A Spooky Tale of Poor Productivity

This post is going to be a bit different. Every once in a while I like to write a post that makes a reference to the season of the year. We are around the time of year where people like to be spooked and scared, and several people celebrate Halloween. While I'm personally no fan of horror movies; however, I have seen several "horror" time management situations in my life. Just for fun, I'm going to list a few scenarios that will provide a reminder of time management and productivity gone wrong, and even so what happens when these things are absent. It can get quite scary when you don't have good time management or productivity in place, and can last much longer than a single day or month of the year. So be prepared to be spooked, and hopefully scared straight into better productivity methods! 

  1. Scenario #1. You are in school. You committed to be part of too many activities and have a ton of assignments to do. You did not plan ahead and barely looked at syllabus for each of your courses. Midterms are quickly approaching and you also have a paper due and a team presentation coming up after that. You understood that these assignments were due in a couple of weeks or even a month away so you were completely down with relaxing, hanging out with friends, and doing whatever else you could imagine other than studying. Now three of your midterms are next week and you just about did the assignments with out any studying. You are now forced to stay up most of each night and pretty much give up all of your activities that you enjoy because you have to keep your grades up. To add insult to injury, you have realize that your paper that you thought was due in two weeks on the 19th, is actually due tomorrow, on the 9th. Apparently, you made a typo.

  2. Scenario #2. You are at a stressful jobs with tons of different things that need to be done and they need to be done now. Your to do list already has 100+ items on it and it is growing by the minute. It is a task in itself just determining the priorities for the next hour. There are tasks that come all different directions and you are so busy and you can't seem to get caught up. It is not only the quantity of the tasks, but also what you have to do to get things done. There is communication required in many different ways means with all kinds of emails and communications and it is very easy to track of where you are in each of the processes. You have tried all kinds of methods to get the job done the best you can, and you seem to be buried beneath and are not able to get out from under the mountain of work. On top of that you are doing something that you are not good at and don't enjoy. Someone else is more suited for this work than you are.

  3. Scenario #3. You have plans with friends that you made several months ago and you committed to. You never made note of these plans therefore you completely forgot about them and got caught up with the rest of your busy life. Your more last minute friends invited you to do something on the same day. To make matters worse, what you committed to last minute is something you'd rather do than what you committed to months ago and it would definitely hurt the feelings of your friends you committed to the first time. You are also going to not look good to the new commitment either by double booking yourself. You have made this a habit and have double booked yourself several times and everyone you know is getting annoyed with this. You are now in a lose-lose situation.

So after reading these "spooky" scenarios, grab some candy and consider the source of the problem. The common thread in these scenarios is a failure to plan ahead and really account for your time and schedule. In the college scenario, there was no planning for each course our realizing how large the commitment to the activities would be. There was additional carelessness in planning regarding the courses and how much work was actually involved. There was even more carelessness in mistaking the date of the paper that was due. A lack of planning and carelessness is also involved in the job scenario. While there may be issues with management and maybe your boss is unreasonable and expects too much to be done, but it is your responsibility to understand what kind of job you are getting into at first and also on understanding the tasks that need to be completed before you commit to doing them. While I am talking about commitment, the whole problem in the social scenario is that you have a bad habit of over-committing yourself and saying yes too often. And again, carelessness plays a role in here. The painful situations can be avoided by these five quick take-a ways.

  1. Always keep a schedule, even if it not that detailed, always have an awareness of what you have to do and when you have to do it

  2. Plan ahead, never just live day to day and make plans haphazardly

  3. Maintain priorities, and make sure you are doing what you need to be doing

  4. Pay attention to what you are doing! Again, don't go through life haphazardly. Realize that what you do doesn't only impact you, but those around you whether it be your classmates, boss, co-workers, family, or friends

  5. Take your life seriously, now not too seriously to the point that you get anxious or sick, but still enough so that you are true to yourself and true and honest to others. Commit to things that are the most authentic to you, and not to everything that you can think of.

I hope you enjoyed this different post and are enjoying the fall weather and the upcoming holiday season. If anything like me, you are probably having just as much a hard time as I am realizing that 2018 is already almost over! Please let me know your thoughts and any suggestions that you may have. 

