Re-evaluating Priorities

We all have a set of priorities. We may have good ones in place, or maybe we don’t. In most cases there is not a definitive way to determine whether the priorities you hold are good or not and that is not what we are here to determine. However, we should be aware of what our priorities are. It is very beneficial to get an accounting of what our priorities are and what they mean to you at the time. While the beginning of the year like it is now is an excellent time to do this, it is a great exercise to do at least 4 times or perhaps monthly. Knowing what our priorities are will play all kinds of roles in getting us to the goals we are seeking and using our time for the best. Here are a few examples

  1. You know what we are working for. Having a strong idea of what your priorities are will reflect in all areas of our life. You can proceed with clarity of thought and keep moving.

  2. You are less distracted. As long as you have your priorities narrowed down to attainable parts of your goals, then you will be be focused on what you are trying to achieve.

  3. You are making the most of your time. As long as you are spending the majority of your time on your priorities then you are making the most of your time.

  4. You are overall satisfied. I can speak to this myself that when I am doing things that are not in part of my priorities I feel drained and unfulfilled. When you are getting closer to your goals and are within your priorities, you will feel more fulfilled.

While focusing in on your main goal will yield you the best results. I would recommend keeping a relatively short list of priorities that you can access quickly. Let’s say you place about five things on a list, I would review that list as frequently as possible for two reasons. For one, to remind you of what your priorities are and second to re-evaluate them to see if they still hold the value that they once did. As we are still early in the year, we may be still be working through goals for the year and taking a look at what has been working and not been working in the prior year. I wish you all of the best in this process. 

Happy New Year!

Another year is done, and this will come down to two general feelings. There are people who are saying “already”, and the rest of you are saying “finally.” If you had taken action on the last post and have reviewed the last year, you will have arrived at either one of those two conclusions. We all have had ups and down this past year. We can put that behind us now and look to the year ahead. There are several ways we can plan on the new year and you probably have already had done some of that by now. Here are just a few quick things to consider when going into the new year.

  1. Plan Realistically. Do not expect to accomplish a decade worth of accomplishments in just one year. Remember that life is going to happen and things will not go as planned.

  2. Don’t plan too easily. You will need to have goals lofty enough that they do challenge you. Just like you shouldn’t plan too ambitiously, but also you should have something that does push you.

  3. Take advantage of the support around you. New Year’s is the time when many people are talking about changing their life and reaching their goals. Now is the time to do something big and different because you will at least have the support around you of others trying to reach their goals. Also take note that the excitement around resolutions and goals will fade quickly, so you should be ready to continue on when everyone goes their own way.

  4. Remember one step at a time. Don’t try to achieve your whole year’s goal in January. If you can, you planned something too easy. Remember that you are most effective doing steady and consistent progress to reach your goals.

I hope you are have amazing plans and goals for 2019. I wish only the best for all of you in the new year and I want to thank you for reading this blog. I wish each and every one of you a happy new year!

Holiday Season Review

It is a special time of the year. Whether the holidays bring you happy or sad memories, and most likely a bit of both, it is true that this time of the year is unique. It is unique that we do celebrate holidays, but also is unique that it provides an excellent opportunity to take an accounting of how your year went. I regularly make this time at the end of the year to review what happened during the year and what I think went well and what I think could have went better. Here are a few things to consider doing before you close out the year.

  1. Consider how you spent your time well. I recommend any type of review begin on a positive note. This will encourage you to keep going and will encourage you to keep going. Try to make this list as long and detailed as possible, yet be realistic. If you have been tracking your time all year, take a look at the reports. If not, you can take an educated guess at where the majority of your time went.

  2. Now consider what didn't go well. It is very important to understand what didn't go well with your time. Identify where you wasted time, what you struggled to complete, what goals you didn't make, etc. Also make this as comprehensive as possible. You want to know in detail what didn't work so you can shoot to correct this going forward.

  3. Take a balanced look. Once both lists are complete, take a big picture overall view. This would be a good time to determine whether you are overall happy with the direction of your life based on how you spend your time and how well you are meeting your goals.

  4. Start thinking about the next year. Begin to think about your plan and goals for next year. Think about how you are going to plan your next year and what you want to achieve. My next post will discuss more about planning the next year. I would recommend not doing it all at once. Spend a lot of time reflecting first. Then you can go ahead and plan.

That's all I am going to share this week. As I know this is the holiday season and we will be spending time with our families. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and if you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas!

