The 4 Simple Ways to Maximize Your Work Schedule

Managing your work schedule is about as much fun as cleaning out your freezer.  You know it’s the right thing to do, you just wish it were a tad more scintillating.

So here is my guide to making your work schedule more manageable, more productive.  And perhaps most importantly for your self esteem, allow you to go home feeling like you actually accomplished something all day.

Here are the 4 golden rules of managing your time at work:

1) Manage your interruptions – which means no social media sitting over your shoulder like an overgrown parrot..

#goodbye #Facebook #Twitter #instagram #keepin my job #productive

While you are becoming a killjoy, go ahead and switch off the pinging sound of the incoming emails too. Our brains become swiss cheese when we are constantly shifting our focus. I mean seriously, how can you get a full hours work done with interruptions every 17 seconds? You do the math.

If you have become a social media junkie and can’t go cold turkey, go ahead and turn your vices into virtues and allow yourself a 10 min ‘recess’ for the last 10 minutes of every hour.  After a while, challenge yourself to a break every 2 hours, until you are only checking social media at lunch.

2) Give yourself a daily schedule–
You know the rhythm of your day and week, so go ahead and write it down, so you don’t forget the small stuff when the big jobs come flying your way. You may tell me that it’s so simple you ‘know it in your head’ – and that’s my point exactly – I don’t want it in your head – I want it on paper so  creative and fun ideas can pop into your head.

Here’s a sample – keep it as simple as you can and print it out and put it near your desk – we don’t want it in some folder gathering dust or on some online passworded vault never to see the light of day. Notice the schedule isn’t minute by minute, this allows for more of an organic workflow.

This daily schedule is for a lady who works in a start up with 10 employees and is the responsible for answering phones, email, bookkeeping, payroll, PR and office managing (and most likely quite a few other secretarial jobs that don’t fit neatly into her neat job description).

The table below is a glimpse into her life on Tuesdays.

Tuesday

9-11am
Execute the tasks from yesterdays task list.
Send out invoices from previous week.
Check incoming mail and email
Week 1 Inventory & order office supplies

Week 2 Order stamps

Week 3 Inventory & order kitchen supplies

11 – 1pm
Research new branding ideas from sources A,B,C
Payroll
Have standing 5 minute meeting with 2 staff members to ask what the company can do to make things work easier for them.
Week 1 Confirm details for bimonthly car cleaning service for employees

1-2
Lunch & power walk
2 – 4pm
Bookkeeping
4-5pm
Prepare task list for tomorrow and clear desk area

3) Create a check list

It is quite redeeming to have a schedule in place. Good job. The next gift you can give to yourself is a check list of items that you personally have a tendency to forget. These lists take a little while to create and are best created by writing down the items that we really do forget, the idea being that once they slip through the crack once, you have a default mechanism in place to ensure it doesn’t become a habit.

Here is a sample list :

Did I leave any emails in draft form?
Have I returned all phone calls?
Do I need to order anything today for upcoming meetings?
Is there anyone who called in sick that I haven’t personally contacted?
Is there a deadline I might want to check?

Don’t laugh. What may look petty to you, could actually be a sanity (and job!) saver for someone else.

4) Never leave work without making your focus list for the next day.

Your focus list is the cream of the crop, the icing on the cake, the 20% ( of the 80/20 rule) that ensures your productivity. By writing down the 8-10 items you must get done tomorrow, you will leverage your productivity big time. This employee gives herself an hour to complete them and allots approximately 5 minutes per task.

Do what works for you. By focusing on the big stuff early on in the day while you are somewhat refreshed and medium-ly caffeinated, your productivity will start hitting new highs. Combine that fabulousness with a daily schedule and systemizing the more mundane parts of your job and you are well on your way to productivity gold club membership.

- See more at: http://frazzledtofocusedblog.com/2014/03/the-4-simple-ways-to-maximize-your-work-schedule/#sthash.7XN6PFPk.dpuf

Harvard Business Review – Smarter Decision Making Edition

 

I recently bought a copy of Harvard Business Review (yes, I was at an airport with a long flight looming).  It had a front page headline of ‘how to make smarter decisions.’
That’s a topic that particularly intrigues me, so I bought it, hoping to get lots of decision making brilliance from those clever people over at Harvard.

Here are the nuggets I picked up from them.  Sharing them helps me validate the $16.95 they charged, bless them.

Decision Making Brilliance

Deciding How to Decide

* We don’t always know what we don’t know.
* Deciding when to decide is often as important as deciding how to decide.
* Consciously decide how and when to make a decision.

Beyond the echo chamber
In order to keep your decisions as accurate as possible, don’t just stay within your own circle (aka echo chamber) or your decisions will be tainted by “potentially negative group think.” Make sure your information and source of ideas are diverse and independent.