The Value of a Clear Mind

Have you ever tried to do something late at night when you were really tired? Then wake up the next morning and do the same thing? You can probably quickly determine which worked better for you. If you try to do something without having a clear mind, you will end up wasting much more time than you should. As I have said in previous blog posts, it is very important to do things at the time that works best for you. Here are a few ways to have a clear mind.

  1. Do not multitask. Do not try to multitask much of anything. If you are trying to do something that requires your mind, it should be dedicated all to itself. For example, watching TV and reading should never happen at the same time, you will either focus on the TV or the book, or neither. The only time multitasking can work is like doing something like walking and listening to music or a podcast. This is OK because you do not need to concentrate on how to walk, so you can do that automatically while you dedicate your mind to the podcast content you are listening to.

  2. Be aware of when you are too busy. When you are very busy, you tend to be scatterbrained. You are not able to focus on much of anything and your mind is not clear. It's best to regroup and sort out what your priorities at the moment should be. I have seen countless instances where I could not get much done because I could not focus due to be stretched in too many directions.

  3. Take a break from the activity. Sometimes you just need to do something else to get your focus back on track on the activity you are doing now. Work on another project for a little or do a few quick easy tasks to build productive momentum.

  4. Do something fun. When your mind is not clear and you can't seem to get things done the way you are supposed to be, it is time to do something you enjoy and have fun. Sometimes you have to stop working for a bit, switching activities may not work. Getting your mind off of what you were doing can often allow you to come back with a clear mind to the task

  5. Take care of yourself. To have a clear mind, you also have to be in good health, eating the right foods, having enough sleep, getting proper exercise, etc.

There are plenty of times when we are not functioning with the clearest mind that we could have. This is when we need to realize that and try to find a better time to do the activity we are working on. Although sometimes we won't be able to make any switches to our schedule and we have to do the activity at the time we are doing it. Most of the time, there will be things we can do to make our schedule work out and do the tasks at the best time.

What Wasting Other People's Time Tells About You

I’ve once been on an interview for a job that turned out to be a complete waste of my time. I drove 30 minutes to get there, waited about five minutes after my interview start time to get called in (that in itself was not that bad considering I’ve waited as long as 45 minutes for interviews to start). That wasn’t the problem though but rather was that the interviewer answered a phone call during the interview and then completely forgot what we were talking about. This was only to be followed up with a rude, abrupt ending to the interview because I was not experienced enough. This was something that could have been determined well before I was contacted and brought in for an interview. Everything was on my resume! This kind of behavior tells you about a person. More often than not, if someone doesn’t value other people’s time, they don’t value their own time either. Do yourself a favor and avoid these type of people if possible. 

Now that we are done pointing the finger, let’s take a look at ourselves. How do we know if we are the type of person that is wastes someone else’s time? There are a few ways to tell. People may tell you or hint at it. You may realize it on your own from time to time as well. You may be completely unaware of it. We all end up wasting someone else’s time on occasion, just we all waste our time. Some examples of wasting others time are

  1. Being late to a meeting or appointment

  2. Not listening in a conversation

  3. Not focusing on what you are doing with the other person or people

  4. Distracting others who are trying to focus

  5. Being unreasonable

I am sure there are plenty more ways to waste other people’s time. However, let’s now focus on what we can do to be more aware of how we treat other people’s time.

  1. Know the person. Do your best to know who you are dealing with. There are certain things that would be a waste of time for everyone. However, some people will consider some things worse than others. What is a waste of time to someone may not be to someone else! Someone may freak out if you are 1 minute late, and with someone else you can be 15 minutes late and still wait for them!

  2. Take hints. If you think someone is annoyed with something you did; for example, like running slightly late (5 minutes or less) to a meeting, Take a mental (or maybe even a physical or electronic) note on how each person behaves regarding things like that.

  3. Apologize. If you even think that maybe something you did could have perceived as wasting their time, apologize just in case.

  4. Take inventory. Take a personal inventory of how you spend (or waste) your own time, and this will give you a clue on how it can possibly affect others.

  5. Strive for improvement. Strive to improve yourself always, so that you way you benefit not only yourself, but those around you as well. 

It is excellent to care about how we spend others time as well because how we treat others is a reflection on us. Just like we would want people to respect our time, we should respect each other’s time.

