Time Management

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Working for “Me Time”: Time Management Strategies for Reducing Stress

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting everything on your list finished, so that you can finally take some time off. The problem is that most of the time we don’t take the time to rest that we should. Instead, we rush into the next thing because, after all, a woman’s work is never really done, is it?  Because of this, our “me time” usually gets pushed into the background, and instead of our time management strategies helping to reduce stress, they actually create more.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

There are ways to use time management techniques to relieve stress, get everything done that you need to in a day, and still have time for yourself at the end of it!

1. Check your schedule

When you have a lot on your plate, it’s easy to get stressed about getting everything done. Knowing what causes you to feel stressed can go a long way toward helping you get relief from it.

One of the first things to do when you are feeling overwhelmed about your workload is to good, hard look at your schedule. Are you making the best use of your time?

Sometimes we work when we should be relaxing, and we relax when we should be working. If you find this is happening for you more often than it should, you should take some time to rework your schedule so that you are working at your peak productive times.

One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur is that you can set your own hours. Take advantage of that and arrange your schedule so that you get the best results from your working hours. You’ll get more done and have time for yourself at the end of the day.

2. Schedule your “me time” in the mornings

It’s nice to have some alone time at the end of your working day, but did you know that by starting your day with “me time” can lead to less stress, and more productivity?

Plan to wake up even thirty minutes earlier than everyone else in your house, and use that time to start your day on your own terms. Meditate, read, do some light exercise, or just enjoy that first cup of coffee in complete silence. Anything you can do to start your day in a peaceful and relaxed manner will help to reduce stress throughout the whole day.

3. Eliminate distractions during your working hours

The working day is filled with distractions, and these can drive your stress levels through the roof if you let them. Think about how you feel when the phone is constantly ringing, your social media and email notifications are going off every few seconds. Even when you love being social, it’s hard to get work done when you keep being reminded that there are always more things to be added to the list.

To reduce stress and get more done during working hours, make it a habit to turn everything off. Send your phone directly to voicemail, shut down all your social media sites, and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.

You will be amazed at how much more relaxed and focused you are when you are not being distracted by outside sources.

4. Make time management a mindset

Time management is just as much about mindset as it is about physical strategies for getting things done. If you keep telling yourself you have too much to do, or you’re never going to get things done, you are creating your own stress.

Instead, think positive thoughts such as “I have plenty of time” or “I will easily get this done within my deadline” and you will find that your day flows much more smoothly.  And, you will indeed get things done easily with plenty of time to spare.

When you make time management a mindset and a habit, you can’t help but be more productive during your working hours. The end result will be that you get more done, feel less stress, and have more time to spend on yourself and your family.  “Me time” will become a regular part of your day instead of something to be squeezed in when you have a minute or two.

Women holding coffee cup checking laptop in kitchen

How to Stop Working Long Hours Without Feeling Guilty

“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.” – Voltaire

Working long hours on a regular basis can be easy to do when you run your own business. It can be equally, if not more difficult, when you work from home. The guilt creeps when you shut down your computer for the day. Your gut twists with the nagging worry that you will never get everything finished on your list.

The work trap.

A habit forms when you begin to put others first before taking take of your own needs. If there is any time left over in your day then you give yourself attention. You hide from others just how much you are carrying on your shoulders. Remember the directions about the oxygen mask when flying on an airplane? Yes, you place the oxygen mask on yourself first then tend to those around you.

Taking care of your needs helps fuel you to take care of others. It’s when you borrow from tomorrow’s health for today’s needs that leads to chronic stress.

Guilt is a useless emotion.

This guilt goes beyond the normal knowing right from wrong. Guilt and excessive worry can catapult your stress level. Beating yourself up about the amount of work on your to do list can cause overwhelm. High levels of guilt can paralyze you, your productivity and your quality of life. It’s important to examine just what expectations you have attached to your work performance.

Let’s talk about some ways to leave work and leave the guilt behind:

1.  Make doable goals. Does it seem like your to do list never gets done? A tip can be to make sure your goals are bite-size. Map out how you see a project will unfold from beginning to end. Determine when you will accomplish your goals. If you find yourself feeling anxiety about not getting something done, check in to see how big your goal is and other factors like focus and discipline (more about this below). Be realistic and add on just a bit more time than expected to complete you task or goal.

2.  Have an end-of-day ritual. Update your list for the next day so you can start quickly the next work day. Then spend some time decompressing from the day. If your office is away from home, commute time can help disconnect work from home. Having a home office, however, can leave a void in moving in personal life mode. It’s important to have space before jumping into home responsibilities. Whether it’s taking a walk, deep breathing or a short meditation, do something that will ease you into the rest of your day.

3.  Close the door to your office. Literally. Close the door behind you if your home office is in a separate space from the rest of your home. My startup office was in an open space. It’s tempting to go back and check on something. Make sure you disconnect from all tech sources, just as if you are leaving the office. It can become a compulsion to check your email and social media after the end of the day.