Know what kind of decision you are making
The term “decision” is too broad – everything from buying new cereal to choosing a new car is coined under the term “decision.” Insights from one genre of decision making doesn’t always translate over to other types of decision making.

Regardless of how much you test decisions, uncertainty is a fact of life. So… in addition to courage to make a big decision, you also need the fortitude to deal with unpleasant surprises.

Random pieces of wisdom
On creativity: “If you want a boost of creativity, focus on something green.” I assume they don’t mean Kermit the Frog.

From HBR blog Doug Sundheim
On closing the chasm between Strategy & Execution:
“The best managers don’t believe there is a handoff between strategy and execution.”

Physiolytics: new wearable technology that captures data

We speak on average 16,000 words a day.

Perceptual acuity

The ability to anticipate the future (sadly it is in short supply). How can you improve your perceptual acuity? Get out and talk to people searching out information. It’s not about powerpoints – it is searching out big ideas. Listen to your insiders – listening requires listening to their viewpoints, especially opposing ones. You need the mental capacity and tenacity to knit inferences into something meaningful.

The two biggest misconceptions CEO’s have about decision making are:
1) that they know it all;
2) that they can decide alone.

- See more at: http://frazzledtofocusedblog.com/2013/10/harvard-business-review-smarter-decision-making-edition/#sthash.dfXK5jg7.dpuf

 

The Three Systems I Recommend to All Parents (Including Myself)

I was recently asked my 3 favorite time and sanity saving systems are for parents.
Standing on one foot, here are the 3 I recommend most.  As the ad says, 15 minutes can save you 15% …of stress!
1) Bedtime routines for children under 12 –  Most children today don’t get enough sleep.  Get a routine in place so that everyone knows their bedtime.  By giving children earlier bedtimes, you have a better chance of putting them to sleep with a story and a hug rather than 2 hours later when you are exhausted and, dare I say, cranky?
2) Meal Planning – Get your dinner made in the morning so that you AND the children can walk in to a warm dinner.  Most ovens have a ‘preset’ button that their owners are blissfully unaware of. Learning to preset your oven will change your life.  *Don’t worry about poisoning your family – freeze water and/or lemon juice ice cubes to put over and under  the chicken to keep it chilled )
3) Exercise time for Mom –  When Mom is happy, everyone is happy, and there is nothing like a workout to make Mom feel great!
I actually have to go for a workout  now – here are some other systems to try out - 45 second lentil soup that everyone will eat, smart freezer trickssystems for special needs kids  and a system for helping children write thank you notes.

- See more at: http://frazzledtofocusedblog.com/#sthash.N2sk7YaK.dpuf

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The 5 Tricks To How I Manage My Time (And My Sanity)

I often get asked how I manage my own time and workload.  Good question!
I am still working on the most effective magic formula.  I take my job as a Mom and as a time management consultant seriously, and I’m always
perfecting the formula to work smarter not harder, and resisting the urge to spread myself too thin.
Here is what I have come up with so far:
1. The Pitfalls of only Hands On Parenting  (But Heart & Mind Off ??)
As a Mom of 4 children at home who prides herself on being very hands on, I came to the
realization that it wasn’t enough to be ‘hands on’, I had to be ‘heart and mind’ on also. Yes, in the
run up to launching my book, I had been guilty of being physically present but emotionally
checked out, whether I was checking the iphone screen during story time, or simply too
exhausted by night time to parent effectively.  That wasn’t fairplay. If I was writing a book helping
Moms be less frazzled I surely had the ability to crack this code on managing my time to actively
show up for my children (and their pint size tantrums) both in body and soul.
2.Designating Time
My solution was to really designate my time. As any self employed Mom can attest when you
finally get those two precious hours it can get dizzying deciding whether to pay bills, have some
well deserved ‘me time’ , make dinner or work on the report that is due next Tuesday ?
 I was getting dizzy from the tyranny of choice. So when I would give myself ‘me time’ I would
be thinking about the dinner I was feeling guilty about not marinating or mentally writing notes for
the report due next Tuesday. My mind was feeling like a plate of spaghetti -all over the place and
an unclear beginning, middle or end.
So I carved out my days and weeks into specific time slots.
Making dinner ? Yup - early morning.
Monday is my day for clients and also for Mommy CEO in my down time. All kiddie related items
are taken care of on Monday.
Tuesday is my majorly compressed full week of creative work, no clients, just blogging, writing,
creating, connecting. I rarely text or answer the phone on Tuesday.
Wednesday is client day again, with the added feature of trying to connect with friends for coffee
in between.
Time for me to chillax ? Thursday afternoon.
Time for my appointments ? That would be Fridays.
The price I would have to pay for that would be working super hard Monday, really really
focused Tuesdays and work hard on Wednesday mornings , however, I would end promptly at
4pm and be fully present for the children.  No more checking emails in between story time and
toothbrushing. Fully present.
3.Borrow all the  brain space you can .. and more some.
I realized the value of a calm brain and a mind that is able to think ( and not just store random
pieces of information). I use google drive, the software Basecamp and the notes feature on my
iphone to write down random thoughts so they can be retrieved at the corresponding times.
4. 4HWW
Tim Ferriss’s book ‘ The Four Hour WorkWeek’ is a revolutionary read for crunching time, this
really inspired my Tuesdays. I mentioned that I work super hard on Tuesdays. I crunch a full
equivalent of work week into Tuesdays. I have a list of all the items I want to do to further my
business and Tuesday is the day where it all happens. I hide myself away in a Starbucks in an
area where I know no-one and drink more caffeine than is legally recommended but between my
anonymous workplace, my lists, my caffeine induced focus and my creativity I get tons done.
Take away my Tuesday and I may as well close my business.
5. Internet Free Days
In order to stop my mind from churning and bubbling  24/7 and the resulting burn out  I have 3
designated days where I don’t check my email. That really helped me step outside of all the
madness. I have a signature line explaining that I don’t always respond quickly and I give out my
cell for people to text. No-one has texted me, ever.
All in all, there is no magic formula, however my designating my time I was able to focus on one
thing at a time and not feel guilty for what I wasn’t doing. It sounds like a pretty simple switch, it
was. and the results I have garnered are really really saving my sanity and making me more
productive and nicer. Enough said.
See more at http://wp.me/p2X7Tb-3P