Why I am Ditching my Current Time Tracking System

This post will be a little different and will be anecdotal. For the past several years I have always been all about tracking every single activity. I have broken this down to over 200 different activities. It has gotten to the point where the tracking itself and even the reports have become more cumbersome than useful. I believed it was excellent for a season and makes a wonderful experiment to get an accounting for nearly every single minute of the day, week, month, and year. I would still recommend you do this if this the what you want to do. Remember that whatever system that works for you is the one that you use and definitely that this system will change from time to time. I am going in a different direction and ditching the extremely detailed time tracking that I have been doing. I will still be tracking my time, but it will be different and is using a different app. For over three years I have used aTimeLogger/TimeTrack iO to track everything, which was a manual process. Prior to that I was using Excel, which was even more manual. I have recently came across an app that tracks time more autonomously. This app, Smarter Time will still require manual entry and editing, but far less than everything I have used before. 

This is still a shout out for TimeTrack iO/aTimeLogger and I will still recommend them as they are excellent tools and will only get better. Hey, Excel or pen and paper is great if that works for you.

Here are reasons why I would recommend anyone to switch time tracking methods, in this case from more detailed to less.

  1. To save time! TimeTracking takes time. What better place to talk about saving time than a blog like this. While I still say it’s a worthy investment to track your time, if you find a way for it to take less time, go ahead with it. 

  2. The new system provides better data. If your old system became so complicated that the data isn’t useful anymore because there is just one much, then it is time to simplify. You will then be able to get more relevant data.

  3. If you find your old method to be stale or a chore. Since tracking your time is optional, there is no need for it to become a chore for you. Whenever it does, then there is an adjustment needed so that it is enjoyable.

  4. Your life significantly changes. I could imagine that there could be times and circumstances where tracking your time is not beneficial. While I don’t think that would ever be me, but maybe you don’t have a need or any desire to track your time and if you don’t see a need, don’t do something you don’t want to be doing. It may also be beneficial to take a break also, or only track a few items.

Everyone is different and the system needs to work for you. I will always recommend tracking your time, have a time budget and follow it or time goals, and whatever you use to be most effective in your life and to make the time for your purpose. Please let me know your thoughts and what time tracking strategies that you use if you use any at all. 

Don’t Ruin the Lives of Others with Bad Time Management

We all know someone who drives us crazy because they are extraordinarily bad at time management. They commit every time management sin imaginable. He off she is always late, does everything last minute, doesn’t plan at all whatsoever, and somehow it becomes your responsibility to fix everything and it’s your fault when something falls through the cracks. This can be the case with a boss, a close friend or family member, a team member, a co-worker, etc. The things we do rarely effect just ourselves so it is important to understand how what we do effects those around you. In the case of bad time management practices, below are just a few ideas that I have have come up with.

  1. You stress others out. Poor planning on your part means those who you manage have to rearrange their priorities while they already have a busy schedule. This means things that were going to do won’t get done as planned and they will be more stressed out and aggravated. There are emergencies in life and that is understood, but there is an urgency several times a week, especially due to poor planning, those around you will be frustrated.

  2. Momentum is interrupted. Every company, family, and individual performs better when there is a pattern and a momentum going on. When this is interrupted, everything may get off track and is not at an optimal level anymore. A decreased level of productivity often results in frustration and aggravation because people are not reaching the things they are seeking to achieve.

  3. Unintended consequences. Things in life ripple out, one things effect another and we don’t usually have a way to see this until it may be too late. Not everything is predictable, and for example say an employee is overwhelmed and stressed because of many urgent demands over the past months, many of which resulted from poor planning. The employee becomes openly frustrated and lowers the morale in general, and then possibly good employees go looking for work in another company, and that can ripple out further. That is just an example, but we should be aware of possible unintended consequences.

  4. You don’t get what you are looking for. People will get frustrated with you if you manage your time poorly and it negatively effects them as well. If they are working for you, they will likely end up not doing their best work. The same with a friendship or relationship or whatever else. If we continually manage our time so poorly that we miss commitments that are important to others, stress out the lives of our employees, or end up performing work poorly and miss important deadlines that will frustrate our bosses and managers, then we will not get the results in life we are desiring. There are countless examples of this, here are just a few

    1. Loss of a job because of poor performance

    2. Failing or doing poorly in a class because of poor performance

    3. Losing a friend or a relationship because we miss our commitments

    4. Upsetting a child by missing a commitment

    5. Letting down your parents by not doing what you are saying

There are so many ways to annoy others by managing our time poorly. This can be destructive to ourselves and those around us. While we never can be perfect at managing our time, we can always do better. If it is something we don’t prioritize in our life, it will most likely suffer. It may be a skill that some people can do better than others, but we must remember the importance of managing our time to the point that we can function and that the lack of it doesn’t hinder us. 

How to Identify Wasted Time

There are several ways to waste time, and many of us are well aware of how and when we are wasting time. There are a lot of obvious ways to determine we are wasting time. Most of us spend too much time on activities that we don’t really need to. More often that not, it is not something that we consciously wake up and do. We don’t wake up and plan to spend two hours watching random videos on YouTube, scrolling your Facebook timeline for 15 minutes, or end up doing a low priority task that may not even need to get done at all. We all fall in the trap occasionally, and sometimes we are aware and other times we are not. The solution is simple for the time wastes that we are aware of. You just need to consciously decide to not waste time doing those activities as much. What you need to be aware of are the time wastes that sneak in. Here are a few tricks on how to identify these things.

