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Bust up Your Routine to Make Time Slow Down

In the quest to catch up with today, overturning some of your time-honored routines can help

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Are you living in real time or are you trying to catch up? Sometimes, in the quest to catch up with today, overturning some of your time-honored routines can help. For example:

1. Arise one hour earlier. Sixty years ago, the concept of late night (11:00 p.m.) news was unknown. People went to bed at 9:30 or 10:00. Once people began staying up for the late news, the networks began running late night talk shows. As a result, the entire population is staying up later than the previous generation.

Why not go to bed earlier, and wake up an hour earlier? In that extra hour, you can watch the sun rise, meditate, do some exercises, or go to work before traffic gets bad. The activities you undertake in that early hour can affect your perspective on the whole day. To get a fresh perspective, shake up your routine and get up earlier!

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2. Work on your home’s porch instead of in the office. When you change your venue and the scenery, you open up new vistas. Alternatively, work under a tree or at a pool during nice weather. Being outdoors opens up a way of viewing things that you cannot get in the office. When working in a natural, tranquil setting, you’ll gain peace of mind in your otherwise hectic work routine. Do this for some of your tasks (especially tasks that require conceptualization or creative thinking), and you’ll be more productive than ever before.

Begin to identify the places in your life that are welcome retreats to go and work whether they be a library, or even simply sitting in your car in a shopping center parking lot. When you change where you’re working, you can benefit quickly.

3. If possible, don’t get your mail until Friday. Postpone tearing through all your mail. Most things are not so urgent that you need to attend to them each day. We often tend to place an unnecessary immediacy upon our lives.

4. If possible, hold all calls for a while. Think of it as if you were on vacation and unable to be reached for a couple of days. You don’t have to respond immediately to every call. When you hold your calls for a few hours – or a day – you open up time to get things done in a way that is impossible when you are preoccupied with answering calls. Work surveys show that the primary disruption and time-waster of the workday is the telephone.

5. Drop the unproductive 80 percent of your activities. The Pareto Principle (the “80/20” rule) states that 80 percent of your activities contribute to only 20 percent of your results. The remaining 20 percent of your activities contribute to the other 80 percent of your results. Take a hardware store for example: about 20 percent of its stock accounts for 80 percent of the revenues; the remaining 80 percent of the stock accounts for only 20 percent of the revenues.

The key to successful retailing is identifying the 20 percent producing the bulk of the revenues. A smart store manager knows to place that 20 percent where it is most accessible, and to put the rest where, though it can be reached, it is out of the immediate way. Identify which activities in your work (and personal life) support you, and are bringing you the best results. Have the strength to abandon those activities that are not benefiting you – get rid of that unproductive 80 percent.

6. Ask For Input – Have you ever gone to lunch with a colleague and begun discussing ways to approach your work more effectively? After a few minutes, you both are deep into the conversation, generating all sorts of great ideas. Then, when the waiter takes your order or brings your check, what occurs? The conversation dies down.

When you both go back to work, those ideas are often forgotten or put on a back burner. If you consciously schedule a meeting for the sole purpose of letting the creative sparks fly, you’ll grab control of your time, and have some of the most productive sessions you’ve ever had.

When you come in contact with other people, you’re exposed to whole new worlds – their worlds. When you interact with another person, you get the benefit of his/her information, in addition to your own.

Stay Tuned

Always be on the lookout for other ways to shake up your routine, especially for the insights and breakthroughs that might result – every day and every moment holds great potential.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Business

Smart Move in a Rough Economy: Help Your Boss to Shine

Stay on top of your job, your department’s goals, and your company’s objectives

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Making your boss look good can only reflect favorably on you. Both your boss and his or her supervisors will appreciate this.

The best way to make your boss look good is to handle your work efficiently and thoroughly. If your boss is fair, he or she will give you credit for the work, increasing your chances of promotion.

If your boss is not doing his or her share of the work, leaning on you unfairly without giving you the credit, it’s still likely that you’ll be promoted when your boss is promoted. That person knows you’ve been doing more than your share, and he or she won’t be able to take a new position without your help.

