How often do you have a plan in your mind about how your day will go that gets turned upside down because of a few unplanned things (read: time-sucking stuff)? The key is having a plan that is flexible AND doable no matter what bright, shiny thing floats by.
A few things to consider…
1. Route your errands on a map.
I know it might sound a bit OCD to do this, but who cares??? Plot your errands based on location so you can keep a few more minutes to yourself (and keep more gas in your car). Does it really makes sense to go through your town from end to end without considering all your stops?
2. Keep an open slot in your schedule for bright, shiny things.
Why fight the time-sucks, especially the fun ones? After all, they keep the stress at bay. If you make time for them, then you can actually stick to your productive plan knowing that you’ll be goofing off soon enough. Angry Birds, anyone?
3. Pitch your mental notes.
Ever notice how mental notes get lost and then re-surface after your deadline has passed? Unless you’re trying to test the elasticity of your brain, make written notes and lists instead. Go for a short list of things that’s reasonable to get done.
Try these simple steps to hook your fingers in the nose of time. Reel it back in. Off you go.
Have you heard of The 99 Percent? It’s a site that’s full of great info about “making ideas happen.” It also has great tips on how to better manage your time. I’ve pulled together a few good ones for those of you who have trouble finishing projects, are indecisive, easily distracted, and who are victims of life’s hurdles (thrown squarely at your head).
Check them out and leave a comment to tell me what you think.
“We make hundreds, if not millions, of micro-decisions every day – from what to focus our energy on, to how to respond to an email, to what to eat for lunch. You could easily argue that becoming a better (and swifter) decision-maker would be the fastest route to improving your daily productivity.”
“Whether it’s due to a rabid perfectionism, an aversion to criticism, or just an inability to maintain enthusiasm for the long haul, we all have challenges and fears we must overcome to produce work that matters. But pretending they don’t exist won’t get us anywhere.”
“Over the past half-decade, researchers have been sounding the alarm on the dangers of multitasking. Gloria Mark, for example, a professor at the University of California at Irvine, found that the technology workers she studied would make it, on average, only 11 minutes into a project before being distracted. It then took 25 minutes to return to the task post-distraction.”
“You relish being seen as the go-to person when it comes to getting things done. You take pride in your ability to deal with a hefty workload and numerous deadlines without getting tripped up along the way. Yet, no matter how accomplished and efficient you are, there will be times when you get overwhelmed by negative or upsetting events.”
Make Your Ideas Happen
Last week, I mentioned that getting better at estimating how long it takes you to manage your tasks, will help you plan your day with greater success. This includes picking the right person to delegate certain activities to.
When you pass off a to do to someone else, be:
1. Matchy Matchy. This is definitely the time to be matchy matchy. Does the task fit with the person’s skillset? Will it be difficult for them to successfully handle it? Or, is it right up their alley? Sometimes picking the wrong person for the job is worse that doing it yourself.
2. Particular. Does the person know his or her own limitations? Do they know how long it will take them to complete your task? Do you get the sense that even though they have the right skillset, they might be overextended? Sometimes picking the right person who’s overwhelmed is worse than doing it yourself.
3. Ready. What if you find the right person with the right talent who (seemingly) is completely free to do your bidding…and they say no? Do you have a back up person in mind? A back up to your back up? Sometimes not thinking ahead will kill your best laid plans.
4. Flexible. What if you find the right – but uncertain – person. Would you consider offering up a job sharing partnership him/her and your back up person? Two people with the right skills who are not over committed working on your project together? Could they work well together? Sometimes you get great results when you find creative solutions, like a two-fer.
We all have trouble estimating time. Yes, that’s an admission of guilt. But, there’s no shame. It’s tough – especially when you get distracted by fun stuff. Like Angry Birds. Enough said.
There’s an easy — though not necessarily quick — way to really tell how long it takes you to get stuff done. When writing your to do list, include how long you think it will take you to complete each task. Then, check the time you start and finish each one (it might help to set a timer). Write down your actual time and repeat the process with the each thing on your list.
How off do you think you’ll be with your estimating? Does it matter? Yes. It matters how good you are at estimating because you’ll be more realistic about the things you:
1. Say yes to
2. Add to your to do list
Try tracking your time for a day or two or seven. Try to be more thoughtful and realistic about what you add to your list and how long each task will take. And, start thinking about who you can tap on the shoulder for help, particularly for those tasks that will take more time than you can spare.
Yesterday, I was interviewed for a podcast on getting back on track with New Year’s resolutions. One of the questions I was asked was why we get off track, especially when we start the year so motivated and optimistic.
There are a couple of reasons why the wheels come off…
First, we take on too much. We decide that we’re going to get it ALL done. Lose 50 pounds. Organize the whole house. In one month. Our desire (at the time) is bigger than reality and we pile too much on our plate. This makes it difficult to manage your time well, plan effectively, and achieve success.
So, don’t do that! Pick one goal instead of twenty. Small plates work better. You don’t get overstuffed and you can tackle your project in little bites. Much more effective.
Second, we don’t ask for help. We decide that we’re going to get it ALL done. Lose 100 pounds. Organize the whole house and car. In one month. By ourselves. Ambitious? Absolutely. Realistic? Nope.
So, don’t do that! For the love of God, find a breathing body who’s willing to pitch in. Just be sure that you return the favor when it’s needed. Delegation works at home and at the office, so make use of it.
Can you see how the combination of setting unrealistic goals + going it alone sets us up for failure?
*The intent of this post is to offer a chuckle, not to offend or harm.
Image Credit: CartoonStock.com
Everybody has a few quirks, right? Those little things that make you you. I’ve always known that I did things a little differently than some and that some of those things may seem a bit extreme…like when I’m washing dishes, I need to wash the glasses first.
I’ve got a few more (minor) oddities (read about them here), and I’ve learned that they can be very helpful or slow me down. Here’s what I mean…
Attention to Detail
The Good News: This a GREAT quality to have. You see things that most other people don’t see. You’ll notice – and care – when a stamp is placed crookedly on a letter, or when a word is not spelled correctly. You’ll be keenly aware when something is out of place. You’ll know when an e-mail just doesn’t sound right, that it needs a bit more polish. You see these things, fix them, and look like that supah stah that you are. =)
The Bad News: The flipside to this nose for the minutia is that sometimes it’s not the time to pick out every single, little detail that needs fixing. You may need to have a good grasp of the big picture first and THEN work on the finer points in your second draft. Who cares if your mum spelled “that word” wrong? You knew what she meant, right? Is it worth hurt feelings that may come up by pointing out her error? It’s your third read of that e-mail you’re about to send. Can’t you send it already?
And, if the stamp is on crooked, won’t it still get delivered? Is the time it takes to remove the stamp worth it?
An Eye for Aesthetics
The Good News: Another awesome trait is noticing when things just flow well and complement each other nicely. You notice when the pillows are not sitting properly on the sofa or that decorative blanket just doesn’t seem to go with everything else. If that painting is off center or the colors clash with the rest of the decor, you silently make a decision to fix it. You know the benefits of putting all your clothing together by type and color…and you’ll see when something is out of place.
The Bad News: If you jump through the worm hole and enter the alternate universe, you may figure out that it’s ok if everything isn’t matchy matchy, especially when these things belong to someone else or, say, a hotel. ;) The person writing this post knows a thing or two about trying to fix a hotel’s decor. The time it takes to sort the clothing by color may be worth it, if they belong to you and that system works well with how your brain functions. Is it more important to categorize them instead of hanging them up so you can make it to your appointment on time?
Using Systems That Work
The Good News: When you create and use a system that works for you, (almost) nothing can compare. It’s just fabulous, isn’t it? You can find what you want when you want it. And, you love how everything looks. The spices are grouped by type and then height, and you’ve come to expect to see them that way. It works with how you think. Aesthetics and function mashed together is a good thing. You know how to produce that with regularity.
The Bad News: There really isn’t a downside to using a system that works…except when you force it on people who don’t think like you…or who are visiting you, like your friends…or your mum…who has no idea that if all the labels on the spices aren’t facing out, the world will come to an end. Or that you keep the large utensils in the utensil holder on the counter and not in the drawer. Does it matter how the spices are put back as long they’re put back? This means that your mum is cooking and this is a good thing.
Is your desire to keep to your system running full steam ahead worth the possibility of making your guests feel uncomfortable?
Moral of the Story
Use your quirkiness to your advantage AND take note of whether they’re slowing you down at times. Consider deadlines and figure out the best times to turn on your super powers. Always, always be mindful of how your idiosyncracies make your loved ones feel. Weigh the balance of being you and making those around you feel welcomed and loved.
Web-based meeting schedulers can be huge time savers and prevent your inbox from bursting when you’re trying to set up a face-to-face or virtual powwow. Last week, you got a peek at Doodle. This week, it’s all about Tungle.me which was recently acquired by RIM…those are the nice folks who brought you BlackBerry.
