Do you know what time it is? It’s “Time Management” month. Did you know there was such an occasion? Yes indeed! Consider for a moment that “time management” is much more than how you plan and spend your time each day. In my seminars I often ask: “Can you manage time?” I always receive a variety of answers; but my answer is “No.” Instead, you must learn how to manage actions and choose to spend your time. In other words; “actions that produce productive results lead to the efficient management of time.”
There are many actions and techniques that you can employ to help you be more productive and hopefully save you some time.
Starting today use these three specific actions and I guarantee you will save some of your valuable time
1. Stop hiding behind e-mail. Sometimes it’s better to just pick up the phone, have a five-minute call, get to the point, listen to the tone and get your questions asked/resolved. Stop the back-and-forth; it takes more time. And, if you need to cover your you-know-what, then write a brief follow-up e-mail to summarize the key points discussed and file that away.
2. Use one electronic task management system. Yes, “electronic.” If you still prefer a paper list, print your electronic list and use it to jot things down throughout the day. Everyone needs a location to store ideas, tasks and projects to get them out of their head and down into a collection tool. I recognize there are numerous tools (software, apps, etc…) to help you track and organize your tasks. The number one problem I see with task management systems is that the end user never fully implements the system and doesn’t get all of the tasks into a system to they can use it on a daily basis. I also see a lot of wasted time trying to take a system or methodology (such as GTD – Getting Things Done) and spending so much time trying to get the software or app to “conform” to the methodology that they end up not getting things done. So far I’ve not found the perfect piece of software, cloud-based tool or app that solves everyone’s needs 100%, what I look for instead is “how” can we use 80% of the functionality and perhaps slightly modify our methodology so that it’s a great fit for everyday use.
Please understand that there is a difference between a “task” and a “project” and there are solutions to help you manage both. Action Method is a great example of a tool that allows you to track both. A “task” is a single action item, while a “project” is comprised of multiple action items.
My final bit of advice on this action is that you ensure your electronic task management system of choice syncs to all of your computers and mobile devices so you always have the most up-to-date version of your lists at your fingertips. At the end of this newsletter, I share information about a FREE app that will help you synchronize your tasks in Outlook to your iPhone if you don’t like how the “reminders” in the latest version of the Apple iOS displays them on your iPhone.
3. Schedule time for administrative tasks. Everyone has some administrative tasks they need to complete on a weekly basis. However, unless you are in an administrative role, you may not have considered that these may never get done if you don’t make time for them. Small business owners and entrepreneurs are notorious for avoiding such vital activities as recording expenses, invoicing, following up with clients, paying bills and keeping customer information current in a CRM.
Just this week I had a call with a potential client who claimed she had piles all over her desk, yet stated she had multiple systems to manage all of her client’s paperwork. She also knew that she should only touch a piece of paper once. When she was offered help, her response was “no one can help me.” I would beg to disagree. What the conversation really boiled down to was that while a)she had a system(s) and b) knew what to do, she never scheduled time on a daily or weekly basis for this task. Over time, as the piles built up, it this task became much more time-consuming to look at old information and make decisions. If this was done on a more frequent basis, it would require far less time to complete the same task.
And to her point you should only touch a piece of paper once; I disagree. There are “some” papers you should only touch once and be done with them; but the majority of paper you will need to touch more than once. What you need is a place to temporarily store them until you are ready to take the next action.
There is one final thought I’d like to leave you with….”Everyone is busy, not everyone is productive.” I hope that you will discover that if you implement just one of these actions that you will save a bit of time – time you can use for something you really enjoy!
Microsoft Outlook Productivity Tips
Here are three things you can do immediately regardless of the version of Outlook you use - to help save a bit of embarrassment and time:
1. Attach the attachment first. If you know you need to attach a file(s) when you begin composing your message, attach them first so you don't accidentally hit "send" before they are attached.
2. Enter the names in the TO and CC fields AFTER you have written the message. This way you don't accidentally send the e-mail prematurely.
3. Create a "hyper-link" in your e-mail message instead of typing or copying the entire link into your e-mail message. In the example below, you can see how I provided someone with two links to pages on our website; without listing out the long, ugly URL. I also didn't have to type it in manually, only to forget a letter or transpose one and then send someone to the wrong page or a page that doesnt' exist. Here are the 5 simple steps to create a hyper-link. Note: I used Outlook 2010 to document these steps; however they are similar in previous versions:
a. Navigate to the website page you want to hyper-link. Copy the URL (website address) from the browser bar.
b. In the body of your e-mail, highlight the word or words you want the reader to click on to access the link.
c. Click on the Insert tab and then on the Hyperlink button.
d. In the Insert Hyperlink dialog box, paste the website link in the Address field at the bottom and click OK.
e. Your text in your e-mail will now be hyperlinked and will look similar to the message below that I copied from a recent e-mail I sent someone:
Here is a link to our Relocation Serivces for your review. There is also a downloadable brochure that contains this information. Additionally, here is a link to our Public Seminars page - for example; today I am speakt at the Seattle Home Show.
Thank You for Joining me at a Recent Library Event
Thank you for attending one of my recent seminars at the libraries; those programs were: Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life OR Rightsizing: Less Stuff = Less Stress
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If you're on Twitter you can follow me on: @lauraleist - for Business Productivity tips @eliminatechaos - for Residential Organizing tips
I hope you enjoy this newsletter and you will receive the 2nd quarter one sometime in May or June.
If for some reason you asked to receive a free phone-consult with me, but have not received a call; please give our office a call at 425.670.2551 and Christina will be happy to schedule that with me for you.
Enjoy! ~Laura Leist, CPO
Sync Tasks, Notes and More with IMExchange 2
IMExchange2 is a free app that allows you to synchronize your tasks, notes and contacts with Outlook. This product works best if you are using Exchange 2003 or 2007; however there have been issues reported with 2010. If you don't like how your Tasks in Outlook sync to your iPhone you may want to consider this app.
Get Organized at Work!
Click here to read an article I wrote for 425 Magazine about ways to get organized at work.