Vacations + Boundaries + Time off = > Productivity

August Calendar

It’s August and it’s been one heck of a year, not just for me but for so many friends, colleagues, and clients. Yet Tuesday morning beckons and I know that means it is time to write my blog post for the week.  Most of the time the words just pour onto the page.  Unlike some bloggers I don’t pre-write, my posts are inspired by my clients, my week, and my life.

Except today I’m stuck.  Maybe it’s how sad I am about the loss of Robin Williams.  Maybe it is because both my children are leaving for college on Saturday (sad, excited and super busy all at the same time), maybe it is because I need a vacation. I think that’s it. I have been reading all these great articles about how productivity improves with down time. This is what I’ve picked up:

  • Take true vacations: “If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations – true vacations without work – and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s biggest problems. (New York Times article on creative thought: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/opinion/sunday/hit-the-reset-button-in-your-brain.html?smid=fb-share)
  • Create and respect boundaries. “You cannot achieve your balance if you don’t respect the boundaries you have put in place. It will be hard in the beginning but you need to stick with it so you develop a routine and drive a culture and lifestyle of predictability. You will find that there is also something else you can do. There is always another email to reply to or a problem to work, but you need to PERSONALLY respect your boundaries. If you don’t then you can’t expect others to respect them.” (Entrepreneur Magazine article on Work-Life Balance: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235427)
  • Time off improves productivity: “The Greeks are some of the most hardworking in the OECD, putting in over 2,000 hours a year on average. Germans, on the other hand, are comparative slackers, working about 1,400 hours each year. But German productivity is about 70% higher.”  (Economist Magazine article: http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/09/working-hours)

So, my productivity tip for the week is to take some down time.  Happy August, vacation, and napping.  Talk to you next week – then it’s VACATION TIME!

The Most Powerful Productivity Tool Ever

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“NO” is the most powerful productivity tool ever!  As the new year is upon us, with all our new goals and aspirations, it is easy to get caught up in the vortex of hoarding opportunities.  With the myriad of information and prospective “things” we can do with our time, money, and energy staying focused is … hard.

To effectively evaluate if you should say “YES,” getting clear about what is important is critical.  (Check out my 10 Minute Goal Setting Blog Post if you need some direction with this.) Remember, that when you say “YES” to one thing you are saying “NO” to something else.  Your resources are not endless!  Filter questions include:

  • If I say YES to this opportunity, what will I be saying NO to?
  • Will saying YES help me achieve something valuable, useful, or important?
  • Will saying NO be a relief?

Once you are clear with what’s important saying “NO” becomes much easier.

From Digital Clutterer to Digitally Productive

Digital Clutter
Digital Clutter

Yes – actually we now have names for people who keep too much electronic information.  But, there is good news!  Unlike physical clutter where our space fills up and overflows, our computers can handle massive amounts of data.  Bad news is, just like physical clutter, it can negatively affect our quality of life.  Is this you?

  • You’ve missed an important opportunity because the email invitation was hidden among hundreds of unimportant emails
  • You’ve spent hours looking for a document you know you had but couldn’t find
  • Your computer is mired in so much muck that it no longer is the wonderful resource it once was.

Continue reading »

Managing Time Better

Do you ever ask yourself how you can better manage your time?

If managing people is making choices about how to maximize their potential, than you can easily say that managing time is making choices about how to maximize its potential as well.

One of the most useful tools I have found to most effectively manage time is Pareto’s Principle.  Pareto was an Italian Economist who in 1906 observed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population.  From this comes The Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 rule.  Simply put, 20% inputs yield 80% output

How does this help you manage your time?

Let’s look at 3 relevant examples:   Continue reading »

Why Be Organized?

Why Be Organized?

  • Do you think things should be neater?
  • Are you worried about what other people think of you?
  • Are you trying to please a spouse or a boss?

These reasons are sound. But will they motivate you? Are they important enough to give up your valuable time and energy to get the work done? Probably not.

What is your motivation?

The most important reason to get organized is so you can have something you want that you don’t currently have.   Continue reading »

10 Minute Goal Setting

Do you have goals?

Of course you do, but perhaps the question should be, “What are your goals doing for you?” If they are simply floating around in your head, they are probably just frustrating you, but if you take the time to do something with your goals, they can enrich your life.

Many people say they don’t use goals because it seems so complicated. Not so. Using goals to shape your life more the way you want it is really quite easy. Take ten minutes and you are on your way to accomplishing the things in your life that are most important to you.

Before you begin, it is important to review a few key terms relating to Goal Setting. A goal is an action statement that reflects a desired outcome. Life areas are areas you consider important in the balance of your life, i.e.: business, self, family, and service. The term measurable means quantifiable through time, quantity, result, or concept.

Action Plan for 10 Minute Goal Setting:    Continue reading »

What is Good Enough

The goal of getting organized is not to be perfect; it’s to make life easier. Do you want to get your mail under control? File your paperwork? Find your summer shoes? Once I give clients permission to not be perfect their progress takes off. Ask yourself – “what is good enough?” Good enough doesn’t have to mean Pinterest perfect visuals or complex systems.

It’s always best to begin with the end in mind. If your goal is to be able to find things when you need them than that’s the type of system you should create – Consider:    Continue reading »

Free Isn’t Really Free

I went to a great meeting yesterday with a lot of free give-aways. I saw people taking and taking and taking. I kept thinking “Where are they going to put it all?” I thought about what it means to bring all this stuff into our homes and offices. Free isn’t really free. Bringing something into your space costs you in many different ways:

  • Freebies take your time – now you are going to have to make time to put it away. How much time will it take you to make a space for it so it can be useful? How much time will it take to figure out how to use it and when to use it?    Continue reading »

Own the Last Minute Pattern

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.    Continue reading »

Why Be Organized?

  • Do you think things should be neater?
  • Are you worried about what other people think of you?
  • Are you trying to please a spouse or a boss?

These reasons are sound. But will they motivate you? Are they important enough to give up your valuable time and energy to get organized? Probably not.

A better approach may be to find your own motivation. What is it you want that you don’t have?