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Time Waster #6: Not having a clear “to do” list

secretary with many notesI have seen people with to do lists that are as long as my arm. And I have a long arm! Do you have your to dos on your phone? Do you have them in a book? In your mind? What about on your fridge? Or maybe you have a combination of all of these.

Time Saver #6: Have one system for keeping track of your “to dos.” If you like to have your list on your phone, keep it there. If you are like me and are really visual, have it on one piece of paper.

The most important thing about to-do lists is that they only have 6 things on them. Start by putting the most important thing that you need to do tomorrow at the top. Chances are it is not checking emails. If you do not get all of the items done on your list, you would take the unfinished items and make them your number 1 or 2 priorities for the next day. I would also recommend looking at your list and allotting time frames for each task. I catch myself with having very high expectations of what I can get done in a day and low expectations of how long a task will take, and I suspect I’m not alone there. Budget in some cushion time — usually about 30% — to give you some wiggle room.

What are some ways you can streamline your to-do lists? And what do you notice about how priorities shift when you only have 6 items?

By |July 29th, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments

Time Waster #5: Not being able to say NO

What is your time worth to you? $50.00 an hour? More? Once you have spent your 24 hours today, you will never ever get them back.

Do you regard your time as sacred? Do you treat it with the same respect that you treat other people’s time? If someone wants a favor from you during your work or relaxation time, what’s your response?

Time Saver #5: Beautiful boundaries. Here’s the truth: If the time you designate for your “priorities” is in practice up for grabs — doing chores, running errands, doing things for other people whenever they ask, surfing the Net — then the reality is that you do not regard it as sacred time.

Find a time management system that works and stick to it for as long as it works .

Take 15 minutes at the end of each week to plan for the following week. Block off certain times that you will commit to whatever it is that’s a priority for you. Regard this time as non-negotiable. Mark it in your calendar like you would any other important appointment. Learn to say NO and set boundaries.

Where are some areas you can practice saying no this week?

By |July 22nd, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments

Time Waster #4: A chaotic computer

Smiling woman holding the arobase signObviously technology has introduced many incredible things into our lives. But there are times when it is just another distraction in your life. How many emails are in your inbox? When was the last time you cleared out some of your files? Do you have a system set up that allows you to easily breeze through emails as they come in? It’s possible to have your Inbox at zero every single day.

Time Saver# 4: Try giving your Inbox 15 minutes and no more. The trap that the vast majority of people fall into is obsessively checking emails multiple times a day. This is a huge time waster, and it’s not necessary at all. Think about it: if something is truly urgent, you’ll get a text or a phone call, and there’s really no email that can’t sit for a few hours — 99% of emails do not require an immediate reply. Those who are masters of productivity in the business world almost universally have a strict twice-a-day time slot (often only once-a-day!) set aside for going through their Inboxes.

If you’re drowning in junk mail and don’t know where to begin, check out www.unroll.me for a super quick and free service that lassoes all your junk mail for you and allows you to unsubscribe with a quick click of a button. It’s heavenly!

Get your computer running faster by deleting your delete box. If you have dealt with all of the emails in your delete box, then there is no reason to be keeping them. This takes up room on your computer.

Clearing out your computer takes faith — trusting that whatever you recycle you will not need, and if you ever do need it again for some reason, you will be able to find it from a different source.

By |July 15th, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments

Time Waster #3: Paper, paper and more paper

When the PC computer was invented, many people thought we would be paperless — but instead we have 20% more paper. WHY? Many people print things because they are fearful. They fear they might lose it on the computer; fear they might not remember what it is that they need to deal with; fear they might not have a proper trail unless it’s filed somewhere — so better print it off as a safeguard.

Why do you print things off of your computer? Challenge yourself to move more towards going paperless.

Time Saver #3: Have systems for your paper.

If you can’t go completely paperless and have your bills on a preauthorized payment system, here’s a great acronym to help you remember what your relationship to paper should look like: OHIOOnly Handle It Once.

This is the best rule of thumb when it comes to paper. If your credit card bill comes in the mail, file it under the day you will deal with it. Do not even open it until you are going to pay it. This way, you’re not handing the same piece of paper multiple times — opening the envelope, looking it over, putting it in a “for later” pile, forgetting where you put it, searching for it, etc. — when you know you only need to handle it once.

There are some who think that organization kills creativity or spontaneity. I’d challenge you to just try organizing your systems — just try it, for these next several weeks. You might be surprised how clearing clutter actually opens up new ideas and spontaneous energy in unexpected ways.

By |July 8th, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments

Time Waster #2: Not being able to find what you’re looking for in 20 seconds or less

Senior business womanCan you find important papers when you need them?

Can you see by looking at your desk where your most essential writing tools are?

Do you know where your keys are?

Your glasses?

Your wallet?

Your kids? (That’s a joke.)

Maybe you’ve always struggled to stay organized, or maybe you’re what I call “situationally disorganized.” Perhaps you used to have a system, used to be able to get out of the door on time, and used to be able to find your keys. But maybe something has come up in your life that has made you unable to follow the systems you once had set up, or you have too much on your plate/mind, or life just simply got away on you.

This does not mean you have failed. It just means you need a new system — one that works for wherever your life is now. Once you start to implement these strategies, I guarantee you will be able to find what you are looking for in 20 seconds or less.

Let’s start with your workspace.

Time Saver #2: Put everything from your desk in a box. Give your desk a good cleaning. Put back only the bare necessities. Your phone, your computer, your small jar of pens/pencils, your calendar or datebook — perhaps your 1to31 Organizing System.

Keep a photo or two close by of your favorite pet or person, or an image of a place you’ve traveled or would like to see someday — any image that evokes happiness, hope, joy, and freedom.

The rest of the stuff in the box can be dealt with in 15 minutes or less. Take each piece of paper out of the box and deal with it: delegate it or dump it.

Things that get delegated are things that do not require your attention. If you have things that do require you attention ( within the next 30 days — bills to pay, cards to send, deadlines to meet) then file these to do’s in your 1to31 Organizing System.

Anything else — junk mail, fliers, that thing you’ve been kinda-sorta meaning to get to for the last six months but you know you really won’t and don’t have a desire to — let them go. Recycle them. Start fresh.

Your workspace is like a table of contents: you should be able to look and find everything you need — and if it’s not immediately in front of your eyeballs, you should at least know exactly where to turn to find it. This is the structure that holds your physical work environment together.

By |July 1st, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments