like the perfect place to vent, but it is not. ‌Never share what you are going through personally at work. ‌The exception? When a problem affects your career, sharing personal information should be reserved.

In fact, this kind of sharing can sometimes‌ ‌help‌ ‌‌‌strengthen ‌work‌ ‌relationships. Some examples‌ ‌of‌ ‌appropriate personal topics to share are:

  • An‌ ‌illness‌ ‌that’s impacting your performance.
  • You’ve got a family issue that’s affecting your‌ ‌work‌ ‌schedule‌ ‌or‌ ‌ability‌ ‌to‌ ‌work.
  • Pregnancy.

On the flip side, you should avoid discussing the following:

  • Financial concerns.
  • Problems with your children include drugs, arrests, and troubles‌ ‌at‌ ‌school.
  • Relationship problems of any kind.
  • Litigation, neighbor wars, car troubles.

If you steer clear of these conversations, you avoid being labeled as someone who has so many issues that it hinders your career.

And, one more thing. If you have a serious medical problem or family emergency, it’s probably best to discuss this with your boss. You can then brainstorm possible solutions like a leave of absence or a flexible work schedule.

Speak with the right people.

In the past, if you shared how you felt with someone and didn’t seem to yield any results, ‌it might be because you weren’t talking to the right‌‌ ‌‌person. ‌The support of someone you trust (without enabling bad habits such as co-rumination) is critical.

Find someone who has experienced the same problem and hopefully solve it. For example, if you’re struggling to meet deadlines or understand the scope of a project, ask a coworker for help. Hopefully, they can share their time management tips or clarify the work with you.

What should you do if you need a lot of time to talk? ‌Well, maybe you could schedule a recurring bi-weekly check-in. Or divide your conversations among several‌ ‌people. ‌Having a comprehensive social support system lets you distribute the load if one is worn out.

Schedule the right time and place to talk.

Even if it is a serious issue, it isn’t worth allowing to fester and linger. But, at the same time, you also don’t want to pour your heart when your coworkers are rushing to a meeting. So if you know when they’ll be less busy, pick a time that works for you. ‌

Also, pick a time when they’ll ‌be‌ ‌alone. After all, you don’t want to disclose a medical problem, for instance, at the water cooler or on a team call.

The easiest way to approach this? Share your calendar with them. This way, they can see when you’re available. From there, they can book a time to chat when they’re also free. You can even add a location, like a nearby coffee shop, to the invite to prevent other coworkers from eavesdropping. This will not only boost productivity, but it will help you be able to lean on someone for a quick listening ear.

Use “I” statements.

Thomas Gordon introduced “I statements” in the 1960s as a way to help kids understand emotions and behaviors‌ ‌during‌ ‌play‌ ‌therapy. ‌However, they can have many advantages during communication, including:

  • Feeling‌ ‌statements‌ ‌are a way to express assertiveness without provoking blame, accusation, defensiveness, or guilt in other people.
  • It’s easy to solve conflicts‌ ‌without putting‌ ‌people‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌defensive. ‌This focuses the conversation on solving a problem rather than assigning blame by focusing on the feelings and needs of the speaker.
  • Using I-messages can also be an excellent way to give constructive feedback to others. ‌The conversation is focused on the speaker’s feelings rather than how they feel‌ ‌about‌ ‌it.

Of course, not every situation requires using “I” statements. However, they can be helpful in the following situations:

  • If we need to confront someone‌ ‌about‌ ‌their‌ ‌behavior.
  • Feelings of injustice when others treat us poorly.
  • When‌ ‌we‌ ‌feel‌ ‌angry or defensive.
  • If someone is‌ ‌angry‌ ‌with‌ ‌us.

At the same time, there are potential disadvantages to “I” statements. These include being seen as expressing emotionalism, weakness, and what’s best for you.

Despite these concerns, when sharing your troubles with a coworker, they can boost productivity. For example, let’s say you’re collaborating with them, and they have a habit of not providing updates on their progress. You could say, “I get anxious when I don’t receive updates.”

Take action on solutions.

“Problem-solving makes you feel better, but getting things off your chest alone doesn’t make you feel better,” advises Kristin Behfar, Ph.D. ‌So keep multiple solutions in your back pocket, whether you offer advice or ask for it. ‌

Your next step should be to act. ‌This will ensure that you won’t complain simply for the sake of complaining.

Of course, putting that into practice isn’t always easy. ‌Here is a 10-step process devised by Brian Tracy for putting your plans into action:

  • Positively frame the problem.
  • Clearly define the situation or problem.
  • Take several different approaches to the problem using critical thinking.
  • Decide on‌ ‌the‌ ‌ideal‌ ‌solution‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌problem.
  • Select the most appropriate solution to ‌your‌ ‌challenge.
  • Prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌and overcome the worst outcome possible.
  • Keep track of‌ ‌your‌ ‌progress.
  • Be fully responsible‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌decision.
  • Set‌ ‌a‌ ‌deadline‌ ‌to solve the problem.
  • Solve your problem by taking action.

