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Category: Time Management

How to Make the Most of a Long Weekend

Filed under: Good Habits, Productivity, Time Management, Vacation, Work-Life Balance

Long weekends are the perfect opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. So, to spend them in front of the television would be almost criminal.

“If we don’t plan our weekends, they just kind of go by,” Phoenix-based productivity expert Nicole Bandes told HuffPost. “Be intentional with the time you’re going to have for the three days.”

The key here is balance. You certainly don’t have to plan each moment of the long weekend. But making time for a few activities can leave you recharged and happier once the holiday has passed.

Here are some expert and research-backed ideas on how to make the most of your long weekend while improving your wellbeing in the process:

1. Enjoy a staycation.

Sure, adventures like camping can be fun, but they also require a lot of work to plan. This may lead to feeling the opposite of relaxed, Bandes said. (Unless, of course, you are a hardcore camper and you wait all year to go. You do you!)

Instead of tackling a big trip, she recommends trying activities that are close to where you live. For example, visiting a local winery, going to the zoo or checking out a nearby waterfront are all low-effort ways to recharge your batteries.

2. Tackle a big project.

A three-day weekend is a great opportunity to tackle the “never-quite-get-to” projects, Bandes said. This could come in the form of painting a room, clearing out the garage, working on the car or finally getting around to organizing your closet using the Konmari method (which comes with its own added wellness perks).

3. Host a group gathering.

Invite family or friends over for a meal over the weekend. A meal-centric hangout with your crew can bring some perks: Not only are there psychological benefits to baking for other people, research shows that being around a best friend can help lower stress.

4. Take a digital detox.

Some research suggests that too much time on your devices is correlated with more negative thoughts, anxiety and depression.

Bandes recommends putting your phone away for a few hours or even half a day. It’ll pay off: unplugging every so often can increase focus, lower stress, increase sleep quality and help you think more creatively.

5. Volunteer for a worthy cause.

Carve out some time this weekend all in the name of generosity.

A 2013 study found that people who volunteer are more likely to improve their overall wellbeing and life satisfaction than people who aren’t altruistic. Giving and unselfishness is also associated with having a lower risk of early death, a stronger marriage and decreased depression.

6. Catch up on sleep.

Schedule in some rest. An estimated 1 in 3 American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Good sleep makes your memory sharper, improves mood and focus and literally clears your mind: Neurological science shows that proper sleep clears toxins which build up in the brain.

You can continue reading this article on Huffington Post.

How to Work More Efficiently (Even When You’re Feeling Unmotivated)

Filed under: Efficiency, Focus, Good Habits, Productivity, Strategy, Time Management

Research shows that kids experience a “summer slump.” When they’re out of school, they’re not actively focused on learning, and their brains check out. But they’re not the only ones susceptible to summer slumps. Adults seem to channel their inner child during the summer, making it hard for them to be productive at work.

A 2012 study by Captivate Network reveals that workplace productivity drops 20%, workers are 45% more distracted, and it takes 13% longer to complete projects in the summer. Also, 53% of workers who leave early on Friday report a decline in productivity. People often work longer Monday through Thursday to make up for leaving early on Friday, and 23% of them believe that schedule causes an increase in stress.

So how can you stay productive during the summer and throughout the year? We asked Dana Brownlee, the creator of the New Time Management Model. She’s the president of Professionalism Matters and a corporate trainer and speaker..

According to Brownlee, the New Time Management Model involves four questions:

  1. Should I do this?
  2. How should I do this?
  3. What’s the right level of effort?
  4. How can I increase my efficiency?

Should I Do This?

Brownlee recommends starting every week by assessing the most important activities for the week. Then, every day, do a reassessment. “Resist the temptation to just add a task to your to- do list because someone asked you to do it,” she says. “There must be a mental ‘vetting process’ to determine if any activity should be on your list.” Her own to-do-list only includes five items for each day.

“Another technique that I sometimes use in my classes is to ask each person to write down each of their tasks for the next day on a small slip of paper.” Then she tells them that one of those items can’t be completed – and they have to decide which one it will be. The participants have to throw away that sheet of paper and start over with a shortened list. They continue the process, until the list is down to five items. “These types of activities are just meant to reinforce the mental process that you’d go through weekly and daily to identify your truly important activities,” Brownlee says.

She also recommends using the 80/20 rule. “Figure out which 20% of your efforts will yield 80% of the results.” For example, you may need to determine which clients or client types are providing most of your revenue, and then adjust your business model or activities accordingly.

How Should I Do This?

This is a strategic step that encourages you to work smarter, not harder. Should you do it alone or with a group? Should you do it yourself or delegate or outsource it? Could the task be automated or streamlined in some way?

“As a small business owner, I often resisted outsourcing because I didn’t think I could afford to pay someone else to do things for me,” Brownlee says. “However, when I started using assistants, freelancers, and other specialists, I quickly realized that I couldn’t afford not to outsource (particularly those time-consuming tasks where I had little expertise — like website updating and newsletter formatting).”