Keeping The Calm ‘Back to School’ Mindset … For Us Moms That Is ..

Magic wand

Magic wand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How is everyone handling their children and all things elementary?  If only the school challenges ended once we graduated School Supplies 101.

Here are some issues I am hearing about:
Bedtimes, breakfasts, homework, lunches, anxiety…

Alas, without my magic wand, we will need some time and experience to properly dissect and discuss topics in more detail.

For right now, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this complimentary video I produced in the hopes of reducing stress in parents dealing with those blessed back to school challenges.

- See more at: http://frazzledtofocusedblog.com/#sthash.N2sk7YaK.dpuf

 

 

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My Top 3 Tips For Transitioning Back To School

 

Hate to break it to you all, but summer really is over. Well, at least over here in America it is. Starbucks has ended their afternoon specials, and most schools will be back in full swing by next week.

Here are the top 3 tips that I will be reminding myself:

1) Bedtimes

Get the children to bed earlier starting NOW. Their little bodies need time to get used to reality. Try getting them to bed half an hour earlier every few days. If they insist they don’t need to go to sleep earlier, bribe them.  Have extra stories for those ready in time, or worst case scenario, go around and change all the clocks to show one hour later than it really is. I wont tell.

2) The morning starts the night before.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, “The morning starts the night before.” Include packing up the backpacks, setting out the clothes, and even setting up breakfast in your children’s evening routine.

3) Evening routine

The children need to know their predictable evening schedule, including winding down time and bedtimes. A predictable bedtime routine is a sign of a functional home, and even if yours isn’t all that functional, at least get the children to tap into a small sliver of functionality. It is so worth it when they go to sleep on time and calm.

Good luck, parents! It’s not easy transitioning from carefree summer days, to homework, tests and projects. I have faith in you.

- See more at: http://frazzledtofocusedblog.com/#sthash.N2sk7YaK.dpuf

5 Tips to Revealing a More Authentic You

For many of us, the lighter summer schedule gives us a chance to mull things over in our minds. How we can leave the office a little earlier in the fall, how we want to make the commitment to driving to soccer practice, and on a subliminal level, how we can bring a more authentic representation of ourselves back to our post summer world.

Productivity isn’t just about a global initiative to just be doing more, it’s about doing more of the things that bring us closer to our goals.  Maximizing our potential is something that certainly appeals to me.

Here are some quotes and topics that I have found really useful to contemplate and then create a unique way to make it really happen in real time.

1. ”If we realized what we were truly capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” Rabbi Dr Abraham Twerski
We each have talents we know we could nurture a little more to give us an inner feeling of satisfaction. For some people, it could take the radical form of, lets say, annual trips to orphanages in Third World countries. For others, it can be something far simpler such as taking the piano lessons you always promised yourself you would, or planting that rose garden you have been wanting for years.