Set time limits.

If a colleague has taken the time out of their day to listen to you, then you need to pay them the same level of respect. How? By being respectful of their valuable time.

To boost productivity and make sure you stay focused, the first place to start is setting time limits. It’s unreasonable for them to block out three hours of their day to listen to your life story. So instead, a 30-minute should suffice.

To keep you on track, prepare an agenda — just like you would with a meeting. That means focusing on the work problem that’s giving you the most distress. Then, after identifying this issue, jot down and rehearse what you want to say to keep the talk concise.

Also, just like scheduling a meeting, leave a few minutes for possible response and brainstorming.

Another thing to keep in mind? Be on time. If you have scheduled this talk for 11 a.m. on Friday, then make sure you’re on time.

What Role Do Leaders Play?

Leading by example is often the first step in creating a sharing culture. ‌Ultimately, sharing culture can lead to a productivity boost. Cain tells the story of Rick Fox, one of the leaders of a Shell Oil oil ‌rig‌ ‌case‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Gulf‌ ‌of‌ ‌Mexico. ‌Fox hired Lara Nuer, co-founder of Learning as Leadership, to solve problems with drilling schedules and oil production numbers. ‌Following a conversation with Fox, Nuer revealed that his biggest‌ ‌problem‌ ‌was‌ ‌fear. ‌Not only was the work dangerous, but also managing people and ensuring their safety.

As they worked together, Nuer encouraged them to speak with each other about their fears, including their personal problems. ‌During the transition from a macho culture to one in which the men supported each other, the culture shifted from one of the hiding weaknesses or asking questions.

“There were fewer accidents because the guys on the rig got more comfortable opening up when they didn’t know how to do something or didn’t understand how something worked,” says Cain.

Leaders, however, may find it hard to share their own struggles, Cain notes. “At least one study suggests that confiding one’s troubles in subordinates can cause them to lose confidence in and comfort with you,” she says. “At the same time, the best way to shift a culture is for leadership to go first.”

Leaders‌ ‌don’t have to share all their problems to be a perfect example or boost productivity. “They don’t need to speak to their employees the same way they’d talk to their therapist,” Cain adds. “It’s enough to move in the direction of open-heartedness.”

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Share Your Troubles With Your Coworkers; Boost Productivity was originally published on Calendar by .

5 Software Solutions for Better Time Management

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As an entrepreneur, one of the most difficult things to manage is your time. You wear multiple hats, trying to balance everything from checkbooks to customer complaints and internal affairs with your employees. Making sure you have time for all of that, plus a personal life to keep you sane, is just as important as it is challenging.

While discipline and hard work are certainly answers to time management concerns, there are other solutions worth exploring. In particular, consider these five software programs that have already been proven to help improve time management and overall productivity.

1. Project Management Software

If you were able to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, you probably became familiar with at least one type of project management software. These tools made it possible for teams to continue working together despite not meeting in the same place. Even as offices return to normal, project management software is still seeing use because of how helpful it can be for time management.

Project management software can help you manage your time in many ways. Delegating tasks can be done much more quickly, and roles can be assigned publicly for the whole team to see. Many software programs include messaging capabilities to send quick updates and questions, whether you’re on your computer or mobile device. Most programs also allow you to integrate other apps such as Google Drive and Zoom.

Your entire team will become more efficient thanks to the features that project management software provides. Meeting times can be cut down due to increased communication, and resources can be more easily stored and accessed within the program. Over time your team will adapt the software to its needs making it become increasingly effective as time goes on.

2. Time-Tracking Software

One of the best ways you can improve your time management is to keep a daily record. You can do this on paper, but you’ll have a much easier time using time-tracking software. Not only is it faster to track your time through a digital program, but the software often comes with additional, helpful features.

One such example is Calendar, the aptly named online calendar application. One of its features is time analytics. As you update your events and appointments within Calendar, it breaks down your daily and weekly time usage. This allows you to visualize how your time is being spent. You may notice you’re spending too much time in meetings and not enough time networking thanks to these analytics.

Time tracking will also help you keep yourself accountable to projects and commitments. For entrepreneurs trying to get a start-up going this is especially important. Time tracking ensures that you’re putting in the effort required for success while still spending quality time with your family and friends.

3. Checklist Software 

When you have so many tasks staring you in the face it’s difficult to decide where you should start. Do you need to begin your day by checking emails, or should you finish that high-profile sales pitch first? What you need is a good game plan for your daily checklists. The less time you spend mulling over your to-do list, the more time can be spent toward action.

The first step is to make good lists. Checklist software can provide good templates for your to-do lists. You can organize tasks by type and urgency while adding colors and designs to set them apart. Visualizing your checklists will improve your ability to complete them.

Ranking your to-do list and prioritizing items in your schedule will be a little tougher. Try something like the Eisenhower Matrix to help determine which tasks should take precedence each day.

4. Automated Scheduling Software 

When it comes to time management, automation will always be your best friend. The more tasks you can automate, the fewer things you have to worry about each day. This frees up a lot of time for you to focus on a more concentrated list.

