Tag Archives: personal productivity

Top 5 Posts of 2013

Office party

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, commented and shared my posts this past year.  Here are the top 5 posts from the year:

  1. 5 People Every Team Needs
  2. Defining Personal Productivity
  3. 10 Tips for Project Success
  4. A Leadership Parable
  5. Making Hard Choices

I’m looking forward to 2014 and sharing more thoughts with you as well as learning from your comments and feedback.

Let’s make 2014 the best year yet!  Have a great New Year!!

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If you would like help developing your project management or leadership skills contact me at carol@delta-group-llc.com.  I can help you create clarity around your goals, develop a strategy to reach them and support your during your efforts.

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Quote for Nov 14th

to do listSmall deeds done are better than great deeds planned.
Peter Marshall 

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Do You Get Lost along the Extra Mile?

Montain summerWe regularly hear that going the extra mile will make you stand out in the crowd.  It’s a valuable way of getting noticed by the decision makers in your organization.  Customers and bosses appreciate people who are willing to step up and tackle additional assignments.  It can be very tempting to say yes to every request you get.  Take care before you jump into something that is above and beyond your normal duties.  If you bite off more than you can chew you will actually do damage to your reputation and career.

So when is it a good idea to take on something extra?  Ask yourself these questions before you jump in:

  • Can I handle this in addition to everything else?
  • Will it help me get needed experience?
  • Who else is going to be involved? (Will there be people I would like to get to know involved?)
  • What additional visibility will it give me in my organization?
  • Why am I being asked to get involved? (Is this being dumped on me or will it help me?)

If you can answer these questions in a positive way, then by all means get involved.  It will do your career a lot of good to get new experiences and be seen by others throughout your organization.  Having a chance to meet new people and learn about other parts of the organization is very valuable.

When you look at questions above and if the answers are negative, decline to get involved in a respectful and professional manner.  If your current workload is too high to handle an extra assignment make sure you explain that you want to give your best all you do so you have to focus on what you already have to do.  There will be times when you have to take on the extra work even though you are overloaded and overwhelmed.

In the event that you are going above and beyond your normal duties and things are slipping address the problems immediately.  You may need to do one of the following items:

  1. Request an extension on a due date that you will be hard pressed to make.
  2. Get help with some of the tasks you have to complete.
  3. Work longer hours or work on the weekend to get it all done.
  4. See if the priority of an item can be lowered to make sure you have time for other tasks.

Getting in over your head is tough and can be very discouraging.  How you handle it will make a big difference in how your boss views your abilities.  Stepping up to fix the situation will help them see you as a problem solver.  When things are starting to slip go to your boss with a calm, professional assessment of the situation and bring some ideas of how you can get it resolved.  Have them help you figure out the best approach.  They may be able to push something back or get you help.  Asking in a professional manner will do more for you than whining about what is asked of you.

Going the extra mile is great for your career.  Make sure you don’t get lost on that road and lose sight of what needs to be done.  Taking on extra work only helps you if you keep up with your normal duties.

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It’s Time to Focus

??????????????As you start your week and look at all the things that you need to accomplish each day do you feel overwhelmed?  It’s easy to get dragged down by all that requires our attention.  The key is to get a good handle on what needs to happen and make a plan to get it done.  The first step is to identify the important things that must be accomplished this week.  Then you have to create space and time to get them done.

To make the most of the time you spend on the important items you must focus clearly on the task at hand.  This can be very hard to do in this busy and noisy world.  However, there are several steps you can take to help clear the air around you to get things done.

Tips:

  1. Know your peak time.  When are you most productive? Is it early morning, late morning, or afternoon?  Use this time to get the things done that need the most attention and focus.
  2. Block time on your calendar.  Schedule an appointment with yourself to get work done during your peak time.  This will allow you time and space to focus your attention on the important tasks.
  3. Tune out.  Close your email, turn off the ringer on your phone, and close any instant messaging programs.  This is time to focus so eliminate or minimize distractions.
  4. Get your energy up.  Do something that will raise your energy level.  Listen to music that gets you charged up, take a quick walk at a brisk pace, close your eyes and get yourself centered or whatever works for you.
  5. Just do it.  Now that you’ve cleared time and distractions sit down and get to work.  Keep your mind on the task at hand and table other thoughts that come wandering in.  If needed make a note and get back to work.
  6. Celebrate completion.  Take a minute to relish the feeling of getting it done!  Check it off your to-do list and now it’s time to get moving on the next item.

