Tag: Time Management

The 3 Crucial Steps to Managing Your Time and Getting Things Done Efficiently

There’s a limited amount of time in each day and an unlimited amount of things you could do with that time.  Like everyone else, I often feel busy but don’t always see what I’ve accomplished when the day is done.  With funny videos being posted on Facebook, texts, emails, popular articles surfacing on your timeline on Twitter, there are countless things to pique your interest and make you veer away from the day’s agenda.

A few days ago, I was catching up with a friend who is 800 miles away. Our catchup session was longer than usual since our schedules often conflict.  We soon realized that we had both fallen victim to sleeping in, relaxing and not tackling the things on our to-do lists as planned.  Of course you need to take it easy sometimes, but my plan was to be up and out the door by around 8 AM so I was already hours behind schedule.

So I spent some time thinking about what it really takes to get manage your time and get things done.  I started with a long list but in terms of what is truly crucial and consequential, I was left with these three steps:

1.  Figure out what you need to do.  Without direction, an objective and a clear list of tasks, it is hard to move forward and accomplish anything.  So the first thing is to figure out what you need to get done.  If you’re following through on directives from others, make sure you’re clear on the details.  If you’re running the show and creating and tackling your own list, make sure you’re honest with yourself so you include everything.

2.  Prioritize your list.  One really important skills is to know what to work on now and what can wait.  Not everything in your list will be high priority and being able to attack your list accordingly will really impact your effectiveness.  This is especially important if you’re reporting to others who are depending on your output.

3.  Get things done, efficiently.  If you’re working on your list, that’s generally a good thing. But don’t spend all day working on one item with 20 more left untouched.  Being busy doesn’t always translate to effectiveness so make sure you’re not spinning your wheels unnecessarily.  In between tasks that require a lot of focus, do lighter tasks or take a break altogether to do something different.  Stepping away will usually give you that boost and revitalization you need.

My friend and I eventually got our acts together and by the time I checked in later in the day, she had called her cell phone provider and was well on her way to getting a new phone within the week.  Some time ago, her iPhone stopped working so she reverted to an old flip phone because she wasn’t due for an upgrade for two months.  By picking up the phone and sharing she was considering switching providers, she got her monthly bill lowered and the option to upgrade her phone immediately for a minimum down payment.  On my end, I revisited the installation of some software onto my new computer and got it to work with one try after multiple failed attempts the night before.  Now I finally had access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint which I needed to do other things on my list.

So get your list, your coffee and snacks and get to work.  You’ll see how amazing the power of the start is!

Do you ever feel like you could do a better job of managing your time and getting things done?  What are some obstacles you face?  How do you get on track and accomplish things?

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Words of Wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barack Obama

TheAfter5Edge - Words of Wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barack Obama

Two great men who have stepped up to the plate to lead in the best interest of others.  They’ve taken on a challenge most of us couldn’t even imagine so that they could steer others in the right direction and do what they can to create a better tomorrow.  In their roles, they’ve put others first in a bold way.  With the steps taken by Martin Luther King, Jr. decades ago, how fitting is it that the first black president of the United States is taking his oath for a second term on King’s nationally recognized holiday?  It is also noteworthy that it is only the second time that Inauguration Day has fallen on King’s holiday.

It is moving.  As we’re celebrating progress and looking forward, we’re reminded of where it all started.  Personally, I’m reminded that you never know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re coming from.  In the spirit of reflecting, I wanted to share some words of wisdom by these two men:

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.  – President Barack Obama

It is easier to have someone else be the catalyst and lead.  But if we truly want something, we need to get started and make it happen.  If something is making you restless, do something and make necessary changes.

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential. – President Barack Obama

What is your purpose for being here?  How do you want to make a difference?  What legacy do you want to live?  Once you figure that out, start “doing” and see the impact, you will feel more fulfilled.

It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today. – President Barack Obama

Yes.  Martin Luther King, Jr. did his part.  President Barack Obama is doing his part.  But don’t forget that each of us is responsible for doing our part too.  It is all about passing on the torch and working together.  That’s the only way we can have a better tomorrow.

If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress. – President Barack Obama

Success has a lot to do with persistence and staying the course.  Don’t give up.  Keep pushing and keep working hard.  You will see results.

Even when folks are hitting you over the head, you can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop. – President Barack Obama

Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t stop marching.  And neither should you.  Negativity, adversity, and criticism should never stand in your way when you have your eyes on the prize.