Let’s say you operate an appointment-based business. Clients can use automated scheduling software to book their appointments without needing to go through an agent. All of the time and effort needed to schedule appointments is now spent by the customer.

You can use automated scheduling software within your organization as well. A scheduling link can be shared with employees who might want to meet with you periodically. That same link can be shared with other companies or investors who work with you for optimized communication.

5. Knowledge Base Software

Also known as help center software, knowledge base software allows you to set up self-service content for your customers. A common use for this software is creating a Frequently Asked Questions page for your website. Informative blog posts or tutorial videos also fall under this category.

Such a tool is extremely valuable for small business owners who are more likely to be answering questions for customers. If prospective clients can get their questions and concerns answered on your website, there will be fewer calls to field and emails to respond to. Since most of these customer interactions can’t be planned for in advance, you’ll have an easier time sticking to a concrete schedule while building your business.

In addition to this list, there are many other types of software solutions that can help you better manage your time. Give at least one of them a try this month and pay attention to your time usage. Compare it to last month, and you’ll see which solutions are actually fixing your problems.

Slash These 10 Work-From-Home Habits to Build Productivity

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work from home

Although work from home can boost productivity, habits will determine the productivity success. ‌So, remote workers should eliminate unproductive habits. And, more importantly, know which habits to replace them with.

Did you know that 16% of companies globally are fully-remote? Even if you aren’t a part of that percentage, there’s a good chance that you occasionally work remotely. ‌After‌ ‌all,‌ ‌62% of employees between 22 and 65 say they work remotely ‌occasionally.

So, with that in mind, here are 10 work-from-home habits you need to slash to build productivity.

1. Taking “flex time” too far.

Often, work-from-home jobs come with more freedom. ‌After‌ ‌all, there’s no set time to show up‌ ‌to work in many cases. ‌So, it’s certainly awesome to have this “flex time.” But you also don’t want to overdo it.

Two possibilities can sabotage your productivity in the absence of a schedule for your work hours.

The first is starting work too late in the day. This might not be a problem if you’re a night owl and working later anyway. But what if you’re a parent? Let’s say that you don’t get into work mode until 11 a.m., but have to get the kids at 2:30? That doesn’t give you much time to get as much done as you would like to — or need to get done.

Secondly, you can lose‌‌ ‌‌your‌‌r downtime ‌‌to‌‌ ‌‌overwork. ‌According to The Economist, people in April and May of 2020 reported working 30 minutes longer than they did from‌ ‌January‌ ‌through‌ ‌March‌ ‌of‌ ‌2019. Over the past few years, working after hours and on weekends has become more common. ‌In addition, those commuting minutes might‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌consumed‌ ‌by‌‌ ‌‌paperwork‌‌ ‌‌or‌‌ ‌‌video‌‌ ‌‌calls.

You need to set regular hours when working from home in either case. This will create consistency and a routine, but it will also help you establish boundaries.

2. Living a sedentary lifestyle.

Even before the pandemic, it was found that, on average, we sit daily for 7.7 hours. The problem has only gotten worse since the pandemic. ‌An Upright Pose survey of 2,000 remote and hybrid workers in the US found alarming ‌results.

  • Since working remotely, 60% of employees have reduced their mobility by over 50%.
  • Remote workers average 16 steps to their workstation from bed.
  • On‌ ‌a‌ ‌typical‌ ‌remote‌ ‌workday,‌ ‌one‌ ‌in‌ ‌three‌ ‌workers‌ ‌sits ‌in‌ ‌their‌ ‌work‌ ‌chairs‌ ‌the‌ ‌entire‌ ‌day, and‌ ‌63%‌ ‌walk‌ ‌only‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌the‌ ‌bathroom‌ ‌or‌ ‌kitchen. ‌Additionally, 24% of remote workers never leave the house.
  • Despite the 8,000 steps per day recommended by health experts, nearly half of remote workers take fewer than 1,000 steps during work hours.
  • 50%‌ ‌of respondents report pain in the lower back, 48% in the shoulders, and 52% in the eyes.
  • Around 82% of workers under 35 reported experiencing a physical health issue for the first time over the past year, and 70% of them sought medical treatment.
  • 78%‌ ‌of respondents say they are concerned about the long-term health effects of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

How can you counter this sedentary lifestyle?

Well, the obvious answer is to be more active. “If possible, create a daily routine to become second nature, like brushing your teeth,” suggests Deanna Ritchie, Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. “For example, working out first thing in the morning or going for a long walk after lunch.”

Deanna also suggests the following:

  • Use a sit-stand desk.
  • Stand or walk during calls.
  • Set ‌alerts to remind you to stretch.
  • Make chores, like yard work or vacuuming, more intense by picking up‌ ‌the place.
  • Keep moving‌ ‌throughout‌ ‌the‌ ‌day. ‌You can, for‌ ‌example,‌ ‌do‌ ‌heal-raises‌ ‌or push-ups‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌counter‌ ‌while‌ ‌your‌ ‌morning‌ ‌coffee‌ ‌is‌ ‌brewing.