Identifying High Value Activities

A lot of us are busy. Sometimes we are so busy, we have no idea what we are doing that’s actually moving the needle and has value and what doesn’t. Rememer that the busier you are does not equate to you being more productive. If you work 80 hours a week, you many not be doing any better than 60 hours or less a week. If you just keeping yourself busy, I’m going to go out and say that you are probably not even being all that productive. While “busy” and “productive” are not antonyms, they are not necessary synonyms either. It is time to take a minute and reflect on how valuable the things your doing are. Here are just a few points to consider in doing so.

  1. Get all of your activities in one place. Whether you do this on paper, in an spreadsheet, or in an application, be sure to get everything you are doing in one place.
  2. Create a point system for each activity. Use whatever point system you want, I’d recommend 0 to 10.
  3. Multiply the amount of time of each activity by the point score. This could be based on your time budget at first. However, this should be based on your actual activity that you get from tracking your time. This could be down to every single thing you do or more broad to just a few main activities. Do what works best for you, and it is OK to change methods from time to time as well.
  4. Keep a running score for regular set of period. This can be done daily, weekly, or even monthly. Just remember that months are different lengths so multiply by number of days and get an average per day.
  5. Compare your score with your previous score. This can help encourage you to do the tasks that you determine the highest value by seeing a higher score as well. If you are the type of person that enjoys gamifying things, this is the ideal approach.

This is a great way to gauge how well you are spending your time. In addition to keeping a time budget and a detailed schedule, this can also help you gauge your time further. You can also assign points to your schedule or time budget and than compare your score to the actual. Please let me know if you have done anything like this before and what your thoughts on this are.

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When it is Time to Change Your Routine

We all have been there when we feel that our rotuine doesn’treally work, but we don’t quite see the value in changing. There are things that have worked for a while but are not working as much anymore. We cannot expect things to stay the same for ever. We have to come to a place where we can expect to make changes in our routine. There are two different ways to go about this regarding our routine. We can change our routine little by little and refine our schedules. This is the fine tuning aspect of changing our schedules. There are also times when we should overhaul our routines and start a new one from scratch. This is more often the case when we have major changes occur in our life such as relocating, changing jobs, going back to school, getting married, having a child, etc. Hera a few ways to know that it is time for a new schedule and rotuine.

  1. You have trouble following our routine. If you have trouble sticking to your schedule that you once followed closely is a large sign that you need to update your schedule to suit your current situation better.
  2. You consistently find yourself running out of time. If you don’t schedule enough time to do a task, you will always fall short. This is where tracking your time and making a time budget come in play to help you.
  3. You are regularly falling behind. If you can’t seem to keep up with your schedule or routine, then you are too busy. This is the perfect time to cut out some things or at least make a plan to cut out things if you haven’t been able to successfully do so.
  4. You have a lot of empty space in your schedule. If your commitments opened up and your schedule got lighter, there may be a lot of open space on your schedule. if your schedule is too open and does not have enough in, then there is a need for a change as well. Too much free time can lead to wasted time
  5. There are too many inconsistencies. Sometimes little changes over time end up leading you with a schedule with all different times and it may become more complicated than it needs to be. When this happens, it is best to start a new schedule over.

There are plenty of times where it is good to make.a new schedule. I usually revise my routine several times a year. I find it very helpful to keep fixing and updating my routine because I do find myself not following the schedule when it gets outdated. Please let me know your thoughts regarding changing your routine.

Fall Motivation

Fall is here and often like spring we view this time as a time to start fresh and begin new things. It is back to school, back from vacation, and ready to go and get things in order as we begin to look forward to a new routine, fall activities and the upcoming holidays. There are plenty of things to look forward to and to get us motivated. Additionally, we are most likely settling into a new routine now that the summer is over. While some people are excited to embark on a new journey and routine, others mourn the loss of summer, and most of us feel a bit of both. As we navigate through a new season and routine we need to take time to figure out our new routine and what is the best way to go about it. This is an excellent time to put practices in place such as a time budget and a detailed schedule to match our new goals. Here are just a few methods we can use to ensure that we are getting the most out of our new motivation that comes with a new routine.

  1. Always have something to work for. Nothing propels us more than a goal we are trying to reach. Not only should we have a goal or a few in place, but also we should keep in mind the reason we want to reach this goal in the first place. The positive results of us reaching our goals is what motivated to do what is necessary to reach them. More often than not, the steps we take to achieve the goal are not things we particularly enjoy doing, but rather the end result is what makes pushing towards the goal worth it.