Btw, if you’ve used Tungle, comment on how you like it. How do you think it compares to Doodle?
Tungle was the second online meeting scheduler I used (and I’m about to try a third…more on that later). You will need to register to get an account and you can choose the Basic or Premium version. You’ll also get your own personal URL (www.tungle.me/username) once you set up your profile.
…and you can brand your page by including your logo…
Scheduling a Meeting
This 4-step process is easy to understand and implement. Steps: (1) Set meeting details. (2) Add participants. (3) Suggest meeting times. (4) Preview and send invitations. [*See purple numbers on the left side of image.]
1. You can send an invitation from your own e-mail account with the Tungle link.
2. You can let Tungle do it for you.
Syncing With Your Calendar
1. You can sync with Outlook.
2. Or iCal.
3. Or Google.
4. And other calendars, too.
Using The Web-based or Mobile App
1. Use the online scheduler.
2. Or the iPhone app.
3. Or the Blackberry app. Surprised by this? =) *Android app is in the works.
Connecting With Your Social Networks
Another cool feature is that you connect to your Tungle using Facebook, TripIt, LinkedIn, Plancast, and Twitter.
Have questions about Tungle or want more info? Visit the FAQ page for details.
When you’re trying to set up a meeting with someone or a group of someones, it can be tricky. Everyone has different schedules and I think there are scheduling gods who get a secret chuckle when none of them match up. I think they get an even bigger laugh when there are a zillion e-mails that fly back and forth about what works for one person but not for that other person. Fun, yes?
Trying to coordinate schedules won’t necessarily be easy, but you can at least save a bit of time and stop the e-mail traffic jam by using an online scheduler. There are a few schedulers out there, two of which I’ve used and will be telling you about today and next week (so be sure to check back on Wednesday).
First up is Doodle (interesting name). If you use Doodle, leave a comment with your favorite features.
This was the first scheduler I used. I like that it’s easy to use and doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles to figure out.
It’s been a while since I’ve used Doodle, so some things may have changed. I’m sure that the non-pro account is still pretty simple to use. Even so, you do have choices.
1. You can create an account.
2. Or, not. You don’t need to register to use Doodle, though if you’re a frequent user, it might be helpful if you do.
Choosing Calendar Views
There’s no right or wrong view. Simply choose the one that you like the best or that’s easier for you to use.
1. You can send an invitation from your own e-mail account with the Doodle link.
2. You can let Doodle do it for you.
Syncing With Your Calendar
1. You can sync with Outlook.
2. Or iCal.
3. Or Google.
4. Or these other calendars.
Using The Web-based or Mobile App
1. Use the online scheduler.
2. Or the iPhone app.
3. Or the Android app.
Have questions about Doodle or want more info? Visit the FAQ page for details.
We at Camp OTR are getting ready for the Metropolitan Food, Libations, and Luxury Home Show (yes, there will be wine!) coming up this weekend at the Gaylord National Hotel. While we’re off getting organized, please enjoy (read: use) the following quick tips on how to get a better grip on your time.
1. Just Say NO!
…to the bright, shiny things that distract you. Even if they’re cute. And, especially if they’re fun. Put your dresser behind the door if you have to, or use a tech add-on (like RescueTime orLeechBlock) to keep a firm grip on your time. No e-mail, texting, or phone calls are allowed.
2. Just Say NO! Part Deux
…to the people who think you’re fabulous and ask you to sit on the board of that equally fab organization. Please graciously decline when you are asked to organize the summer outing for grades one through twenty. Smile, and say, “OMG, I wish I could, BUT…” or “Dude, I would do it BUT…” when you are asked to take on something you hate. This is especially crucial if you already have a jam-packed schedule.
3. Make a List
…of your top priorities – the stuff you have to get done that day – and then figure out how long each one will take. Get a calculator if you must and try to keep your top stuff to under 5 things. Oh, btw, do you remember how long it took you to finish last time? That might help you come up with realistic time frames for getting stuff done. So will using a timer.
4. Get Back Up
…in the form of another person, when possible. I did this last night and delegated a home show “to do” to the hubmeister (I did ask nicely). Not only did he say yes (thank goodness), but he got it done a lot more quickly than I would have. If I had done it myself, I would have pored over every minute detail until it was way beyond perfection. Instead, he knocked it out in 20 minutes. And, it was great! …and I was happy. Double yay! So, delegate a task that will suck your time (or one that you hate) to someone else who’s good at it (or loves it).
What do you do to keep that firm hold on your time?