2. Be careful when you give your word. The listener is expecting you to keep it.
This one really hit home with me, especially as a Mom.  Often my instinct was to say “sure,” without fully hearing what the request was. It kept them quiet, kept the peace, and I hoped they would forget my response half the time. Unfortunately, my children and those in our work world do expect us to listen and consider the outcomes before we give our word. I now have a 75% decrease in the amount of times I give my word and a much higher rate of return when I do give my word.

3. ”If you want to have more credibility accept total responsibility for your actions.”
There is such a huge temptation to blame circumstances rather than take responsibility. While I don’t want to start apologizing for the rain, I most certainly can take responsibility for being late for a meeting that I couldn’t find a parking spot for, when I chose not the leave enough time for finding parking.

 

4. “Never underestimate the value of your positive effect on others.”
If you think something nice about someone else, go ahead and share it with them! I consider it verbal charity.  Rather than handing a friend a dollar bill, hand them a compliment that will brighten their day,  quite possibly get stored in their compliment treasury, and be nurtured like gold.

5. “It takes more energy to panic than it does to plan.”
Leave the “freaking out” to the teens. Feeling fearful? Overwhelmed? Grab a power nap or an espresso and Write Out A Plan. Executing that plan is far more productive that fueling up your mind with all that panic.

As they say, “Change is easy.  You go first.”  Don’t expect this to all come easily.  If you’re not sure if you can do it, there’s only one way to find out.

- See more at: http://frazzledtofocusedblog.com/#sthash.N2sk7YaK.dpuf

 

Blog post in honour of 123456 Twitter followers

Blog post in honor of 123456 twitter followers

Recently there was major excitement in my brain that scaringly didn’t involve anything involving caffeine. It had to do with my obsession with stripes, prime colors and numbers neatly in order.

YES, I was approaching the moment of 123456 Twitter followers.


So rather than focus on other fleeting moments that will never happen again in my lifetime  ( FYI Thanksgiving will fall out on Chanuka for the only time in our lifetimes) I wanted to chat about why many of us like neat patterns and cool numbers.


So, why do we like our ducks in a row ?

I think it must have something to do with an innate love of predictability in our lives. Even if I can’t control the world around me, there is something very soothing about having the numbers around me align. Simple as that.


And here’s the irony, I got busy with life and missed the 123456 moment. It jumped to 123457 …. so perhaps there is beauty in that too. The real stability comes from within, the ‘ducks in a row’ syndrome might just be a reminder of that.


My ‘aha’ moment … the simple way to delay emails.

‘Email is a mail delivering service, not a chat service ‘ @tferriss

Reading that quote really sent my inner productivity geek in a spin. I was guilty of sending emails, reading the immediate responses and getting sidetracked along the way.I have been working hard to batch email sending and email responding to 15 minutes twice a day, this chatting thing was a spanner in my productivity works. I had to hatch a plan to purposely delay some of those emails. So where better to ask life’s pressing questions to, than the Twitter universe ??

 

Thanks to Tracy and the clever chap over at bloggertricks.com I stumbled across Boomerang – the software that set me free. There is a freemium version which gives you 10 delayable emails a month or a paid version for $5 a month, seems fair enough.


It was uber easy to install and started working right away. I love it and will bless it daily when I hatch, match and dispatch my emails, allowing me to choose when the recipient receives the email ( I am thinking that 8.29am might be my first port of call). Give it a whirl and let me know what other strategically placed email tricks you picked up along the way.


Here is the youtube video explaining how it works

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KmsqYjB9j4


Here is the link to join which gives me ( and you) a free month

http://www.boomeranggmail.com/referral_download.html?ref=peytt


Here is Boomerang’s website without the referral piece ( don’t worry I am not techie enough to find out who did and who didn’t go the referral route)

http://www.boomeranggmail.com/

Just In Time for your Lunch Break :Poems by my niece Shira

My sister in law sent me these short poems my 11 yr old niece  Shira wrote. They whisper such compassion, sensitivity and hope that I wanted to share them.

 

Shoes just stand there in the window’s drab display

All I think of is that it was a dull day

The streets just do not glimmer

And the sun does not shimmer

If only this sad day could turn out okay

Flowers are beautifully growing

Most farmers are hastily mowing

Spring is today

Lets go and play

Oh how wonderful the day is going

 

When I grow up I probably want to be a great billionaire

Actually when I grow up I’d want to be a millionaire

I think I have made up my mind

I think I’ll be wealthy and kind

Or maybe I will go with being a nice,kind trillionaire

 

 

The dog next door with the big fluffy hat

Would never chase the blue and white cat

 

The smelly cheese was all green and moldy

But still I felt the need to look like my happy mouse Goldy

 

 

We all go through very hard times once in a while

But sometimes we just need to let out a cheerful smile