3. Choosing the wrong workspace.

The key to successfully working from home? First and foremost — choosing the right‌ ‌place‌ to work.

For example, you’ll want a quiet and more private space when taking calls or doing video conferences. If you don’t want to get distracted by others, find a room with a door. ‌Keeping it closed signals to others that you don’t want interruptions. ‌Consequently, you are more likely to go about your day as if you were at the‌ ‌office.

What if you don’t have a spare room for a home office? Could you convert another area in your home into an office? Perhaps the garage or basement would work for a cozy office spot? Do you have a yard to place a tiny house or insulated shed?

If not, there’s nothing wrong with working with what you’ve got—for instance, designating your kitchen table as your workplace during working hours.

Or, consider occasionally getting out of the office. For example, you might get more done if you set up shop in a cafe, library, or coworking space.

4. Multitasking.

Could you talk on your phone and fold laundry or walk the dog simultaneously? ‌Of course. ‌This is probably not a great idea when dealing with tasks like deep work, which are more challenging. ‌You’re in the minority even if you think you’re an expert. Only 2% of people are actually proficient at‌ ‌this.

So,‌ ‌instead‌ ‌of‌ ‌attempting‌ ‌to‌ ‌do‌ ‌the‌ ‌impossible,‌ ‌‌‌commit to monotasking.

“We’ve been sold the myth that multitasking is a valuable skill, giving us the ability to get it all done – but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” explains business coach Ryan Jackson, author of The Success Rebellion.

“A more productive approach is to devote days or half-days to themes or closely related tasks,” ‌he‌ ‌says. “That way, it’s easier to knock jobs down one at a time, and even if you do get distracted, it’s quicker to pick up the thread again.”

5. Temptation to evade work.

HighSpeedInternet.com surveyed 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older who currently or have worked from home for its report titled Work From Home Wrap Up 2021: The Expected, the Bad, and the Naughty. And there were some interesting findings.

77% of respondents used their work computers to use social media and shop online during work‌ ‌hours. Over half said they played video games or streamed shows ‌instead‌ ‌of‌ ‌working.

Also, inevitable distractions easily lured most survey respondents ‌away‌ ‌from‌ ‌work. ‌When asked what types of distractions they encounter:

  • 29% ‌attributed it to food
  • 23% to entertainment
  • 19% to household tasks
  • 9% ‌to‌ ‌caring for‌ ‌family‌ ‌members‌ ‌or‌ ‌pets
  • 9% to miscellaneous activities
  • 6% to sleeping or staying in bed

Following are some specific types of distractions mentioned by respondents:

  • “I mine for crypto several times a day to give myself a break.”
  • “I eat and drink my fruit punch and play ‘Call of Duty.”
  • “Eating popcorn.”
  • “Wish to abolish capitalism.”
  • “I pretend I’m not home and don’t answer the call.”

It’s not easy to fight back against distractions. But when it’s time to focus on work, turn off your phone and even unplug your TV or gaming console. Also, schedule time to eat healthy meals and snacks, have downtime and attend to your pets and yourself.

6. Working from bed.

“Beds are designed to make you feel relaxed, supported, and ready for rest,” notes Drew Miller for Coworker. “They’re not designed for work or prolonged sitting up periods.” ‌As a result, working in bed may harm your health and well-being in unexpected ways, such as aches and pains. It can also interfere with your sleep.

Moreover, working from impairs your productivity. For example, you may get distracted by having the TV on in the background. Or, maybe, you’re just so comfy that you take an extended nap. And, you also don’t have easy access to the tools you need to get your work done.

In short, work anywhere else in your home except your bed.

7. No transition between work and home.

A commute home or a workout after work would signal the end of the workday — and it also signals the beginning of‌ ‌downtime‌ ‌at home. ‌Unfortunately, today, many people have no‌ ‌such transition‌. ‌That poses a challenge to maintaining your energy.

“Our commutes used to serve as a transition, and now that period of time has evaporated,” says Sarah Ohanesian of SO Productive, productivity coach, speaker, and trainer.

Again, creating a designated “work area” inside your house can also help you separate work from home life. ‌Will your home office resemble a traditional office? Probably not. But keeping all your necessary items in one spot can help you separate your workday from your personal‌ ‌life.

Additionally, you can establish after work transitions, such;

  • Setting up a wrap-up routine like reviewing your schedule for tomorrow or tidying up your workspace.
  • Turning off your work laptop.
  • Creating an evening intention.
  • Listening to a podcast.
  • Going for a walk or exercising.
  • Changing your clothes.
  • Cooking dinner.

8. Being uncalm.

The ongoing pandemic definitely has taken a toll on us. ‌Gallup’s 2021 State of the Workplace report found that 45% of people felt the pandemic significantly impacted their lives. ‌Additionally, 57% reported feeling stressed on a daily basis.

As a result, it’s essential to have some tools to help cope with ‌stress. Examples include deep breathing a few times a day, calling a friend, laughing, or working out. ‌Chronic stress can cause burnout and many health problems.

