Allow me to set the scene. You’re sitting at your desk, staring at an ever-growing number of items on your list of assignments, knowing you should be working diligently to check them off, but you just can’t seem to get in the right headspace to carry out your tasks. We’ve all been there. There are a slew of tips out there to help you get back on the right mental track to crush your workload, but I’ve put together seven of the best immediate solutions that will make for the most productive hour of work you’ve ever had.Continue reading →
The 17th century real estate entrepreneur, William Penn, said it best. “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
Every leader and entrepreneur understands the precious nature of time – and this is especially true for leaders who also spend time raising a family, caregiving for others, studying and/or fulfilling social obligations – over and above the demands of their career or business venture. Let’s face it, managing your time can often be a struggle, and even the most effective leaders can fall prey to distraction, disorganisation and procrastination.
One of the key principles to success is being productive and effective with your time; making it something we use best. The truth is, if you allow time to manage you – if you have a lot of unproductive minutes in your day – you will be unable to achieve a great deal.
I’ve been in business for over seventeen years and, for the past decade, have spent a large portion of my year travelling the world with family … while running my business. These years of experience have taught me many things, including how to manage my time more efficiently. This, in turn, has helped me become more productive and successful, and more able to follow my personal goals and dreams.
There are seven time-smart principles that I adhere to, and that I believe smart leaders and business owners should live by each day.
Introduce forced deadlines
According to Parkinson’s Law, work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Use this rule to your advantage and introduce forced deadlines into your day. This can be something such as picking up the kids, a phone call or meeting you need to attend, or attending a dinner. The point is to make it something that you simply must do, to give you the impetus to complete a task (or range of tasks) by this time.
(Editor’s note: The Make Your Mark Daily Planner is structured to include your top three priorities for the day, and rewards for completing each item!)
Utilise non-productive time
There are going to be many moments in your day when your arms and legs are busy, but your mind is free. If you’re smart, you can actually use this time to get a whole bunch of stuff done. It may that you listen to an audio book or podcast while driving the car or commute on the train; you may read important news articles or research while sitting at the kids’ soccer practice; or you use the time you walk the dog to call people you need to catch up with – perhaps your clients or family.
Focus on what you do best
It’s only natural – when you’re doing the things you’re skilled at and/or that you like, you’ll find you can complete tasks incredibly quickly and efficiently. When you’re doing things outside of your area of expertise, you’ll find that it will take you a longer time to do. Therefore, consider hiring a professional or delegating someone in your team to do the things that don’t come easily to you – chances are they can probably do it in one tenth of the time you can. This may cost you money, but if you think of what your time is worth as a team leader or business owner, you’ll be much better off.
Hire a virtual assistant
This is something I’m particularly passionate about, because I know the huge difference it has made to my business. Here’s one of my core principles: if you’re in your business, doing it alone, without any help, then you’re just doing it way too tough. These days, you can hire someone to work for you from anywhere in the world, and it can cost as little as $6 per hour. Build a system around all those niggly, repetitive tasks that take your precious time away from your core business, and pass it on to a virtual assistant to take care of.
Pay for expert advice
If you are a business owner, or aiming for a new role in your company, it is impossible to overstate the importance of a mentor or a coach; someone to help you along the way. Whatever it is that you want to achieve in your life, there’s someone out there who has probably done it or has done something similar. So, rather than wasting time on the process of trial and error, find someone that can help you along the way and be prepared to pay them for their time. In the end, their advice will save you precious time of your own.
Write your to-do list the night before
I have found this simple trick to be incredibly effective. Get into the habit of writing a to-do list before you go to bed. Build it into your routine: put your PJ’s on, brush your teeth, and write your to-do list for the next day. This will ensure that you start each day with definition and direction – no more time wasted in the morning.
Do an hour’s work before you check your email
The first thing most of us do when we turn on the computer in the morning is start scrolling through our inbox. However, by doing this, we instantly create another 20-30 things that we need to do or respond to and, immediately, we have lost track of what’s important. If you can, resist the urge to check your email first thing in the morning. Instead, look at your to-do list, choose the most important task and do at least an hour’s work on that. If nothing else, you will get a good chunk of that task completed before you’ve even started your day.
No matter how busy your business makes you, there is a way to insert some method into the madness, and actually get things done. By following the strategies above, you will find that you will develop a more strategic approach toward your to-do list, and you will be much more efficient and productive with your time.
Dale Beaumont is an Award-Winning Technology Entrepreneur, International Speaker and Author of 16 best-selling books. Dale started his first business at 19 and has been building companies ever since. One of those companies is now a multi-million dollar enterprise. In 2009, Dale launched Business Blueprint, an education company designed to help fellow entrepreneurs build the business of their dreams. Seven years later Dale has personally trained over 15,000 people and produced over 750 business training videos.
As busy women, it can sometimes seem that as we get older, we take on more commitments, which leads to more responsibilities, which then leads to less time in the day. Prioritising our necessities looks like the logical, and really, only, way to get through everything we need to do, from spending time with our spouses, ensuring we care properly for our children, allowing our careers to develop, etc. Fitting in the time for ourselves, as well as our friends and family tends to be one of the first things to drop straight to the bottom of our list, yet it is one very important aspect of your life that can help with the drawbacks of being busy – stress!
