The Productive Leader Blog
Improving Leadership Effectiveness One Task at a Time
productivity, leadership, time management, strategic planning, volunteer and leader development, nonprofit, small business, organizations and associations
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The Productive Leader Blog

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…)

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I cannot project my personal need for a lean email inbox on others. What I can tell you is when my inbox has too many emails in it I feel stressed that I’m missing something important and unclear what I should be doing next. My solution is to sort the emails in my inbox in order of PRIORITY. If you use Outlook, try assigning and sorting by categories. These are the categories I use. For sorting purposes, it’s important to put the letter in front:   (more…)

At this time of year people tend to bite off way more than they can chew. Resolutions don’t work….but identifying “why” can drive change. Ask yourself: “Why do I want to be more organized?”

  • Do I want time to do more important things?
  • Do I want to stop feeling burdened by my possessions?
  • Do I need better balance in my life?

When you are clear about what’s important, figuring out what to do about it is easier:

 

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Carve out an hour to transfer all of your standing meetings and other obligations onto next year’s calendar. Be sure to include:

  • conferences
  • out-of-town meetings
  • reoccurring appointments and/or meetings
  • hair, doctor, and groomer appointments
  • holidays
  • family events
  • school and camp schedules

The sooner you do this, the better the chance that you won’t double book or overbook yourself. And once it’s on your calendar you’ll have a much better chance at honoring your commitments.

 

At this time of year when time and space are at a premium, it’s helpful to clear space quickly and without much emotional investment. Be it at home or at the office, there is ALWAYS too much information around. Imagine the space you can make by doing a quick publications purge. 

Here are some thoughts to help you move them from prime space to the recycling bin:

  • Many of the magazines we have today are freebies that are sent to raise the subscription rates to attract more advertisers…you didn’t ask for them, are they really worth your time and space?   (more…)