Calendar versus Tasks

Sample Calendar

Sample Calendar

We use calendars so we know what we need to show up for but where do you keep track of all the tasks….. by tasks I mean the tiny action items that require time to execute but don’t necessarily get scheduled into the calendar?

A task can be a call you need to make tomorrow or in one month’s time. Tasks can be the supplies you need to pick up for the office, a course you need to register for or the new toothbrush you need from the drug store.

The rule of thumb is to keep all similar tasks together and then complete them together. If you have 5 follow-up phone calls to make and each will take approximately 10 minutes then you will need to schedule one hour into your calendar to make those calls.

If you have three errands that need to be done – dry cleaners, grocers and drug store then you’ll want to look at your calendar to see when it’s convenient to do those errands. While your reviewing your calendar may notice that you’ll be driving by the dry

Sample Task List

Sample Task List

cleaners on Wednesday  – now you just need to schedule it in and then stop at the dry cleaners on Wednesday.

A calendar for all of our appointments and a list of ALL tasks that need to be done are essential procedures so that we can free up our minds and be confident that everything that needs to get done is accounted for.

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Improve your email efficiency

Have you ever felt like you just spent 8 hours on email?

What a painful way to feel about your day – unless you’re absolutely elated that you just cleared ten thousand emails from your inbox.  One of the biggest challenges with emails is that they sometimes contain links. You click on a link and voilà, you’re on the Internet and before you know it you’re scrolling through LinkedIn profiles and you’ve completely lost track of time.

There are ways to actually win at email but you’ll only be able to benchmark your success if you track how much time you truly spend on email in the first place. After you have tracked your time for 2-3 days then consider adopting any of the strategies below.

Here are 10 steps to help improve your overall efficiency with email:

  1. Define how much time you will allocate to email each day and schedule those blocks of time into your calendar.
  2. Only open your email during those blocks of time.
  3. Identify which emails are tasks that will take more than two minutes to execute and add them to your task list.
  4. Identify which emails are appointments-enter them into your calendar and then file or delete the email.
  5. Identify which emails are projects and schedule the next steps or assign the tasks
  6. Save emails that you need to in appropriate folders – remember your inbox is NOT a folder
  7. Delete emails that you no longer need, especially if there is a thread of the same email conversation
  8. Challenge yourself by setting a timer to keep you focused, even challenged, to stay on track (use a PDA, an egg timer or an online tool like www.online-stopwatch.com).
  9. If you continue to struggle with the time you spend in your inbox consider using http://emailga.me to help you, and even motivate you, to stay on track.
  10. If you get stuck figuring out what to do with your email go back to the rule of thumb:
    • if it’s an appointment put it in your calendar
    • if it’s a task put it on your To-Do list
    • if it’s information you need to keep put it in a folder and
    • if it’s someone’s contact information you need enter it into your database.

 

Still wrestling with time management?

I Googled “Time Management” and got over 1 billion hits in less than 26 seconds so, don’t worry you’re not alone!

The problem isn’t that you have a challenge but rather that you can’t talk about it at work (for many obvious reasons) or with your family or loved one’s because they probably seem used to your behavior or make jokes about it and I would guess that you probably feel like no one really understands you.

I bet you’re not even sure what the root cause is behind your own time challenges. If you could define the root cause and actually implement some strategic actions, that suit your lifestyle and your personality style, you’d be much happier, more productive and you’d even pat yourself on the back some days for a job well done.

But sadly, many people don’t realize that there are people to help with time challenges – at kAos Group we do this along with other professionals that can be found in the Google search. But, until you are ready to give someone a call here are some great time management links that may provide affirmations or strategies for you to adopt:

Time management doesn’t work

Take Control of your time

Time strategies for moms

Best practices in time management

10 Strategies for better time management (i love this one!!)

Free time management resource materials

Tips for increasing productivity

David Pogue is the technology columnist for the New York Times. He presented a Ted Talk and opened with a line that goes something like “there’s no course to teach you how to use your computer” – isn’t that the truth!!

Here are 5 great productivity tips from his talk or you can watch the video below.
1.Move down on web pages
Press the space bar then hit the shift + space to scroll up

2.Increase text size
CTRL + +++(larger) or —(smaller) to change text size while on a website page

3.Cell phones –
Press the space bar twice to put in periods

4.Google made easy
As a dictionary – type in ‘define’ and then the word

5.Presentations
Press ‘B” to black out the slide on the screen
Press ‘W’ to white out the slide on the screen

If you are interested in some of his 60+ books check them out here http://www.amazon.com/David-Pogue/e/B000AP8Q6U/?&tag=spacforrent-20

Click here to watch the Ted Talk presentation.

About Business – starting, excellerating or succession planning

I attended the Small Business Big Ideas Quarterly live to air event coordinated by David Cohen . This event is a “live to air” (thanks to Radio That Doesn’t Suck).

The focus what Where and How to Get Money for your Business Venture. It’s not that I’m looking for money but I was certainly interested in attending for many reasons: personal interest, to learn and then provide information for our clients, to hear the speakers – Chandra Lee , Catherine Swift and Sean Wise (yup the guy from Dragons Den) – what an intriguing panel it was, plus I was so fortunate to see familiar faces and meet a few really great new people.

Here are a few interesting facts that I took from the panel:

– Investors want to see large amounts of revenue before they invest 50 – 500k
– Angel investors are available on the internet (go figure!)
– Succession plans should be established and reviewed regularly.
– Catherine Swift made mention that some people who create succession plans neglect to tell their successor that they’ve chosen them. She suggests ensuring that you tell the person you’ve chosen.
– A business plan should be a living document (oh my – I got excited here because that is what we say about Operations Manuals)
– Chandra Lee said her business plan helps her see trends in business and predict slow periods.

Interestingly enough David Cohen was featured as in the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business “Challenge” article as a panel advisor. Here is the link to the article…

Surviving Day 1 through 5 After a Holiday

Whether it’s March break, summer vacation, Family Day or a long weekend the first day or week in the office can be hazardous to your health, literally!

Read through the tips 2-3 weeks before you leave on vacation so that you can create strategies for you upon your return. I bet you and your team would love to see your ‘holiday’ glow last more than one day.

Review the strategies below define which you will implement into your work flow procedures:
1. Arrive early each day for one week and spend dedicated time clearing your inbox – use a timer in 20/30 minute intervals
2. Email
a) Sort emails and file accordingly
b) Drag and drop emails into tasks and then file
c) Create a temporary folder and put it in your favorites list where you can put emails you need to refer back to next week (be sure to put that 30 minutes into your calendar)

3. Switch your work flow between mindless tasks and those that require your attention – it’s far less draining and can even add a little relief (dare I say ‘fun’ to the workload)
4. Review your calendar and define what is realistic and what can be moved
5. Review your task list to ensure you know what you need to be doing
6. Clear your desk – use a timer here too if you feel that it will help.
a) Execute a quick sort of papers, allocate to action, to file, to file, to delegate or to the recycle bin

Come and visit the kAos Group web site if you’d like more information on organizing and optimizing.