  2. Always schedule a reward for doing what you need to do. In achieving our goals, we have tasks that we don't enjoy doing. To motivate us further to do these tasks, we should reward ourselves by doing something we want to do after we do the tasks that we don't care to do.

  3. Write down or type your goal and the end result and read it regularly. As often as you need the motivation to reach your goal, you should read your goal and how your life will be better after the goal is achieved. 

  4. Enjoy what you doing. Knowing the positive end results may make the experience of completing the task. Being that the task is necessary to achieve your desired goal, you might as well enjoy doing the task rather than not enjoying it. 

  5. Persistent Progress. Keep moving on a persistent and consistent basis. The longer you are away from doing something, the harder it is to get back on track. It is much easier to achieve your goal when you have a momentum going.

This should serve as additional tips for motivation to help you achieve your top goals. Please let me know your thoughts and what works for you to achieve your goals more effectively. As for now, enjoy your goal process as well as the beautiful fall weather. 

Why You Should Not Give Up

There are many times in our lives when we come across something that we don’t think we are able to do. We sometimes take on something that looks like it is much easier in the beginning than we originally anticipate it would be. In other words we have bitten out more than we can chew. Every one of us feel like giving up some times and we all feel like this at times like this. There are a few things we can do in times like this to motivate us to keep going forward and not give up.

  1. Slow Down. There are times we want to give up just because we are too busy. Sometimes we are so busy we can’t think straight or sit back and evaluate why we want to give up and what is going on in our lives.
  2. Change Your Routine. Sometimes what we are doing regularly is not working. Sometimes we just need to do something different that will bring us the motivation that we need.
  3. Take a Break. While we may need to slow down, sometimes it isn’t a problem with our pace, but rather we just need to take a break. We should always take breaks, even when we are not over scheduled.
  4. Adjust Your Goal. If your goal is so big or too much at the time, it will do your best to adjust the goal. Making your goal smaller or moving the deadlines back a bit is better than giving up all together.
  5. Get External Motivation and Accountability. It is an excellent idea to get more help when we need it. This could be a close friend, family member, or even a life coach or a mastermind group if you have the means and it’s an appropriate for the goal.

These are a few of the things we can do to keep going when we feel like we should give up or that we can’t make the goal. Let this be motivation for you to keep going if you are thinking of giving up. I wish all the best in whatever goal you are reaching for.

The Trap of Free Time

There are times that I get so busy that I am overwhelmed and stressed just because I can’t find enough time to do the things I want to do. I am sure we all have been there. Sometimes we are just too busy. Sometimes it is the nature of the task that we need to do and other times it is just the mere quantity of the tasks coupled with the fact that we are not sure of what we are doing. This is probably more common and where most of us are most of the time. There is the other end of the spectrum as well. There is a trap that we can fall into when we do find free time. Sometimes we are so busy that when we do have any sort of free time, we just collapse. It is good to get enough rest and not be so busy that we don’t have to practically collapse just to catch our breath. There is also a time when we do have too much free time or when we do have free time we don’t manage it well. I fall into this trap occasionally as well. Especially now that I am not working full time there are times where it is in the back of my mind that I will have time because I do and I end up not managing it right. Here are some tips on what you should do when you find yourself coming across free time and realize you are not using it right.

  1. Make a Time Budget. Even if you are in a position where you do not have a consistent schedule or regularity concerning the amount of time you spend on each activity. Make a budget on the worst case scenario for the most important tasks to ensure that there is enough time for each task. This does come with a caveat; however, do not put so much time into a task to the point that you end up wasting time.

  2. Make a Schedule. I believe you need a schedule even more when you have a lot of free time rather than when you are busy. If you don’t make a detailed scheduled to keep you on task, time will fall out of your schedule quicker than sand will fall through your hands.

  3. Keep a Packed Schedule. Don’t just make a schedule. Sometimes we can make a schedule and all we do is throw away our time and decide not to follow the schedule if we don’t have that much to do. If we schedule enough things to do to keep us busy and motivate us to get everything done, we will do our best to stay on track and at worst may have a few things we have to push off to the next day. The caveat there is sometimes we can have so much to do that we don’t get anything done and end up doing something totally unrelated. This can happen to the best of us.