If you start the week with a plan of how and when you will get things done, starting with the important items you will be much more successful in reaching those goals.  Know that things may come up that change your plans and force you to reorganize your time.  That’s okay.  If you have identified the big items to get done you will keep them in your sights and get them done.  The smaller, less important tasks will be the ones that move around instead of the important ones.  It’s easier to make room for the small tasks than it is the big ones.  Start big and work your way down.  You will get more done than starting small and working up.

Plan to focus and then work your plan.  Have a great and productive week.

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Sharpen Focus to Achieve Goals

Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binocularsTo reach your goals you must focus on them.  Focusing involves two unique steps, sight and sharpness.  Like using binoculars you must first look in the right direction, get the object in your sights.  Next you have to adjust the binoculars so you can see the object clearly.  Focusing on your goals requires the same two steps.

First you must know what to look at, what is the goal you want to accomplish.  What are your long term and short term goals?  What things do you need to do to reach these goals?  At this stage it is important to step back and look at where you want to go and what path you want to take to get there.  If you want to have a balance in your life between work and family then you will need to create goals around how much you will work or how you will prioritize family involvement.  Start with the high level goals such as “Spend more time with my family” and “Work less on weekends”.  Now you have an idea of what you will be focusing on, and it’s time to get clear on what that means.

Once you know what your goal looks like you need to sharpen your focus.  This goal must be something that you have clearly defined.  You know what it is, you know what it looks like, how your life will be different, and how you will feel upon successfully reaching it.  This is similar to the idea of adjusting the binoculars to get the image clear in your sights.  The more clearly you can describe and visualize the goal and life after reaching it the easier it will be to bring it into focus.  This means more than just saying “I will spend with my family”.  It means being crystal clear such as “I will be home for dinner with my family at least 4 days each week and I will not work on weekends”.  The second version is much more specific and it’s easier to see if you are meeting this goal.

The first step is to identify what is your goal and then you get clear on what it means to you.  Taking these two steps will help you take action.  You will know where you’re headed and how you are going to get there.  It takes vision and clarity to reach your goals so improve your focus by defining your goals and getting clear on what that goal means to you.  Once you have these in your sights you can create the action steps needed to reach them.  You will be on your way!

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Interesting Articles from March

Businesswoman Sitting at Desk ReadingHere are some of the interesting articles that I read during March.  I hope you find them interesting and find some helpful information.

Leadership:

  • This is a great look at how to handle mistakes.  I have long been a believer that when things go wrong the best thing to say is “I made a mistake” and move forward from there.  From Dan Rockwell at Leadership Freak. I Made a Mistake
  • From Mark Hopkins at Great Leadership is a wonderful reminder that developing trust goes a long way towards helping teams perform better and achieve more.  The basis of this approach is “Carefrontation”.  Carefrontation – Ultimate Leadership Trait
  • An interesting look at leadership in today’s world from Switch and Shift.  Leading today is very different than it was even 10 years ago; the speed of change and communication has changed the leadership landscape.

 

Here are some of the interesting articles that I read during March.  I hope you find them interesting and find some helpful information.

Leadership:

  • This is a great look at how to handle mistakes.  I have long been a believer that when things go wrong the best thing to say is “I made a mistake” and move forward from there.  From Dan Rockwell at Leadership Freak. I Made a Mistake
  • From Mark Hopkins at Great Leadership is a wonderful reminder that developing trust goes a long way towards helping teams perform better and achieve more.  The basis of this approach is “Carefrontation”.  Carefrontation – Ultimate Leadership Trait
  • An interesting look at leadership in today’s world from Switch and Shift.  Leading today is very different than it was even 10 years ago; the speed of change and communication has changed the leadership landscape. 6 Contrarian Reasons Why You’re Lucky to Be a Leader Today

 

Productivity:

  • Life Hacker reminds us that spending highly focused time on a project is better than spending ling hours getting it done.  Do Less and Focus Hard – If You’re Busy You’re Doing Something Wrong
  • Do you have problems keeping track of everything on your calendars?  Between work and home many of us have multiple calendars that must be combined to see what is happening next.  Here is a wonderful way of streamlining your calendars from Simple Productivity Blog.com.  Streamlining Calendars
  • When we are in a position where we say “Do more with less” it is counterproductive.  Dan Rockwell shows us why it doesn’t work long-term in this article. Why Do More with Less is Stupid

 

Hope you enjoy these articles.  Please share what has inspired you recently.

Productivity:

  • Life Hacker reminds us that spending highly focused time on a project is better than spending ling hours getting it done.  Do Less and Focus Hard – If You’re Busy You’re Doing Something Wrong
  • Do you have problems keeping track of everything on your calendars?  Between work and home many of us have multiple calendars that must be combined to see what is happening next.  Here is a wonderful way of streamlining your calendars from Simple Productivity Blog.com.  Streamlining Calendars
  • When we are in a position where we say “Do more with less” it is counterproductive.  Dan Rockwell shows us why it doesn’t work long-term in this article. Why Do More with Less is Stupid

 

Hope you enjoy these articles.  Please share what has inspired you recently.