4.  Focus and discipline. Have you ever wondered where the time has gone at the end of the day? It’s really important to know not only where you spend your time but that you have strong focus to finish your list. It’s so easy to get distracted with email, phone calls and especially social media. Set a timer for tasks or use a productivity manager to help you see how much time you are spending on a certain task.

5.  Outsource. It’s so important to ask for help and outsource any tasks that take too much time. Spend the most time possible on the part of the project you are good at and allow others from your support team to give you a hand. Wringing your hand over how to do something complicated can be quickly remedied by someone who can do the job quickly.

Follow these tips to free yourself from working long hours. Set boundaries in your work life and discover the new freedom to care for YOU.

Woman with red outfit sitting in front of computer holidng her eyes

Five Business Burnout Relief Strategies

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” – Dalai Lama

Woman with red outfit sitting in front of computer holidng her eyesBusiness and work burnout can seem as if it appears out of nowhere. Long workdays coupled with anxiety and lack of focus can be telltale signs of burnout. You work so hard, cranking out the next product, program or marketing strategy but find yourself numb and getting overwhelmed with details. Are you ignoring signs you are in danger of burnout?

Signs that you might be suffering from business burnout:

  • Your passion about your career has begun to slowly dwindle
  • Your creativity toward new ideas has become challenged
  • You are having increased difficulty in focusing on your current project
  • You feel exhausted, anxious and just plain worn out.

Try these 5 techniques to get burnout relief:

1. Schedule time to yourself. When was the last day you remember taking off from work? You are at high risk for burnout if you can’t remember or it’s been several weeks or months. Schedule at least two days, one for rest and the other to get our ground, and reassess your goals. The first argument that will creep up is that you don’t have time. It’s so important that you make time. What you might not clearly see is that your productivity is down at this point from the burnout. Regenerating your batteries will get you ready to move forward.

2. Shift your mindset. A business is something that gradually grows over time and requires an endurance mindset. Pace yourself, using your goals as mile markers toward your definition of success. Build your business around your life, not your life around your business. If you find yourself saying, “I’ll be happy when________”, then your risk for damage to your health and relationships are greater than you think.

3. Stay healthy. It’s important to stay in physical condition when you’re under constant stress. Make time for basic self-care, eating balanced meals. Make appointments to exercise, and other activities, such as a massage. Keep yourself at top shape. Make sure you fit in relaxation and adequate sleep. You can deal with stress much easier when you are well-rested. Remember to fuel your body in order to have the best outcomes in your life.

4. Honor your time. Set clear boundaries when it comes to work time. It make seem like you are always working when you are in a high-pressured job or an entrepreneur. Learning how to budget the time in your day more effectively will relieve a lot of this time pressure and stress. Good time management will lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed, as well as enable you to have the time you need to do what you want to do.

5. Stick to what you do best. Keep track of the activities that you can delegate and outsource during your workday. Perform at what you do best and pass along the tasks that you don’t like or take too much time. You have a specific talent. Make sure that’s where you spend the majority of your time.

Business burnout can happen especially when you least expect it. Be very conscious of the warning signs of burnout and always protect the greatest asset in your business: you.

Various clocks flying in air

How to Be Productive Without Losing Sleep

“You cannot manage time, you can only manage yourself.” – Peter Drucker

Being productive is something most people want during any given day. Long lists from what seems like endless projects can become overwhelming and suck the life from you. Before you know it, you are staying up long hours and losing sleep to get everything done. It seems like so many distractions detour you from the end result: completing your project.

Juggling Time

Various clocks flying in airA common time-management tool is to control the activities outside of you. It’s common to try to juggle everything you have to do. Does it seem that the personal calendar company didn’t put enough lines for your to-do list? A result of stress is attempting to manage things outside of you. Maybe it’s not so much about managing your activities but how you manage yourself first.

“Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator. “ – Robert Orben

Managing how you spend your time is an essential key in being productive. Where you choose to spend your time will determine the richness and quality of your life.

Dealing with distractions

The number-one time thief is distraction. Focus is one area that will greatly improve how much time you allocate to different areas of your life. A new time tool to try is Time Doctor. It allows you to focus on a one task while getting a true read of how long it takes to get the task done. Time Doctor lets you start and stop tasks and sends you a productivity report daily. When the timer is running, this program really helps you stay on task.

Shift how you look at time

Time really cannot be saved. Once it is wasted you can’t get it back. Look at what you value the most in life. Examine if you are contributing your efforts to those areas the most. For example, spending time with your loved ones is a value you hold, then you choose to do activities with them.

Prioritize and do what’s most important

Now that you have determined where you want to spend your time, you can now decide what actions will be most effective. Focus your efforts on the tasks that will give you the biggest bang for your effort. Your activities will truly tell you what you value.

Remember, you are in charge of how best to accomplish your goals. Life will throw roadblocks up from time to time. Step back and see if you need to change how you are approaching your goal or that you need to take a deep breath and move forward.

Delegate and ask for help

People lose trust in someone quickly if they say they can do something and fail to follow up. Before accepting another task to do, ask yourself these two questions:

”Does this activity truly fit into where I want to spend my time and what I value most?”

“Can someone else help me with this task?”