  1. Watch the little things. You need to pay attention to the little things, you need to pay attention to the activities that you end up wasting much more time than you would expect. Remember that 5 minutes here and there can add up to much more quickly than expect. Five minutes three times a day is an hour and 45 minutes a week, which is 91 hours a year!

  2. Remember the dangers of distraction. You are not just losing the five minutes each time you go to do the activity, remember that you also lose the time that you spend getting back to the activity that you were doing before.

  3. Pay attention to your momentum. Remember that it is not only the distraction that will cost you more time than you would want, but also loss of momentum that can add up to even more lost time. When you have a positive momentum on a task, you are getting much more done than you would if you just working in spurts. Even worse is disrupting that momentum.

  4. Do you really need to be doing this? You should get in the habit of questioning everything that you do. If you answer yes, then keep doing it, even though it may not be something that you want to be doing. In this case it is probably something that you have to be doing. Now if you answer no, find out why. More often than not, we can find a few things that we don’t need to be doing at all. This is the low hanging fruit of cleaning up your schedule.

There are plenty of ways to waste time, there are no ends to the options we have now a days. While the path to wasting time may appear enticing, we need to understand that the costs outweighs the benefits. Therefore, it is worth putting forth the effort in searching out ways on which your time may be slipping through the cracks. Please let me know your thoughts and if there are any methods that you personally use to identify how time slips away from us.

How to Avoid Getting Off Track During Breaks

The first day back from a vacation, holiday weekend, or even a regular weekend can be a drag. Actual results may vary based on how long you have been gone and what you need to be doing. Often on the first day back from a long break, we are off track and are not in the flow. There are many reasons for this. The main reasons is that we get out of a routines on our day off. We may stay up and wake up later than we normally do, we do activities that we don’t normally do, and we don’t do activities that we normally do. While there are ways to get back on track after we return, even better is a way to keep us from getting as far off track. This is more like the prevention rather than waiting until you need the cure. Here are a few tips that I try to use, that would really help.

  1. Keep you bed time and wake up time rather consistent. Ideally, you can go to the bed the same time every day and wake up the same time every day. I do know people who somehow can do this; however, so far in my life that has never been me. Oddly enough, I can function quite well early and also very late. In the last week alone I have been up as early as 3:53 AM and up as late as 1:25 AM (and only two days apart!) and I was fine, but I would not recommend this be a regular thing and for me this last week has been unusual. Pick a time that is best for you and that is actually obtainable. If you have evening commitments, don’t try for a time that is too early. 

  2. Have a morning and evening routine. Find things that you do every day and make it a regular routine. This way even on weekends, holidays, and vacations you will be in a pattern with some sort of normalcy regardless. This alone will make it easier to stay in the groove. 

  3. Pick a routine that is sustainable. Very often a reason we do go off track the first opportunity we have is because the regular routine we have is not sustainable for us. It may not involve enough activities that we enjoy, so when we do have free time, we jump ship and binge on whatever we feel like doing. 

  4. Be as balanced as you can. While I do believe in work life balance, I am going to take it with a different approach. For one thing, there will never be a perfect balance of work, life, and anything else. There are needs that arise in any category in our life that will require more attention at the moment. For example, big project at work or a product launch for your business will raise the priority for work, a family emergency or a major event like a new baby will make family a higher priority than other times in your life. If you do take an average of everything, by the end of your life the hope is that everything balanced out in a reasonable matter that you lived a meaningful yet productive life.

I hope everyone has enjoyed their Thanksgiving time. Even if you did not have a full weekend, it was still likely a shift in your routine and there was most likely a need for a course correction and a need to get back on track. Also, take note that you are not alone in this either and part of the reason you may feel off track is that everyone around you is also out of it and trying to get back on track as well. After all, this is why Mondays have a bad rap after all. Please let me know your thoughts on this and if you have experienced getting off track after time off and how long it took to get back into it as everyone does experience it differently.

Being Thankful for Efficient Strides

We all have a lot to be thankful for. As we approach Thanksgiving, this is an excellent time to be thankful. Although, it is good for us to be thankful all the time, Thanksgiving is extra special because we know that we can join many others in being thankful. There are plenty of things we can be thankful in our life, even when we are in a tough time in our life. If we stop and think we can all find several things to be thankful for. This post will focus on time management and productivity and how we can be thankful for the progress we have made to become more efficient and get more done. Here are just a few things we can look at and be thankful for our progress. 