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5 Tips to Increase Your Concentration

ConcentrationIf you are like most of us there days when you just can’t focus on what needs to be done.  You sit and stare at the computer in a futile attempt to get you brain engaged.  All of us have days like this, how we overcome these slumps is what differentiates the highly productive from the average.  There are projects and tasks that require us to concentrate to ensure they are done well and without mistakes.   Being able to focus your concentration when needed is a skill that will help increase your productivity.  Concentrating can be improved with practice and habits.

Here are five tips to help you increase your ability to concentrate and focus more effectively:

  1. Close email and chats:  The pop-ups from these can be very distracting. They create a false sense of urgency so close them when you are focusing on tasks and plan time later to go through everything.  The frequency that you check your emails will depend on how timely your responses must be.  Many people can get by with checking in once an hour.
  2. Take breaks:  We can only focus for short periods of time, so allow for a short break periodically.  Plan on a 5 – 10 minute break every hour and your productivity will increase.  This can be used to check those emails, but make sure you get back to work on the task at hand.
  3. Switch tasks:  Alternate between high attention and low attention tasks.  This gives your mind that break it needs to refresh and stay at peak performance.  Use the breaks to help recharge.
  4. Plan your peak time:  Take time to figure when you are most productive.  For some it’s the morning and for others it’s the afternoon.  Then plan to do the items that require the most attention and focus during the time of day when you are at your best.  Everyone has a peak time when they really get things done.  Use it wisely.
  5. Deal with worries:  It is hard to focus when we are worrying about other things.  These worries range from deadlines to personality conflicts and everything in between.  When you find your mind wandering off to worry, write down the issue and set aside time later to address it.  This will free your mind from holding onto it and it allows you to concentrate on the current task now and problem solving the worry later.

If you plan how you will deal with distractions it will help you when it’s time to get serious about concentrating on the task at hand.  Establish methods that help you reduce the interruptions and carve out time to spend on the high attention tasks.  The more you make focusing a habit the easier it becomes and the faster you will recover when you find yourself getting pulled into the interruptions.

Increasing your ability to concentrate requires a plan and methods for dealing with the daily distractions.  When your priorities are clear, you know what needs your undivided attention, and you have methods for clearing your mind and reducing distractions you will increase your productivity and get more done.

What is your favorite method for staying focused?

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Quote for Mar 7th

Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.

Denis Waitley

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Quote for Mar 5th

Either you run the day or the day runs you.
Jim Rohn

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Time Management Myth

HourglassThere is a prevailing myth that we, as humans, can manage time.  We really can’t.  There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day – every day and it’s the same amount for everyone.  So why is it that some people seem to get so much more out of their time?  They recognize that they can’t manage time; however, they can use that time effectively to get things done.

Time management is about effective time utilization.  It’s that easy and it’s that hard.  So how can we get the most out of our time each day?  Here are three keys to get you started:

  1. Know what’s important.
  2. Understand time needed for what’s important.
  3. Block out time for the important.

The first thing to do is to get clear on what’s important.  These are the things you need and want to do.  On the job they are your job responsibilities and goals.  This may be a weekly report, month end statements, or the project that is due on Tuesday.   In your personal life, these are the things that are important to your life goals.  These may be spending time with family and friends, exercising, enjoying your hobbies.  Whatever is important, make note of it, take the time to get clear and stay aware of what’s critical to your job and your life.  Make a list so you can stay on top of them.

Now that you know what is important take the time to figure out what is required for each item.  The weekly report may take an hour each Friday; okay make a note of it.  If the month end statements take a day, recognize it.  If you want to exercise an hour four times a week it’s important to take that into consideration.  Assign time for each of the important items on your list.

Finally, when you know how much time is needed for the important things you can open your calendar and start blocking out time for each item.  The weekly report that takes an hour every Friday should have an appointment with you every Friday.  If you need an hour four mornings a week to exercise, schedule it – make an appointment with yourself to get in shape.  When we look at our calendars the things that are scheduled and have time blocked out are more likely to get done as planned.  These items are compelling on our calendar so put the items from your important list on your calendar.

People who effectively use their time to get things done recognize these three steps and follow them.  Their exact method probably varies, but they acknowledge and make time for what’s important to them.  This gives them control over what they do each day and they are focused on accomplishing the important goals and spending their time on important things.

We each have the same amount of time each day, what we do with it is up to us.  Make this a great day!

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