Answering these two questions can truly help you keep focused.

Study how you can use the 24 hours in the day to create happiness and a deeper quality of life. You may find that you are more productive without losing sleep.

I want to give you the form that helps me prioritize my day. Click here to download my Life Management Daily Checklist as my gift to you.

Stop Multitasking and Start Prioritizing

multitasking, stress, prioritize, focus, how to be productive, time management“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.” – Lord Chesterfield

Multitasking is an attempt to do several tasks at once for the sake of time. One of the biggest myths about productivity is that you will get more done if you multitask.

Multitasking was actually developed for computers, not humans. The task juggling of several actions became hugely popular in the 1990’s. But studies revealed that the human mind is not capable of juggling too many things at once.

Even everyday activities, like a trip to the grocery store, can turn into a marathon event. You are picking up dinner, texting, setting appointments, watching the kids, transferring money to different accounts on an app, and making sure you use all of your coupons. That just sounded crazy, right? Yet that’s just one example of how multitasking works.

The Ugly Truth About Multitasking

A 2010 Harvard Business Review post states multitasking can lead to as much as a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ. Multitasking at the most dangerous level is texting or talking on the phone while driving. Eighteen percent of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

The truth is when you try to manage several things at once you get nothing done efficiently, safely or properly.

You can get multiple things done during the day without trying to do them all at once. The biggest challenge is staying in charge of your thoughts, rather than letting them be in charge of you. When you try to do too many things at once your mind just switches from one task to the other. Multitasking can leave you standing in the middle of the room wondering what you got up for in the first place. Prioritizing the most important tasks that are going to make the biggest impact is the key.

Start Prioritizing Instead.

Block off time to work on a specific task. Get as much done as possible at one time on your project. This is where setting small goals to bigger projects really becomes effective.

Do you have ideas that come up when you are working on something? A trick to help you focus while working is to write it down while you are working on the task at hand. Look at your list when you are finished with what you were originally doing. Many times the distracting thought you had wasn’t important.

Multitasking and other distractions can be habits that block you from getting a task done. Prioritize your tasks, be in charge of your thoughts and stop multitasking.

5 Tips on How to Focus When Working from Home

work from home, home based business, distraction, can't focus, How to be more productiveWorking from home is definitely growing in popularity by leaps and bounds.  Epic numbers of people are starting businesses where they can work at home. It’s an opportunity to ignite your passion and create a dream business, whether it’s full time or after a regular work day. However, working from a home office comes with its share of stresses and can pose some challenges in the concentration department. How to focus when working from home can be a challenge.

Attention span…what?

A common trait of an entrepreneur is an amazing level of creativity. The downside is you can easily get detoured from work. Distractions pop up like Outlook dinging, phones ringing and of course, Facebook. Concentrating on one project can be blown when you remember something else that needs your attention. Insert your mind producing your latest fantastic ideas about another project.  And dare I mention that doing dishes and laundry seem like a much better idea than the project that keeps repeating on your to do list? The possibilities are endless to become overly sidetracked.

So how can you stay focused when working at home? Here are five tips to help you prevent getting distracted at your home office:

Designate home office space-and stick to it.

Create a space specifically designated for your work. It’s best to have a space where you can shut the door. Your desk area needs to be functional where you can grab what you need in a snap. Use calendars, dry erase and bulletin boards to keep you on task. Try using sticky notes of all sizes to guide you toward your goals and keep clear what your plan is for the day.

Be careful that you don’t work in an easy chair. An extra comfortable chair might be nice for a change of pace but there are some downsides.  There are greater distractions like the television or family members wanting your attention. Also, your posture becomes compromised with your computer or smartpad in your lap. You will begin to notice more tension in your neck and low back when working from your recliner. Sitting at a desk keeps you ergonomically fit

Keep a work schedule.

Set a designated time to work, just as if you were going to the office. Structure your day to include meals and breaks. Have ways to remind yourself to include self-care in your day. Stretch, drink plenty of water and refuel your body with nourishing healthy foods. The upside to working for yourself is that you can build in times to refuel your body, mind and spirit.
There may be times when you have to give a project and extra push to meet a deadline. Make sure you don’t get caught up in working too many hours. Sometimes it’s hard to shut off the computer for down time. Do practice keeping your time sacred for your best health.

Set personal life boundaries.

Set clear communications and boundaries with family, friends or roommates when you have a home office. Be clear about saying no to ongoing extra responsibilities. Teach your loved ones that time spent working at home does not equate to doing extra chores around the house. Plan your time and clearly set your limits with others.

Keep healthy foods and water on hand.

When you have a desk at home there is less of a temptation to hit a fast food drive-through. Prepare and plan your meals as well as keeping healthy snacks on hand. Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated. You’ll be surprised how this tip will keep you energized during your day.

Set times to connect with people.

Set specific times during the day that you’ll answer emails, respond to calls, and engage in social media. Set a timer to hop on and off the internet. Close social media tabs when working on your computer. This will reduce the temptation of checking the latest feed.

You can overcome the challenge of distraction when working from home. Create a system that best fits your style and personality and reduce stress when working from home.

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