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Productivity Coaching, Time Management Consulting and Leadership Coaching for business and nonprofits - get your most important work done. Collaborating with leaders and their teams to become more strategic, focused and productive. Leadership and Board Coaching, Strategic Planning Facilitation, Productivity Coaching and Time Management Consulting, Professional Speaker.
Productivity Coach, Productivity Consultant, Leadership Coach, Time Management Coach, Business Consulting, personal productivity, time management, nonprofit, board coach, collaboration, strategic planning, facilitation, change management, leading productive teams, project planning, board development, volunteer engagement, association management, workplace productivity, executive director.
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plan Tag

use post-its to simplify planning your next project
Do you have a project to do, but don’t know where to start?  Most of us don’t have access to complex project management software, nor do we want to make the time investment to learn to use it.  I’ve developed a simple project planning process that yields many of the same results without the learning curve.

1.  Get a stack of Post-its

2.  Write down each task associated with the project. Don’t worry about writing them in any order, just write as fast as the ideas come to you.  Be sure to use a new post it for each individual task.

3.  Put the post-its in order. Consider – what has to come before another step, what would be the most logical way to do the work, if there is any significant wait time, and what would be best for you?  During this process you may think of extra steps.  Create a post-it for those steps and insert them into the process.

4.  Assign a length of time it will take to complete that step to each post-it – it could be 15 minutes, an hour or a week.

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It’s surprising to see how many of my clients are traveling at this time of year. So much is going on that sometimes people tell me they wonder if it is even worth the effort to get out of town.  Add to that the stress of re-entry and it’s no wonder our vacations don’t do such a good job of sustaining us.  Of course I have a solution – and it is in that old fashioned form of a list.

I’m all about lists supporting you in getting the right things done, and we do that by creating zones in the list.  For travel the list I suggest looks like this:

Get Out of Town with Peace

Get Out of Town with Peace

 

To make it work for you do as follows:

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Time Management Clock 24/7Time management is such a funny phrase.  We all banter it about like we understand it, but really what does it mean?  My definition of Time Management is getting done what you have to do so there is time to do what you want to do. There is such a wealth of information and tools to help manage your time – but as with everything I espouse IF IT’S NOT EASY, IT’S TOO HARD.

What works?  Here are some simple strategies you can implement starting now:

  • Set meetings with start and end times:  When setting appointments, meetings and networking don’t just set a start time SET AN END TIME.  If I’ve budgeted an hour for a coffee meeting and the person I’m meeting budgets two than one of us is going to be disappointed.  When setting meetings make it clear: “I’ve got us down from 1pm to 2pm”
  • Stay in control of interruptions: You don’t have to answer the phone when it rings – but if it is someone you want to talk to there are techniques that you can use that will keep you from getting off course.  State up front how much time you have (or want to invest): “I’ve got 20 minutes” 
  • Give your work a time budget.  Just like you know how much money you’ll spend for an item ($18 entrée ok…$38 entrée too much) think about how much time is reasonable to spend on a specific task (1 hour ok…3 hours too much).  If I have deemed a project to be worth one hours’ worth of time not only will I set a timer for an hour to cue me to stop, but I’ll set another for 45 minutes, so I know when I have 15 minutes left.  Always ask yourself “how much time is this task worth?”

When determining your time commitment keep in mind Pareto’s Principal (the 80/20 guy I talk about all the time.) You will accomplish 80% of your work in 20% of the time.  That means if you meet someone for coffee/lunch/networking you’ll have held the most important parts of the conversation in the first hour, anything additional contributes minimally.

If you thrive on deadlines, it’s better to plan for them than fight them. Worrying about if you are going to get done on time or being frustrated about how you’ve waited until the last minute is a complete waste of energy. Instead try planning your success:

  1. Plan backwards to your deadline – identify exactly when you need to finish the project. Don’t build in extra time. If it’s due Thursday at noon it needs to be done Thursday at noon.
  2. Write down the steps you need to accomplish. Identify each step on its own index card or post-it. That way you can keep the current step top of mind and not worry about anything else. Put them in order.    (more…)

A lot has been written in the news about working from home. I understand why Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo has put an end to it for her company – a lot of people who say they are working from home, do everything but work. Working from home is a privilege I wouldn’t want to lose. Here are my top 3 tips for maximizing the opportunity:

  1. Outline a Daily Plan – Be clear in what you want to accomplish. Write out specifics identifying what you want to get done. It could be a part of one big project, or many little tasks – but write it down.
  2. Make a Daily Schedule – project how much time each item on your plan is going to take and plug it into a schedule. Don’t forget the time you need to let the repairman in or to pick up your child from school. When you see your day in black-and-white it will help you from frittering time away.
  3. Create Space – I’m a huge advocate for creating effective work space. You’ll need a clear space that isn’t cluttered with distractions that take you off your game. It could be a desk, a table or a big comfy chair – but be sure that you have room to spread out. I also suggest that you have a printer close by and basic office supplies (stapler, pens, highlighters, post-its, binder clips, etc.). It’s a huge time-suck to have to keep getting up for essentials.

Endless Tasks….Overwhelming Pressure…Desire for Results…Knowing there has to be a better way….

Escaping to Walden Pond or traveling the country via RV are definitely options – but for most of us not viable ones. Minor adjustments that accumulate for noticeable change are much more desirable. Here are some of my favorite time control techniques:

MINIMIZE THRASHING

Thrashing is the computer science term for when a system spends more time switching from task to task then actually working on the task. When we spend our time thinking about what we have to do, remembering where we were in the project, and then building up momentum to get results, we are thrashing. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the meat of a project and then having to stop. I have found the best way to minimize thrashing is to plan chunks of time for a project. I’ll arrange my schedule to be able to commit 2 or 3 CONTINUOUS hours to the task. While it may be hard to find those uninterruptible hours it sure is worth it when the project is done!   (more…)