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Becoming a Mentor to Others

Maybe you’re only 27 years old, or perhaps you’ve only been with your present firm for a year and a half. Yet, with your previous experience and achievements, you may already be in a position to serve as a mentor to junior members of your organization. This can be accomplished on an informal, ad hoc basis, and you can literally choose the amount of energy you’re willing to commit. Helping junior members always looks good to those above you, especially at performance review time.

Stay on top of your job, your department’s goals, and your company’s objectives. This three-way strategy includes reviewing your job description, deciding precisely what your department’s goals are, and determining your company’s objectives:

Your Job Description

First, knowing your job description and honoring it, or amending it if necessary, protect you from any misunderstandings. It will also give you an idea of the part you play in the total picture of the organization, an important factor in your work satisfaction and chance of promotion.

Your job description ideally contains all the important activities of your position, the knowledge you need to have or acquire to perform those activities, and some sense of your overall role. If your job description does not adequately detail the information you need to know and the responsibilities you have, now is the time to change it.

Company Goals

Second, learn and understand the goals of your part of the company. By whatever method your organization is broken into groups — department, division, project team — your group has objectives.

Goals are important to guide actions as well as to mark milestones. Knowing your group’s goals will help you to set priorities for your own work and make wise decisions concerning how jobs can best be done.

What is the Mission?

Finally, be aware of your organization’s mission. Any organization, from the smallest business to the multibillion-dollar corporation, has a mission. If you don’t already know it, find out. Your organization’s brochure, annual report, promotional literature, or employee handbook will have the mission spelled out.

The mission will unify and give meaning to all the division or department goals. Although conflicts among divisions will occur because of the nature of different responsibilities, a solid base can be produced when all employees realize the overall mission of the organization.

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Business

Lessons of the 2020s: Unanticipated Events Happen

Unforeseen tasks that arise represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being as well as on our time

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By now, nearly everyone has mentally marked the first few years of this decade as strange and, for those on the right, entirely upsetting. While we can’t guard against the unknown, or anticipate radical moves emanating from Washington DC, we can seek to do our best with what we have and what we know.

Each day when you compose your to-do list and begin proceeding merrily down it, do you take into account what is likely to occur in the course of a day? No matter how well we organize our lists and how productive we are in handling the products and tasks unexpected obligations, interruptions, and other developments arise that are going to throw us off.

How do you react when you are humming along, and all of a sudden, you get an assignment from out of left field? Perhaps your boss has asked you to jump on something immediately. Maybe a client calls. Maybe something gets returned to you that you thought was complete.

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To Be Flustered No More

If you are like most professionals, you immediately will become flustered. The intrusion on your time and your progress means that you are not going to accomplish all that you set out to before the end of the day. Is there a way to proceed and still feel good about all that you accomplish?

I believe there is, and it involves first making a miniature, supplemental to-do list that accurately encapsulates the new task that you need to handle. Why create this supplemental to-do list? It gives you focus and direction, reduces anxiety, and increases the probability that you will remain buoyant at the time of its completion and be able to turn back to what you were doing before the task was assigned.

If you don’t compose such a list, and simply plow headlong into the unexpected challenge that has come your way, you might not proceed effectively, and you might never get back to the to-do list on which you were working.

Anticipating the Unexpected

Unforeseen tasks that arise represent more than intrusions on our time; they represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being. Some people are naturally good at handling unexpected situations. Most of us, however, are not wired like this. Interruptions and intrusions on our workday take us off the path that we wanted to follow, and tend to be at least momentarily upsetting.

So… when executing the items on your to-do list, proceed ‘knowing’ that there will be an interruption of some sort. You don’t know when it is coming or how large it will be, but it will pull you off course. The key question for you is: can you develop the capacity to maintain balance and equanimity in the face of such disruptions?

The good news is that you can, and it all starts with acknowledging that the situation is likely to happen, devising a supplemental checklist to handle the new task, and as deftly as possible, returning to what you were doing.

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