Observe any tightening of the shoulders or a raised heart rate. And, if possible, relieve‌ ‌the‌ ‌stress. For me, that’s making self-care a priority by scheduling it in my calendar.

9. Poor personal hygiene.

“Remote work offers you flexibility, but some people carry it too far,” says Vartika Kashyap, Chief Marketing [email protected] “Working in pajamas all day long, for example, does no good for your productivity or morale.” Moreover, when sitting continuously for hours, it’s not unusual for remote workers to neglect their personal hygiene.

“You may not realize, but there is a strong connection between what you wear and your mood,” adds Vartika. ‌For example, if you work without taking a bath or wear wrinkled clothes, you feel lousy, unorganized, and unkempt.

How can you slash this unhealthy habit? It’s pretty obvious.

Wake up early, shave regularly, take a bath before you start to work, and put your neatly ironed workwear on,” she recommends. “You will see how it makes a world of difference to your overall mood.”

10‌. ‌Failure‌ ‌to‌ ‌detach‌ ‌and‌ ‌disengage.

If you disconnect from work and ignore the emails in your inbox until tomorrow or later, you will grow as a person and be a better employee. Here is a fascinating study from‌ ‌the Journal‌ ‌of‌ ‌Experimental‌ ‌Social Psychology. The findings suggest that people who can’t stop feeling like they’re being lazy and unproductive while relaxing tend to feel less happy and more anxious, stressed, and depressed.

In other words, leisure and relaxation should not be considered‌‌ ‌‌a‌ ‌waste‌‌ ‌‌of‌‌ ‌‌time. Make sure to take frequent breaks throughout the day to catch your breath. You also should block out your calendar for non-work activities, like yoga or dinner with friends.

And I would also strongly advise establishing “tech-free” zones in your home. Examples could be the dining room or bedroom. These areas should be reserved for undisturbed meals or rest.

Image Credit: energepic; Pexels; Thanks!

Slash These 10 Work-From-Home Habits to Build Productivity was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

How to Plan Your Lawn Care Routine

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Lawn Care

Warmer weather is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you can ditch the winter coat, take a walk, and maybe hit the pool. But, on the other hand, you have sunburns, bugs, and lawn care to worry about now. Here’s how to plan your lawn care routine.

What Kind of Time Constraints Should You Have for Your Lawn Care Routine

With sunburn and bugs, you can apply a spray and go your way. With lawn care, on the other hand, a bit more time investment is required. Grass needs to be mowed, debris needs to be picked up, and weeds will need to be continuously eradicated.

To keep your mowing, fertilizing, and other necessary tasks in order, the best thing you can do is learn to manage your time. Using an online calendar will help you keep your lawn care routine nailed down while optimizing your efforts so you can go back to enjoying the best of what summer has to offer:

Contract Some Assistance

Lawn Care in the summer isn’t always the most fun activity to pursue. Blistering heat and seasonal allergies on top of manual labor are enough to make anyone consider downsizing to a home without a yard. Instead of pushing yourself until the breaking point, consider contracting some assistance to keep your lawn care routine on track.

There is likely a kid or two in your neighborhood willing to mow your lawn once a week or two for $20. That money is well-spent if it means you get to maintain a nice yardwithout needing to leave the air conditioning for too long. Plus, those kids will learn the value of hard work and have to spend money on some fun summer excursions.

Professional contractors will cost more but can be just as helpful. For example, you can enlist a company that does an annual pest control spray on your lawn or takes care of obnoxious weeds. These recurring services are easy to set up and will continue to run until you make a cancellation.

Keep Track of the Weather

The ever-changing weather will really affect how and when you should take care of your lawn. For example, mowing your lawn the day after a rainstorm isn’t always the best idea because wet grass can clog up mower blades. However, the day after a storm might mean that you will have many sticks and leaves strewn about your lawn that need to be picked up and disposed of.

With an online Calendar, you can note essential changes in the weather and how your lawn care routine will be adjusted accordingly. Otherwise, you might be ill-prepared for a sudden change in weather that disrupts your ordinary routine. Being prepared for changes in advance is the best way to maintain normalcy.

The first days of spring are a perfect example of this. Farmers and gardeners need to be aware of those random days that feel like winter in early spring. Keeping track of the weather ahead of time allows them to protect their plants and crops from cold snaps that would otherwise ruin their harvest.

Know Your Plants

Part of lawn care for you might involve caring for various flowers that add some color to your home. Different flowers and plants follow different timelines for their care and growth. For instance, daffodils bloom in March and April, while peonies typically won’t start blooming until May.

If you’re planning on growing daffodils and other early bloomers, your lawn care routine will need to start earlier than usual. You will need to use your calendar to plan accordingly. Tilling the soil, beginning a watering schedule, and clearing out winter debris will need to be done before planting flowers.

If flowers and a garden aren’t in your summer plans, you can let your grass dictate when your lawn care routine needs to begin. Once your lawn looks long enough to clip for the first time, your lawn care routine can officially start.

