Archive for the ‘Time Management’ category

Time Management Is Self Management

February 19th, 2013

Time ManagementWe look to tools and techniques to help us manage time.  And they can, to a certain extent – that being the degree to which we take a disciplined approach to their application.  The effectiveness of any time management tool is squarely in our hands.  To manage your time more effectively, you have to improve the way you manage your self.

If your time is mismanaged or wasted, you’re the one at fault.  In knowing that, you give yourself a chance to own your power to change the situation.  You can begin using your time more consistently to do what best serves your goals and helps you live a better, more satisfying life, now.

Here are two time management strategies that, applied regularly, will help you manage yourself and can have a ripple effect on your behavior as the owner and manager of your time.

Make the Meaningful a Priority Put time in your schedule, at least weekly, perhaps daily, to do something meaningful, in addition to your daily work.  This might include time with loved ones, time to meditate, to read for pleasure, time to exercise, time for volunteer activities.  Determine what adds meaning to your life then make sure you add it to your list of priorities.

Build Flex Time into Your Schedule By that I mean leave two to three hours each day unscheduled.  Block it off on your calendar as “Flex Time” or whatever you want to call it.  The point is, it’s scheduled time on your calendar.  Don’t double book yourself.  You can move your Flex Time or shift it, but don’t delete it and give it away.  Keep this time sacred and use it for thinking, planning, handling the unexpected, dealing with emergencies.  As a task-driven society, we underestimate the value of devoting time to thinking, planning or just breathing.

The unexpected is inevitable.  If you plan for the unanticipated, you’ll spend less time putting out fires and more time focused on the activities that fulfill you and move you closer to your goals.

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You’re Busy, Busy, Busy! But How Productive Are You?

October 2nd, 2012

Are you among the many people for whom working long hours, multitasking and pressing to meet deadlines have become a way of life?

In the short-term, these are practical solutions.  But, research tells us that this pattern, over the long-term, increases stress levels and results in lower levels of productivity.  Eventually, even though you’re plenty busy, you begin to accomplish less.

To accomplish more, you have to find ways to leverage your time and resources more effectively.  Here are 3 quick and simple strategies that can help you accomplish more, with less stress.

Organize your work life – email, files, drawers and desktop.  Doing so will enable you to more readily find what it is you need, saving valuable minutes, as well as the cost – time and dollars of unnecessary redos and purchases.  Just as physical mail and papers can be placed in project folders, so can email.  That puts their access at the ready.

Tackle your most challenging tasks when you’re at your best.  For example, if you’re a morning person, take on important projects that require thought during those hours.

Activity logs can provide important insight into how you spend your time.  For one week, jot down how you use your time.  Each time you begin a new activity, make a note of what it is and how much time it required.  This will help you get a handle on whether you’re spending your time on high-value, high priority tasks or wasting more time than needed on low-priority meetings, interruptions or other distractions.

Good time management requires self-awareness and self-management.  The payback in productivity will be well worth the effort.

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Meditation 101: You’re Too Busy NOT to Try It!

June 19th, 2012

Guest Blog By Kyle Ruffin

If like me, you read the book and/or saw the movie “Eat. Pray. Love.” –  you may have gotten the impression that meditation is a lot of work!   References made to the daily reciting of the ancient yogic text “Bhagavad Gita” made it seem like school work memorization.  It looked very nice and clearly beneficial for Elizabeth Gilbert, but not for me!  Just another to-do list item that I can live without.  Thank you very much!

Then I took a Mindful Stress Reduction class, and meditation was at its core.  There were no mantra’s or memorization.  There was no ancient language.  I learned that at its most basic, meditation is about doing nothing.  It’s about stopping our racing mind long enough for it to clear and function more efficiently.  I can do that.  I can do “nothing.”  Or can I?

The facilitator (shout out to Hope Honeyman) introduced us to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s breath and body scan meditations which – as you might imagine – are all about focusing on the breath and the sensation of being in your body.  The biggest challenge was keeping our minds from going back to our insane to-do lists, our questions about “what if,” and our “Monkey Mind” that constantly chatters away in our heads.  The only learning required was learning how to silence the chatter by focusing, refocusing and focusing again on breath and the task of “being” NOT “doing.”  Each time I pushed my “to do list” out of my head, I could feel the tension melt away with it.  It felt like my brain thawing after a long freeze.

We did outdoor walking meditations – taking slow deliberate steps, feeling the ground beneath our feet and scanning our bodies from head to toe, becoming aware of how each body part felt at that moment.  We did an eating meditation.  Too often we gobble down our food, never taking the time to enjoy the flavors and sensations of the things we crave.  There’s all kinds of evidence that says people who practice mindful eating eat less because they enjoy their food more.

