Saturday, August 30, 2014
Saturday, August 09, 2014
Online Calendars Tips And Tricks
Multiple calendars make it easy to overlook events and deadlines. A single access point helps you to see everything you have ahead. Seeing all of your responsibilities, events, projects, due dates, and scheduled activities in one place enables you to avoid the dangerous practice of overbooking yourself. If you have multiple calendars for family, personal life, team projects, and your work schedule, do what it takes to get them all funneled into one, single-access place so you can see the big picture.
Use Labels, Colors, or Access Points to Differentiate
When your calendar involves multiple projects, people, and priorities, things can get fuzzy and crowded pretty quickly. Your single access point lets you see the big picture, but your coding system - whether by labels, colors, or varying access points to different calendars - will let you zoom in on the details.
Block Your Time on Your Calendar
A task, or to-do item, is not a calendar event. It is not an activity tied to a specific time; it is simply something you need to do. Filling your calendar up with tasks will result in a lot of task shuffling and rearranging at the end of the day. Simplify. Instead of assigning a time/date to tasks that simply need to be done - soon - put them all in a task list. Sort your task lists by project, then block time on your calendar for the project that needs your attention. Treat that “time block” as an appointment. Find the appropriate task list, turn off the distractions, and focus on completing those tasks. When the time is up, update your task list and block additional time on your calendar as needed.
Use Your Calendar to Care for Yourself
No one can move timelessly from one event or task to another. Schedule in a buffer, a transition time, between appointments, events, and time blocks. This is not a luxury, but a part of reality. Transitions take time; allowing for that time makes a lot more sense than pretending it’s not there. Alternate the type of work you do in order to give yourself a mental break. Our brains function best with a variety of work. Make it a habit, as much as possible, to alternate: visual work, then text-based work, or interactive work, then solitary work. Schedule in times for physical activity, rest, and downtime. Schedule time to “be at home” with nothing on the calendar. Schedule your bedtime. Schedule your off time. Use your calendar to mark off the things you need and give them to yourself.
Do Three Daily Calendar Checks
The point of a calendar is to keep you from the mental burden and confusion of having to remember all your time-based activities. But when you don’t regularly check your calendar, it won’t help you. Your brain will be trying to remember everything. And you will be exhausted. A morning check provides an overview: what’s on the agenda for the day, what might need to change, what’s coming up in the next few days. A midday check lets you see if you are still on track: any changes in the schedule, details to add or update, reminders of near-future events or deadlines that need your attention. An evening check gives you closure and tomorrow’s starting point: tasks completed, updated notes and reminders, events that have been rearranged, and priorities for the next day. There is no point in having a calendar if you do not use it habitually and teach your brain to depend on it. Imagine how it might feel not to have constant reminders and details circling your brain. Imagine a peaceful, quiet space in your mind. That would be good, wouldn’t it?
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Lots more comparison charts are coming
Sunday, July 13, 2014
How To Make Workplace More Productive
That said, here are five things to do to boost workplace productivity:
1. Create a manageable to-do list
To-do lists growing into paralysis-inducing behemoths aren’t unheard of. People feeling stressed, overwhelmed and useless as a result aren’t new news, either. According to Robert C. Pozen, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and Harvard Business School senior lecturer, our lists should be “derived from larger goals and include tasks that move us toward those big-picture endeavors” instead of a catch-all for every task thrown our way. In short, create manageable lists by knowing which tasks to prioritize. Author and online marketing expert Michael Hyatt sets himself up the night before and creates a to-do list with top three must-dos, the operative word being “must.”
2. Stand during meetings
If you’re concerned about the long-term ill effects of sitting for too long in one place (now pegged as the new smoking), standing and treadmill desks are workplace implements gaining in popularity. Non-sedentary workplace setups are not just hip. Aside from their health benefits, studies – click here and here – have shown they improve workplace productivity, too. There’s another added benefit to standing – standing during meetings, that is. Anecdotal evidence shows standing meetings can cut meeting times by 25%, in that standing eliminated distractions such as notifications from the intranet system or the urge to type up an email whenever meetings go the boring course. A new research also found that standing meetings improve creativity and teamwork, as “the teams who stood had greater physiological arousal and were less territorial about ideas than those in the seated arrangement.”
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Just because you sent out a memo first thing in the morning doesn’t mean everybody’s on the same page. If anything, making assumptions instead of conducting follow-ups can cost your business a lot of money. According to a 2008 IDC white paper commissioned by Cognisco,US and UK companies lose $37 billion (£18.7 billion) a year because employees do not completely understand their jobs.
Whether verbal or written, being articulate is fundamental to effective communication. We all know that communication is a two-way highway. Doling out instructions is just half the battle. Ensuring that those instructions are clearly understood makes up the second half. And unless your team is in it for the brain exercises, leave no room for guesswork in your communication strategy.
4. Don’t micromanage
You want the project to succeed, and no one can fault you for that. But obsessing over the font type and size used in the presentation slides? Or having people report on the status of their tasks every hour of the day? Sure, the devil is in the details, but sweating all the small stuff can also drive sane people crazy. There’s a saying that says, “People quit their bosses, not their jobs.”
Besides, a high level of achievement cannot be expected of employees who see themselves as mere puppets in the overall scheme of things, and people who believe they are being explicitly monitored tend to perform at a lower level. Bottom line, talents must be recognized for what they are – talents with their own work style and techniques. Give them freedom and the ability to think for themselves, and what you reap is another vital productivity factor called accountability.
5. Encourage, reward and recognize
Some people get the kick out of sarcasm or disparaging remarks, whether from a client or a manager, but that can’t be said of the general population. One reason people stay motivated to perform their level best is because they feel valued by their employers and that their contributions help propel the company forward. While monetary perks are definitely welcome, rewards and recognition can take many forms – vacations and holidays, paid conferences, or an occasional team luncheon at a nearby restaurant. A pat on the back or a simple congratulatory message can sometimes do the trick, too. A genuine gesture of appreciation, no matter how small, can go a long way. Being recognized for hard work is an effective morale – hence, productivity – booster.
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