Record What You Do

A good lawn care routine is developed over time. Each year you can learn a different trick that makes maintaining your property easier and more efficient. If you record what you do with your lawn and garden — and learn new things about its care — your lawn care routine for the following year will be even better.

Online calendars are perfect tools for recording a lawn care routine. You can look at the previous summer to see how often you needed to mow, water, and fertilize your lawn. This will act as a reference for the next year. So lawn care is less of a guessing game and more of a surgical procedure.

You can even keep an eye out for what your neighbors are doing. Your experienced, elderly neighbor may very well have lawn care down to a science. You can learn a lot by asking them about their procedures or trying to emulate their actions and timeline.

Even though it’s hard work, lawn care can be incredibly rewarding. First, you’ll have a home and yard that you can be proud to live in. A good yard can also be the site for memories by hosting events, playing with your children, or even just reading a good book in a lawn chair overlooking your achievements.

Image Credit: Armin Rimoldi; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Plan Your Lawn Care Routine was originally published on Calendar by Max Palmer

3 Time Management Tips for New Businesses

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Rules of Time Management

There are a lot of factors that go into starting a business. You need enough capital to begin operations before you can hope to turn a profit. You need a good idea that can sell and the systems to back it up. The most important factor of all, however, just might be your time management.

You could have a million-dollar idea or a million dollars to start a business, but you won’t get very far if you’re not managing your time properly. With all the hats you’re wearing as a business founder, you need to make the very best use of your limited hours. Wasted time is wasted money, and the lack of efficiency can even hurt your business image.

Here are some ways you can get your time management skills in the right place when starting a new business:

1. Maximize Time Management during Training

Even if you start your business by yourself, eventually you’re going to need some help if you’re trying to grow. This means hiring employees and training them in their positions. In order for training to be effective, you need to set aside time for it and have a good plan in place for carrying out training while maintaining business operations.

Start by creating a timetable for training your new hires. How long should training last, and what skills and company knowledge should new employees have acquired by each milestone? Now you can create an actual plan to make that happen instead of pushing back certain trainings indefinitely.

There are two specific tactics you might consider to make training more time-efficient. E-learning modules will enable new hires to self-schedule training during what might otherwise be downtime in their days. They can even do their learning remotely on the go. And because the training takes place via an online module, it doesn’t require other employees to step away from their usual work to train new hires.

That said, there is some employee education that is better accomplished in one-to-one fashion. Sometimes there’s no good substitute for seeing for yourself how something gets done. To help show your newbies the ropes, allow them to shadow an employee with the same role or one who performs similar duties. The veteran employee can share knowledge the rookie employee needs without having to sacrifice their time management in their day-to-day responsibilities.

2. Get on the Same Page — In Your Calendar

Part of your training plan might include making sure you have enough staff on hand to complete necessary tasks while training is taking place. While e-learning and shadowing will minimize the amount of time current employees have to spend training new hires, they’re still likely to spend some. You’ll need to ensure that your customers are still being taken care of and no one is feeling overwhelmed while attention and resources are temporarily diverted toward training. Proper scheduling will make this a lot easier than it might sound at first.

A team calendar will help ensure that all your bases are covered with collaborative time management. Participants in training sessions will get automatic calendar invites, alerting them to where they need to be and when. Veteran employees will know when they need to find a colleague to cover the phones, for example, and the team calendar will show them at a glance who is available. This simple tool will help you keep everyone on the same page every single day so long as you keep it updated. Using a team calendar will help cut down miscommunications and help everyone stay on top of everyday responsibilities.

Beyond the training phase, a team calendar can be used to organize team meetings, coordinate individual schedules, and outline project deadlines. Managers can even look at scheduling links as a way to effectively plan meetings with their direct reports. This tool eliminates the back-and-forth emails and helps prevent accidental overbooking.

3. Allow Hybrid Work Options When Possible

Effective time management is about getting as much done in as little time possible. Sometimes that means rethinking where the work gets done. You can save your team a lot of time by enabling hybrid work options for positions that make sense.

If you hired a web designer or a social media manager, almost everything they do will be online. They can do their job just as well from home as they can in the office. By allowing them to work from home, they can save time and money on commutes and lunches out. The time they regain can allow them to get some extra projects done throughout the week.

The ability to work from home also means that employees can still get tasks done; even when they’re home with a sick child or waiting for the dishwasher repair person. The work-life balance that hybrid work provides can also make your employees happier and more fulfilled, causing them to use their time on the clock more productively.

Time management isn’t easy, but it also doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right planning tools, and flexibility, your new business will be in a great place right from the get-go.

Image Credit: Anete Lusina; Pexels; Thanks!

4 Ways to Boost Your Productivity When You’ve Hit a Wall

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4 Ways Boost Productivity Hit Wall

If being productive were easy, everyone would have scads of Employee of the Month plaques and closets stuffed with achievement awards. Alas, productivity doesn’t come so easily to everyone. A lot of dedication and resilience is required to maintain peak productivity over long periods of time, and even those who are able to do so need all the help they can get.