There are a number guilt-free, easy to manage ways in which we can incorporate our friends and family into a busy schedule. Here are 5 ways busy women can spend time with their friends and family:
1. Find common ground
Any form of common ground that you can find with your family or friends, which should be an easy task with your close circle, should be used to your advantage. Maybe you both have kids that can play whilst you catch up, or pets that can go for a walk or even add on an extra 15 minutes to your grocery shop and do it together. Being able to coordinate the similar activities you together is kind of a nice way of “hitting two birds with one stone”.
2. Take away any pressure or expectation
Hanging out with family or friends doesn’t need to be a special occasion or a fully fledged social ordeal. It can be just as fun and relaxing to sit at home with a glass of wine and watch an episode of trashy TV with the company you’re in, and just unwind. Don’t put any pressure on what fun and exciting activity you could be doing. Realise that people want to be in your life and spend time with you, because of you, so focus on being just that.
3. Conquer together
Set some new goals and see them through together. Not only will having someone there to ensure you’re committed, but you also create new memories and experiences to celebrate jointly. Whether it’s to get fit and healthy and you go to the gym to work out, or if it is to learn a new language or skill and you go to classes together, you can design your goals and objectives to contain more than just success, but also fun and togetherness.
4. A girl’s gotta eat.
Coordinating meals seems to be the luxurious way ladies of leisure spend their time together as “ladies who lunch”. It doesn’t need to have that stigma. Synchronising lunch schedules or even family dinner nights can be a low-key, easygoing way to spend time with your family or friends whilst doing the normal things. It’s being able to open your mind and see the opportunity where you can do things together with ease.
5. Schedule and prioritise
It’s easy to say “Let’s catch up soon” or “I will give you a call when I get a free minute”, but it too often gets lost in the weekly chaos. Prioritise your friends and family, even if it means putting a reminder in your calendar to call them. As a busy woman, having a strict calendar is essential, so you have no excuse not to schedule them in alongside your other commitments. The more you do this, the more normal it becomes, and the more you will enjoy it for what it is worth.
In saying all of that, it is equally important to make time for yourself. They are like you and your best friend; they go hand in hand! With good people in your life and enjoying time spent with your family and friends, your happiness and joys in life are magnified and any troubles or sadness is shared.
Samantha, a Relationship Specialist, devotes her heart and soul to E&S Relationship Specialists, which spans across the areas of personal, business and education, running programs in all facets of individual and group relations. Crafting the groundbreaking technique of Relationshipology, Samantha is transforming relationships all over Australia with the aim to have social and emotional education taught in school along side the academic education. Whilst business is a huge part of Samantha’s life, her most favorite role is being an amazing wife and an awesome mum to her beautiful son and baby on the way.
It’s the week before Christmas, and all through the office, people were wailing “I’M TOO STRESSED TO TALK….I’VE GOT TO SHOP IN MY LUNCHBREAK….I’VE STILL GOT THINGS TO DOOOOO”.
That’s how the poem goes, doesn’t it?
Like some (most) of us, you are probably beginning to panic about preparing gifts, lunches, family events, incomplete work tasks, the office secret Santa and annual leave. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with the gifts, lunches or family reunions (although I do maintain that any dessert covered in brandy custard constitutes a Christmas pudding). I can however share my top five office de-stressors that may help you to manage any pre-holiday melt-down that you’re thinking of having this week.
Explore what tasks need to be completed immediately, what can be completed in the short term, and what tasks can be classified as long term. Be fair in your assessment – don’t set yourself up for failure by prioritising ALL outstanding work tasks as immediate needs if they really aren’t. On the flip side, don’t leave ALL tasks to be completed on your return after holidays.
2. To-Do List
Now, while some of you may now be thinking “but I get more stressed out if I don’t complete things on my to-do list” hear me out. I’m a big fan of the to-do list, not necessarily for marking things off, but as a strategy to keep us on track. If you change your ideals on what a to-do list is, then you can create a tool that will help you set and achieve small goals. For your pre-holiday to-do list, you should be listing those tasks only that you prioritised as either immediately needed or needed in the short-term. Any long-term work tasks should not be included in this to-do list as it will quickly appear overwhelming and the usefulness of the tool will diminish.
By doing what you can ahead of time, you will be minimising stress in those last days or hours before you leave for holidays, as well as ensuring that any important details aren’t accidentally left out.
Similar to the to-do list, a timetable can become a tool of direction and guidance. Remember back to your schooling days when you used a timetable to help you ensure that you were spending enough time studying each subject? A timetable in the lead up to a holiday from the office can be useful in the same way. While I don’t recommend such strict timetabling as to account for every minute of every day, I do stress that it is important to structure what limited time you have so you can get the most out of it.
4. Create any handover documents ahead of time
If you are working in a job where you will need to handover any work tasks, clients or customer files while you are away, DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. This task is often prioritised incorrectly, and completed as a last event before you go on leave. By doing what you can ahead of time, you will be minimising stress in those last days or hours before you leave for holidays, as well as ensuring that any important details aren’t accidently left out. Obviously, not everything will be able to be added to a handover document a long way in advance; however, it is generally possible to add any last minute details to an existing document as they arise. By doing it in a controlled manner, you will likely find that the quality of details is better, and you will not experience the dreaded feeling of oppression that comes with having to do last minute handover documents.
And finally –
5. Have another rum ball!
Well – it IS the silly season …..
Lauren is a Rehabilitation Counsellor and Career Development Consultant, with close to 15 years of experience across the two fields. She is the founder of Headstrong Women, a specialist women’s career development service, and thrives on innovation and creativity to empower women to reach their potential. Find out more at www.headstrongwomen.com.au or on Facebook.