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Archive for August, 2012


Step Out of Your Routine

If you want to increase your creativity, shake things up.

Most of us do routine things automatically, like what route we take to and from work, when we do the filing, where we usually sit in a movie theater. Creative people, on the other hand, look for ways to introduce variety into their lives and work. They like change and are willing to take calculated risks to make things happen, increase their knowledge and stretch their skill sets.

Step out of the routine and open up to new ideas and horizons. You might make discoveries that enrich your life. Take a new route to work. Ride your bike instead of driving your car. Walk around a block you haven’t explored in a while. Try a cuisine that is unfamiliar.

Shake up your work routines, too. Question processes and procedures, especially those you do without thinking about it. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean you should continue to do so. Ask if it can be done faster, easier, more efficiently.  When you have the answer, just do it!


Time Management vs Action Management

Stop thinking about “time management” and start thinking about “action management”.  You cannot control time but you can control the actions that take up your time.

Divide your day into actions that support your goals. For example, take action on completing the next step of a major project, write part of a report, do research on a proposal. Allow time to reflect on what you intend to do next and include routine activities like daily tasks, checking email and responding to phone calls. As you consider the actions you are going to take, remember: You are paying for them with time, and there are no refunds.

Setting appointments with yourself is one of the best ways to ensure your actions support your goals. Block out time on your calendar just as if you were making an appointment or scheduling a meeting. Honor these times, and do what you intended when the appointment times arrive.

By scheduling time for yourself, what you’ll find is at the end of the day, you’ll actually accomplish what you wanted to do, instead of what everyone else wanted you to do. Now that’s being positively productive!


Tips to Balance Work/Life Demands

Surveys show that employees struggle with achieving a work-life balance more than just about any other area. Does work have to devour your life, or can you put it in its proper place? Here are three ideas on achieving a work/life balance:

  1. Take time outs. Stop trying to be a superstar. Sometimes we believe that if we stay late, take work home and never take time for lunch, we will be noticed—but maybe for all the wrong reasons. Set priorities and focus on what is most important. Intentionally schedule personal time into your week for family, friends, exercise—anything that gives you a break. We all need some down time.
  2. Get off the grid. Turn off the phone and the computer and go for a walk, run or bike ride. Work will still be there when you get back, but unless you turn off your personal devices, they will continue to speak to you.
  3. Take action. Schedule time for exercise or some physical activity every day. It will send a message to everyone (including yourself) that you are committed to taking care of yourself!

Tips for Managing Multiple Priorities

Busy is truly the new normal, and the higher you rise on the organizational chart, the more priorities you need to juggle. You need to figure out how to meet all your deadlines and put first things first while juggling dozens of tasks. Here are three ideas that can help:

  1. Mix it up. No one can push hard all of the time, so you need to figure out which actives will tax you mentally and physically and which ones will not. Then, mix the two, so that you don’t burn out by Tuesday afternoon. Optimally, you need to switch gears about every 90 minutes in order to remain productive and effective.
  2. Take time to plan. Spend time planning each day and write down your priorities on paper, in your phone or on your computer, whichever note system works best for you. Each day and week should have a list of top priorities, but be sure to mix in the easy tasks (see #1) to give your brain and body a bit of a break as you complete your action items.
  3. Prioritize. Determine which priorities are “must-dos” and which can be delegates. Be aware of who wants what and when, and who can wait. Don’t let false guilt drive your priority choices. Put tasks at the top that are essential for your major job responsibilities and/or are needed to meet a hard deadline.