It’s likely you’ll hit a wall every now and then, even when your best intentions are focused on being productive. What the world’s greatest achievers do when they hit that wall is to find a way around it. Here are a few strategies that they use to boost their productivity during these times and that you can implement in your own life as well:

1. Take a Screen Break

Most jobs today require people to spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and your position is probably no exception. Everyone from marketers to music producers spends hours in front of a computer navigating through different tools and apps to complete their daily tasks. After extended periods of time, the strain from screen light and the sameness of the work can take a toll on your productivity.

You can fix this by scheduling in some period screen breaks. Taking a pause from work does not mean switching to your smartphone to scroll through social media. Instead, take a short walk outside or do some simple meditation. This will allow your mind and body to reset and recover from the stress and strain of the workday. You’ll be able to return from your quick break feeling refreshed and reenergized.

2. Eat a Healthy Snack

Your body uses up a lot of energy while working, even if you’re just sitting at a desk. Getting up for a stroll can help, but what if you are in a time crunch and need to kickstart your productivity to meet an upcoming deadline? Try a healthy snack instead.

Even a couple bites of the right foods can give you the energy you need to push through the next hour or so of work. A protein bar is an excellent example of a snack that can provide a lot of energy in a short period of time. Healthy snacks are always best because they contain ingredients that will actually lift you up rather than give you a quick sugary buzz.

Many people drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks to boost their productivity throughout the day. This is a fine idea as long as you’re able to moderate your intake. While caffeine does boost your brain’s serotonin levels, too much coffee can leave you jittery and worse off than before you grabbed your third cup.

3. Get an Accountability Buddy

There will be days when, despite your best efforts, there is nothing you can do to boost your productivity on your own. On days like this, you’ll benefit from having an accountability buddy. This is a friend, family member, or co-worker who will keep you accountable to the goals you set and the responsibilities you hold to make sure you’re doing everything you need to.

A common example of an accountability buddy is a gym partner. Unfortunately for many of us, getting motivated to exercise is not an easy task. A gym buddy will inspire you to continue chasing down your health and wellness goals even on the days when you’d rather sleep in.

An accountability buddy can help keep you honest when you’re trying to start a business, break a bad habit, or even finish one last task before clocking out of work for the day. If you know your buddy’s going to ask whether you made all four of your planned sales calls today, for example, you’ll be less tempted to leave the fourth for tomorrow. In return, you can be an accountability buddy for them. Together, you’ll help each other to be a little bit better every single day.

4. Switch Gears

If you’re stuck on a particularly difficult task or project, it’s much easier to hit a productivity wall. Instead of bashing your head against it repeatedly hoping it will budge, consider changing course for a moment instead. By shifting gears to a new task or project, you can maintain your productivity for the day and avoid losing momentum.

Let’s say you’re a student working on a particularly difficult math assignment. One of the early problems is giving you a lot of trouble, and now your productivity is at a standstill. Instead of redoing the same problem over and over again, skip it for now and give the next one a try.

By changing gears ever so slightly, you can reset yourself while still getting work accomplished. The next problem might be easier to solve and may even shed some light on what you were doing incorrectly before. At the end of the day, you’ll at least have part of the assignment completed instead of struggling with the same equation all day long.

Once you’ve developed the perfect strategy for breaking down your productivity barriers, you’ll be able to fill your days with many more achievements. Don’t be afraid to take some breaks every now and again, but also be sure you don’t let a little wall get in the way of having a productive and fulfilling day.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

When Time Management Can’t Help

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When Time Management Can't Help

The concept of time management is often misunderstood and generally unsuccessful in minimizing overload and stress. Although the emphasis on efficiency is admirable — true overload is self-defeating and futile.

Initiate clear time guidelines for selecting what types of activities you won’t do, and develop processes like establishing a day when managers conduct no meetings. There is a zen to taming time, not confronting it.

Remember, there is no such thing as time in the metaverse.

The persistent sensation that there is never enough time causes much stress. We do need to learn time management to tame and manage our time. We aim to convert hour-long sessions into half-hour sprints or schedule more minor activities to reduce wasted time.

But we want to use time management as a stress reducer — not an anxiety producer. As we improve our efficiency, we may add more duties and begin to feel a more significant strain. Attack the core causes of worldly stressors: the sheer amount of work, choices, and diversions.

But time management should be used to reduce stress by freeing up time to take care of yourself. Maybe get to the gym, take a walk or have a massage. Think time management for freedom — not time management as a whip.

Time Management’s Trap

The shift to remote work after the Covid-19 epidemic created a fascinating natural experiment illustrating the time management problem. Working from home saves time (commuting and business travel), and approximately half of remote employees say they are more productive.

A study by Atlassian found that self-reported time savings and productivity increases are ineffective. The average workday has grown by 30 minutes worldwide — the reverse of results from individuals spending their time more efficiently. Complicating matters, the extra 30 minutes of work have mostly come at the price of evening leisure time.