I just miss – I miss being anonymous. – President Barack Obama

We give our leaders great responsibilities and we expect a lot from them.  All the while, we forget how much work it is.  When we’re sleeping, they’re planning and thinking up new strategies.  We’re focused on quick results and we forget that things take time.  We also forget that they are simply, humans.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

These words have special meaning to me and for this blog.  Thanks to these words, I had the courage to begin this journey.  I took the first step.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

It take a lot more courage to stand up against the majority than to go along.  If you know and believe something is right, stand your ground.  Integrity is respectable and commendable.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

A great leader has a vision and is able to communicate this vision to others in a way that helps them understand its importance and moves them to act.  It isn’t easy to motivate others to carry out an idea that isn’t their own.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Think of those who have made a change in business, technology, medicine, life, etc.  It takes being bold, creative, and going against the status quo to think outside the box and explore innovative solutions.  Don’t ever be afraid of being different; you may end up changing the world.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Make it a priority to be a resource to others.  Ask them how you can help.  It may be a small task for you but it may change someone’s life.

We must use time creatively. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

We aren’t here forever.  Our time here is short.  Find a way to maximize your time.  Pay it forward.  Dream big.  Leave a lasting legacy through others.

What are your thoughts on President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr.?  And them now sharing a special day?  I would love your comments below!


Create More Time By Effectively Managing Your Email

Time. We all want more of it. With meetings, phone calls, projects, deadlines and so many other things to do, the 24 hours in each day just aren’t enough.  The 24 hours themselves won’t change, but there are ways to be proactive about how you manage your time.  These ways also results in opportunities to “create” more time for your priorities.

These days, it is not unusual to receive more than 50 emails per day.  People are more likely to send an email than to pick up the phone or walk to relay a message.  And in addition to routine emails, there are newsletters, notifications from social media sites, and online banking email updates to make you reach your mailbox quota faster than ever.

So how can you take control?  Before you become more overwhelmed by the current number of unread emails in your inbox, here are some tips to get things in order sooner rather than later:

Create set times for checking emails.  It is easy to get distracted when you hear that email notification sound on your computer or see the light flashing on your phone.  But if you’re currently in the middle of something, switching gears can result in inefficiency.  Decide which times of the day work best for checking your emails and stick to them.  Tip: Early morning and mid afternoon work well.  This way, you can incorporate priority items in your day’s plan or you still have time left at the end of the day for items that require immediate attention.

Be decisive.  This will help you address emails right away or not at all.  It is easy to get into the habit of thinking that you’ll return to the email at a later time to read it in its entirety.  But chances are, past behavior will show that you won’t. Address the email right away by responding, flagging it if it requires more time than you currently have or deleting it.  Tip: Develop a system for how you flag items so you know exactly what it means when you see a certain color, for example.

Decide to let go.  It is important to determine which emails you get value from and which ones are taking away your time.  At some point, subscribing to every newsletter is not advantageous because you won’t realistically have time to read all of them.   Tip: Consider emails you may have been receiving over a period of time and haven’t read.  Don’t be afraid to delete them or unsubscribe.

Develop a strategy for deleting.  If you have 5000 unread emails, it won’t be efficient to go through all your emails to find and delete them one-by-one.  Filter your emails to show only the unread ones so you can see the entire picture.  Tip:  Once you’ve identified a set of emails that you no longer need, search by a common theme to delete them in bulk.  For instance, you can search by the incoming email address or the title of the emails if they have identical wording.  Select them all and delete!

Categorize and filter incoming emails.  Use labels and folders to your advantage and have certain emails go directly to these folders.  You may even have them bypass your inbox if they are not priority items.  Tip: For general FYI emails and newsletters, have these bypass your inbox and go to a folder that you can revisit later.  This way, when you open your inbox, you’re left only with important emails.

Reconsider your subscriptions.  Some subscriptions allow you to sign-up for multiple newsletters.  Do you need all 5?  Or can you cut this down to two?  Tip: Consider changing your subscription preferences so you receive your digest on a weekly or monthly basis instead of daily.

With these practices, you gain more control of your own time.  And instead of reacting, you are proactive about how you manage your time.  As you limit the amount you allot to addressing emails, you create more time that you can allocate to other aspects of your life.

Do you have a hard time being in control of your time and emails?  What techniques have you tried to take control of the situation? 


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