  1. We can be thankful for our progress. This is an easy one to do because everyone can do this one. It has nothing to do with where we begin, but however with where you as an individual came from. Also take note that you don't have to compare yourself to anyone else but rather only to yourself. It can be easy to look at where we haven't seen results yet, but it takes just as much effort to be thankful.

  2. We can be thankful for our efforts. Anything that we did to make our lives more efficient has brought us closer to the life that we want and the place that we want to be. 

  3. We can be thankful for our when things go right. Things do not always go right, but they do sometimes. When we make a schedule, a time budget, and/or a goal, when we do come close, achieve, or even exceed what we set out to do, it calls for us to be thankful.

  4. We can be thankful for time to rest, relax, and enjoyment. I hope this week brings you time to rest, relax, and enjoy yourself. As I have discussed the value of taking breaks in the past, this is one of those times to take advantage of that opportunity. If your schedule does not allow you to do much of that this week as I know the holidays can be hectic, there are still times when you can .

As we come to the holidays, I hope we all can continue to be as efficient as possible, but still have time to rest and enjoy yourselves. It is important as we do come into this time of the year, we do not go too far off track of our goals, schedules, time budgets, and plans. To all, I am thankful to have you as a reader and I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving.

Try Nozbe Today!

Developing a Pattern of Productivity

There are all kinds of patterns in life. We have patterns for all the different activities we do. Many people have a standard workweek, working from Monday through Friday with the same start time and end time. Many of us have regular activities that we attend to on the same day of every week. We may have a night out with friends, activities we do with family, chores, and even our leisure activities are on some kind of pattern. Our routine is our pattern. However, like anything in life, things don't stay the same forever and they need to be updated and revised. We don't want to let our routines get stale. We have a greater tendency to get off track when our routines get stale. The good news is that there are things we can do when we get off track and we can get into a productive pattern.

  1. Switch things up. Whenever something gets stale and is no longer living up to it's purpose, it is time for a switch. There is no need to keep something that is not working.

  2. A complete schedule overhaul. Sometimes you can switch just a few things up, other times it is better to totally switch up your routine. There are times we should start from scratch with our schedule.

  3. Try A/B Testing. A/B Testing is where you try things out two different ways. You can make two routines and try both and see which one works out better.

  4. Take a break in general. You may just be worn out. Taking a break and getting back to your routine is a good way to test if your routine is wearing you out. There will be adjustments necessary if you do determine this is the reason why. Although, there should be breaks in general - breaks throughout each day, week, month, and year. 

It is easy to get caught up in a pattern that is not productive and not-optimal. This is why we should review our routines on a regular basis. This is why I review my routine often. I am in the process of doing this right now as I will be doing a new job soon. I am going to practically do an overhaul of my existing schedule and I will be getting up and going to bed earlier and following a more consistent schedule. If you have any ideas for future topics that you would like me to blog about. Please let me know your thoughts and suggestions. As always, thanks for reading.

Getting Back on Track after Derailment

Have you ever gotten off track of schedule? How many times have you decided to give up for the day, week, month, or even year and mark it up as a loss? We then get in an argument with ourselves about how we will do better next time and we can start again on Monday, at the beginning of the month, and an all time favorite for everyone which is the beginning of the year. We do not necessarily have to stop and give up when we get off track. We can make a decision to get right back on track as soon as we discover. For some reason, this is much harder than it sounds though. We set out with a bunch of ambitious goals and we fail to achieve them because we got too busy with something or got taken off track by something else. It can often be easy for us to lose track of what we should be doing and there are several ways to help us remember what we need to be doing. We could use a course correction fo what we need to do and get back to where we need to be. Here are a few ways to do this.

  1. Look back at your schedule. If you made a schedule and even more so if you made a detailed schedule, you should be be able to get right back on track by making a few tweaks to account for the detour.

  2. Make a new schedule. It is very possible that the reason you got off track is that your schedule wasn’t working. You may have schedule too many things, or too few things for the schedule to be effective.

  3. Schedule breaks in. Perhaps you have gone away from your schedule because you lost focus and took a break. Maybe you got lost on the internet and social media for an hour and realize that you were off track after that. You could just schedule these things in that way you have a better expectation to stop when time is up. Of course, this takes discipline and is not guaranteed to work.

  4. Keep track of the times you go off track. Keep some kind of record of times you find yourself not sticking to your plan and look for trends and find out the reasons why.

  5. Don’t beat yourself up. I used to get upset when I didn’t follow my schedule completely and when I got off track. Realize that life is always going to be inconsistent and there will always be things that happen out of our control to take us off track.

So you see that if you get a bit off track, there is no need to throw your whole schedule in a waste basket. It is always better to start again now rather than later. Remember, the longer you stay off track, the longer you will be off track. In addition, it will only be harder to get back on track when you need to. So get back on track now