Just closing your eyes and listening to everything within earshot is a great mediation – shutting out everything else is a way to train your mind to focus.

My favorite was Kabat-Zinn’s body scan meditation, which always left me feeling centered, calm and able to complete full sentences in a single bound.  That’s my demon, my mind races so much that I forget my point before I get to the end of my sentence.  We live in a “what’s next” society, rushing ahead in our minds and rarely, if ever, enjoying where we are right now – even when we’re doing something we love.  We wonder why we don’t enjoy life as much — why we need more and more stimulation and stuff to make us happy.  I’m here to tell you there is a cure.  It’s free, non-invasive and requires no prescription.

At the end of the 8-week program, the women along for this great journey raved about how much better life was after incorporating meditation and awareness to their every day existence.  Blood pressure was lower.  Reactions were calmer.  Attitudes were more positive and coping skills were more integrated.

Wanna try it out?  Here’s a little dose. After reading this, get into a comfortable supported position.  Close your eyes.  Relax your face and shoulders.  Then focus on nothing else but the coolness of your breath entering your nostrils and the warmth of your breath as it exits.  Take 20 long breaths.  When your mind starts racing, shut it down. It’s okay — the to-do list will be there when you’re done.  But more importantly, you’ll have restored and refreshed your mind in ways that will put that to-do list in perspective and make tackling it much easier.  I guarantee it!

IF YOU WANT MORE…

Search online for “free guided meditations,” or check out Jon Kabat Zinn’s Guided Mindfulness Meditation – which offers 4 meditations that are great for beginners.

If you’re in the South Jersey area and want to learn more about Mindful Stress Reduction classes, contact Hope Honeyman, LCSW.

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Guest Blog: Five Tips to Manage Overwhelm

February 29th, 2012

Linda Siniscal

By Linda Siniscal

Does it seem like you need to accomplish more in less time than ever before?  Just about every small business owner I know is overwhelmed with everything they need to do.  Many factors are contributing to this feeling:  new technologies, increased government regulation, a need to market harder, and less access to capital are just a few examples.

Is there truly a way to find an extra hour each day?  Yes, there is, and here are five tips you can put in place to reduce the feeling of overwhelm, free up time, and feel more in control of your business.

1.    Get stuff done off prime time. 

Most people drive to work between 7 and 9 and come home between 4 and 6.  Save yourself 15-30 minutes per day or more by coming in before or after the rush.

Apply this same idea to your weekly errands or times when you need to stand in line.  Go to a restaurant a little early (or late) to avoid the busiest times.   Go to the grocery store during the week instead of on Saturday.

Doing this for 10-12 errands per week will save an hour a week or more.  Combine that with the time you’ll save in rush hour, and you could save as much as three hours a week using this idea.  Even if you can apply this idea to only one or two days a week, you’ll still be ahead of the game.

2.    Delegate clerical or personal tasks.

Make a list of all the tasks you are doing that a minimum wage earner could do, and hire a college student for a few hours a week.  You’ll benefit from systematizing the tasks you delegate – they will get done more efficiently – and you will have freed up a few hours a week once your worker is trained.

3.    Practice Power Hour.

Carve out one hour a day to complete the most profitable task for your business.  This might be making sales calls, meeting with a power partner, or designing a new service or product to offer clients.  It’s best if it’s the first hour in your day.  In any case, the time should be sacred, with no checking email, no answering the phone, and no texting.

Your business will really accelerate when you make Power Hour a regular practice.

4.    Check email and social media less often.

Turn off automatic send and receive in your Outlook or email application.  Instead, close (yes, close!) your email application for most of the day.  Check it only at 8am, noon, and 4pm. When you can break the addictive cycle, you will have fewer interruptions, be able to focus, and do higher quality work.

Likewise, if you need to spend time on social media, set a timer before you start.  When the bell rings, that’s it! Get back to work.

5.    Nail your time wasters. 

The only real way to determine where your primary time drains are is to track your time, minute by minute for a couple of days.  When you review the log, you’ll be able to see what’s going on and what you can do to prevent time from slipping through your fingers.

When you can use your time wisely, you’ll not only get more done, you’ll get the things done that matter to you.

Linda Siniscal, Certified Bookkeeper and owner of Third Hand Bookkeeping Services offers virtual bookkeeping services to small businesses since 1994. Subscribe to our bi-monthly eNewsletter VirtualConnections™, providing tips and resources to make your work life easier. You can subscribe by visiting www.yourextrahand.com.

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