Time management assures us that we can easily accommodate all of our tasks by being more efficient. But, like digging a hole at the beach, time management requires a lot of water to fill it. An hour on your schedule is like a signal flare proclaiming your ability to take on another project or position. So keep thinking about your ability to now claim the freedom to take care of yourself.

Time management has never been useless—productivity matters. But in a society plagued by burnout, we need techniques to reduce the anxiety producers rather than accommodate the volume.

You will want these three options to escape the trap.

1. Reduce task volume

“I’ll handle the budget update for next week’s meeting,” “I’ll pick up something for supper on the way home,” and so on.

As soon as you agree to take on an extra task — the pressure to deliver starts. Any agreement to be broken or renegotiated adds stress and guilt to the situation. The way you hold the line depends on whether your to-do list grows from assigned duties. Or does it grow things you choose to take on?

Prioritize tasks instead of time. When a supervisor asks you to accomplish something, answering with “I don’t have time for that” may seem overly abrupt. Instead, ask, “Where should I prioritize this task versus x, y, and z?” Answering in this manner achieves two goals. In the first place — this gives your superior a glimpse of what you’re working on — and sometimes lets you off the hook. Nevertheless — they set the priority, not you.

2. Reframe the dialogue from a binary option to a collaborative debate

If you want to add tasks, calendar-block first. We typically overestimate our capabilities, leading to over-exertion. Our calendars show some daylight, so we believe, “I can certainly do this by Friday.”

Then comes Friday, and we have to renegotiate.

Best advice — get your self-care actions and family obligation on your Calendar first. If others are synced to your Calendar, and you don’t want them to see your plans, frame the verbiage differently.

My weekly massage appointment says, “On point meeting with Sarah H.” I do combine the massage time with my lunch hour and pound a boiled egg down on the drive over. The point is, we’re not trying to get out of our intense, crowded, stressful work — we come back refreshed and work harder and faster. Putting in time for yourself makes it so that you don’t resent the extra half hour, hour, or longer you stay after work.

The issue is that your Calendar typically only displays synchronous work (tasks you compete with others simultaneously). Then you include meetings, phone calls, etc. Your to-dos are a list of agreements with others for asynchronous labor (tasks you do alone, not in real-time with others).

The answer? Merge your Calendar and to-do list by scheduling time for each task. Getting the complete picture of your obligations (and self-care) allows you to assess your capabilities before taking on more.

3. Decide on principles

We’ve spent the last couple of years making decisions: Do I send my kids to school? Can I visit them? Is it safe to go to work? Constantly facing difficult decisions with limited information can lead to cognitive overload. The overthinking and unknowns in cognitive overload are where mental work demands outpace our coping ability. Cognitive overload raises the chance of mistakes and leads to feelings of overwhelm.

You might start by replacing choices with absolute principles. For example, the science of weight loss management teaches us that “I won’t eat after 7 p.m.” is more successful than “I won’t nibble after 7 p.m.”

Can I have this cup of yogurt? How about some fruit?

The ultimate guideline of no eating after 7 p.m. closes the door. The choices vanish — the result is less overload.

Author and podcaster Tim Ferriss calls the overload scenario “finding the one option that eliminates 100 decision.” Ferriss set a goal of not reading any new books in 2020 — he would finish the ones he’d started. Since writers and their publicists bombarded him with dozens of new or impending books every week, this blanket principle relieved him of hundreds of book-by-book choices.

Steve Jobs famously wore the same thing (a black t-shirt and jeans) every day to avoid morning clothing selection weariness. Jon Mackey is a managing director of a Canadian business. He built his establishment with “No meetings on Fridays.” After failing to safeguard time for serious work by choosing which meetings to accept or refuse, Jon Mackey devised a weekly concentration day.

4. Minimize Distractions with Structure Not Will

Diversions prevent us from completing activities and making critical judgments. Interruptions contribute to overwhelming by preventing us from feeling like we are making headway against the causes of the pressure.

Trying to ignore digital platforms with fortitude puts you up against an army of our generation’s brightest brains. These most brilliant brains focus on exploiting what Facebook founder Sean Parker calls “vulnerabilities in human psychology” to grab your attention. When it comes to distraction, structure always wins.

Several company executives set aside time throughout the day to switch off their laptop’s Wi-Fi to concentrate. Others have scheduled 30-minute meetings for their staff to ask questions and obtain guidance. Then fewer individuals ask, “Can I grab you for five minutes?”

Cathy Engelbert, past Deloitte CEO, banned back-to-back conferences. So instead, it was a 10-minute break for SMORs or tiny minutes of reflection. This fast recovery break meant she wasn’t distracted by the following meeting or carrying over the previous meeting’s agenda.


The answer isn’t to become more efficient and just accept more work, choices, and diversions. Instead, reduce your workload, make choices based on principles, and create a structure to prevent distractions.

Have your new mantra be, Simplify, and make your time management choices reflect a renewed determination to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your life.

When Time Management Can’t Help was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

Image Credit: Tara Winstead; Pexels; Thank you!

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