  4. Keep Moving. It is easiest to keep moving when we are already in motion. Just as physics will tell us, an object in motion tends to stay in motion just as an object at rest tends to stay at rest. The worst thing we can do is stop the momentum when we are moving. It only harder to start up again when we do.

  5. Stay Focused. It is important that we stay focused always, just as much when we do have free time. Free time when focused is much better used when we are focused, even if it’s on recreation, rest, and relaxation. If we are productive and focused in our free time, it is all the easier to get back into gear when we need to be.

There are many things to watch for when we have free time. Just like we want to make the most of our time at work and when we are busy, we want our free time to be used for the fullest as well. The more fulfillment we will find in our the free time, the more motivation we have for when we are busy.

How to Determine Your One Main Goal

We all have goals that we want to achieve. In my previous post, you have read about the reasons why you should narrow it down to one main goal. You may be a person with a lot of goals and really are looking for ways to help you determine the main goal. You will see below ways to determine your main goal.

  1. Your main goal will bring the greatest results. Whatever one of your goals you have that you believe will bring you closest to the life you want is the one you should pursue.
  2. Your main goal will be something you are excited about. You should at least have a good enough passion to motivate you to keep pursuing this goal. It may not be something you are always the most excited to do, but it is something that you derive a lot of satisfaction from doing after it’s done.
  3. Your main goal is not easy. If this big goal you are trying to achieve was easy, it wouldn’t be a big goal. It would be done! Your main goal you are making time for needs to be achieved. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and it wouldn’t be something that pursuing will change.
  4. Your main goal is controversial. The bigger and greater your goal is, the less support you may actually find for it. More often than not, the people around you will not understand why you are going for something so lofty and seemingly unachievable. You will also run into people who don’t understand what you are trying to do, or think you are crazy (or both!).
  5. Your main goal is achievable. While it may looks impossible, it does need to be something you can do. If it is something that someone has done before, but you want to do it in a way that is uniquely you, than it is a goal worth pursuing. There is also the possibility that you do have a goal that no one has ever done before. That can work as well, because you can see that practically everything we do in our lives was done for the first time at some time.

Once you have determined your main goal, you can begin to work towards it! You are now able to employ all the tactics you have as time budgets, detailed schedules, along with every technique that you employ personally to reach your goal. Whatever your main goal is, I wish you all the best!

Why You Should Determine One Main Goal

Many of us already have a goal in mind. Some of us have many goals in mind, in fact, we may have too many goals in mind. On the other end of the spectrum, you may have no idea what your goal is. Regardless of what side of the fence you are, it is most effective to have yourself focused on one main goal. When you are able to do this you will be able to decdicate all of your energy toward the one thing you are working towards. This main goal does not have to have a time limit, it can be short term or long term. It can be something that needs to be done in a month or something like a for year degree. Here are five reasons you should pick one goal and focus on it rather than scattered goals all over the place.

  1. Picking one goal allows you to focus. Anyway that can get you to focus more on what you need to is beneficial. This goes back to growing the largest pumpkin, you take out all of the little pumpkins to allow the pumpkin to grow the largest. This is the same for our goals.
  2. You can make a time budget and schedule based on the one goal. When you are focused on one goal and you are going to allocate as much as your time as you can to that one goal. This saves time on deciding what to do with unexpected free time.
  3. You can determine how much fulfillment you get from your goal. Determining how much satisfaction you get from goal or project can only be truly understood by how doing a lot of it.
  4. You can find out if you want to pursue your goal at all. Sometimes we make goals and realize they turn out to be something we did not really want to do after all. The best way to truly understand how much we like something is if we go all in and focus on something.

Having one goal at a time is an essential part of achieving your goals. This part is essential to focusing on one thing at a time. Whatever your goal is, whether it is a college degree, starting a business, writing a book, or getting to a certain weight. These undertakings need to be one at a time to be most effectively completely. Once one is done, you can safely move on the next big goal. For example, if you desire to start a business while still in school, it is much better to finish school first and then focus on the business. Focusing on too many goals at once can cause you to lose focus and not achieve any of them! So instead of running in all different directions, focus on the path in front of you and go straight ahead.