She says that pausing to answer the “how” question can save a lot of time later. “For example, if you’re developing a client list, consider putting the information into a simple database so that it’s easily retrievable, sortable, and exportable later (and you’re inputting the information only once).” Next to each task, Brownlee recommends making a note of how you can work smart to complete the task.

What’s the Right Level of Effort?

When deciding how much energy to expend, consider assigning a percentage (from 0% to 100%). Another option is to set a time limit for each task. Brownlee uses this method with her assistant. “Instead of using vague terms like ‘don’t spend too much time on it,’ I’ll often say, ‘don’t exceed 90 minutes.’ Those limits can be helpful for us as well.”

It’s also helpful to add the times together to see if your daily plans are realistic. “If you add up your to-do-list tasks and it adds up to 4 hours of tasks (to be completed outside working hours) and you have a 1.5 hour round-trip commute, that list probably isn’t realistic.”

You can read the rest of the article on TalentCulture.

How To Make To-Do Lists Better, Faster, And More Fun

Filed under: Efficiency, Good Habits, How To, Productivity, Time Management

It’s the oldest, simplest, yet probably still the most effective method for making sure you get everything done: the humble to-do list. But is there a way to get more out of your daily check list? We asked the experts: How can we make our to-do lists better, how can we streamline them to get things done faster? Is is possible to make a to-do list fun?

Check out their answers below:

BETTER
Use a to-do list as an intake document and not as a working tool, says Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. Make a list of what you need to get done and assign it a time on your calendar. Then run your day from your calendar, not your to-do list. “You’re more likely to complete a task if you give it a when and where,” he says.

FASTER
Use a to-do list app to record your errands and shopping items, and get an automatic reminder when you’re near the appropriate location, says ­Carley Knobloch, Today show tech contributor and digital lifestyle expert.

Click here to read the rest on Fast Company >>

Sorry: Work Stress is Just as Bad for You as Secondhand Smoke

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Quick Tips, Stress, Time Management, Work-Life Balance, worry

It’s far from breaking news that stress is bad for you, but new research from the Harvard Business School and Stanford University has outed exactly how damaging it can be to your body and mind, and it’s not pretty: Workplace stress is just as harmful to your health as secondhand smoke.

In a meta-analysis of 228 studies, researchers looked at how 10 common workplace stressors—including long work hours, poor social support in the office and work-family conflict—affected four health outcomes: having a diagnosed condition, the perception of poor physical health, the perception of poor mental health, and, finally, death.

Those suffering from job insecurity are 50 percent more likely to rate their health as poor, which are the same odds reported by people exposed to secondhand smoke.

Additionally, similar to the effects of secondhand smoke, high job demands raise the odds of having a diagnosed illness by 35 percent, and long work hours increase odds of death by 20 percent. You read that right: 20 percent.

Click here to read the rest on Marie Claire >>

3 Ways to Keep Your Workload From Crushing You

Filed under: Productivity, Strategy, Success, Time Management

Feeling overwhelmed and overloaded at work? Here’s how to take back your time.

So much for 9 to 5. The average full-time salaried employee is now putting in nearly 10 hours a day, according to a recent Gallup poll (up slightly from a weekly average of 47 hours in 2007). Even grimmer: 25% say they’re regularly working a 60-hour week.

Feeling overwhelmed and overloaded? There are some simple tactics that will help you keep your workday in check.

Get your priorities straight. “Do the most important or most difficult task first,” says Mitzi Weinman of professional development firm TimeFinder. Starting with the quick, easy jobs is tempting, but delaying the thornier tasks just increases the odds that you’ll need to stay late to finish.

Click here to read the rest on Time >>

12 Things Successful People Do Over 3-Day Weekends

Filed under: Productivity, Success, Time Management, Work-Life Balance

We’re heading into a holiday weekend — and most successful people have planned out (or at least thought about) what they’ll do over the next three days. 

“Successful people recognize how important it is to take advantage of a long weekend to refuel their passions and recharge their batteries,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work.”

They work extra hard the days leading up to the three-day weekend in order to maximize their leisure time, adds Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.” They also compartmentalize any work-related tasks that slip into their three-day weekends, separating them from their coveted leisure time. “They know that if the two blend into each other, they’ll likely feel cheated afterward,” she says.

Click here to read the rest on  Business Insider >>

The Importance Of Scheduling Nothing

Filed under: Best Advice, Productivity, Rational Thought, Time Management

If you were to see my calendar, you’d probably notice a host of time slots greyed out but with no indication of what’s going on. There is no problem with my Outlook or printer. The grey sections reflect “buffers,” or time periods I’ve purposely kept clear of meetings.

In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). It’s a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.

At first, these buffers felt like indulgences. I could have been using the time to catch up on meetings I had pushed out or said “no” to. But over time I realized not only were these breaks important, they were absolutely necessary in order for me to do my job.

Click to read the rest on LinkedIn >>